X-Men ’97 Causes Millennials To Lose Their Minds With Greatest X-Men Video Game References

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

The most recent episode of X-Men ‘97 had Jubilee celebrating her 18th birthday in the worst possible way: trapped (along with Robert de Costa) in a video game designed by the interdimensional despot Mojo. The show’s recreation of video game aesthetics and boss fight logic is great, but for Millennial fans of these merry mutants, this episode provided more X-Men nostalgia than ever before. That’s because it has nonstop Easter eggs for the X-Men games of the 90s that fans were constantly playing (when they weren’t watching those Animated Series VHS tapes from Pizza Hut, that is).

The Iconic Genesis Game

The first Easter egg is the Motendo, the fictional video game system this X-Men ‘97 episode is named after. Despite the name being a portmanteau of “Mojo” and “Nintendo,” the system is clearly modeled to look more like the Sega Genesis. That was the system that brought us the first truly great X-Men home console game, and if you look closely, the cartridge in Jubilee’s system is a replica of the old Genesis game.

Final Boss Magneto

Our next major X-Men ‘97 Easter egg is when Jubilee and Roberto arrive at Mojo’s “favorite level:” Asteroid M, once used as an outer space base by Magneto. Asteroid M had previously appeared in the 1992 X-Men: The Animated Series, but the way it is portrayed here is made to look like the Asteroid M level from the X-Men arcade game. Magneto is the final boss of that game, and the version Jubilee fights onscreen replicates some of his video game fight moves (particularly that annoying magnetic shield).

Beat’Em Up Sentinels

As you might expect, there are other references to this killer arcade game in the X-Men ‘97 episode, but they are a bit more subdued. For example, Jubilee and Roberto fight human-sized Sentinels, a staple villain from that old sidescrolling beat’em up. When Roberto is dying, his skin begins flashing; the same thing happens to bosses in the arcade game (though this video game trope is certainly not limited to only this title).

Welcome To Die

X-Men ‘97 also includes some other references to Magneto from the arcade game. This includes the cartoon recreation having red eyes; in the arcade game’s intro, we see the mutant villain’s eyes briefly flash red. The cartoon boss fight also has him imploring Jubilee to “bow before the lord of magnetism,” which (combined with the over-the-top line delivery) is almost certainly a reference to the arcade game’s bad translation where he calls himself “the master of magnet” (still not as bad as an earlier part of the game where tells our heroes “welcome to die”).

X-Men Legends Easter Egg

One detail that may be an Easter egg or just a fun coincidence in this X-Men ‘97 episode is the design of the extra life that Jubilee gives to Roberto. The color isn’t exact, but the design looks a lot like the save points in the X-Men: Legends games. Notably, you can also use those save points to revive fallen X-Men, which is exactly what Jubilee does for Roberto.

Mojo Is Awesome

Ironically, one of the most obvious game references in this X-Men ‘97 episode isn’t really an Easter egg, though you’d be forgiven for thinking so. Mojo appears as a final boss coming out of an arcade game, but if you look closely at the cabinet, it doesn’t match the design of the original arcade game or the recently announced X-Men ‘97 compilation announced by Arcade 1Up. The available players don’t match the original arcade game either, but it does look like six people can play at the same time, which was a notable feature of some versions of the arcade classic. 

Filled With Video Game References

As you can see, this X-Men ‘97 episode was absolutely perfect for those of us who grew up with both The Animated Series and the iconic X-Men games of the ‘90s. Before anyone shoots any fireworks at me, I’ll be the first to admit that there were probably some more subtle Marvel Easter eggs that slipped by, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them on the first of my (sure to be many) rewatches. If you caught something I missed and get riled up enough to start writing some angry comments online, though, I’ll tell you the same thing that the original X-Men game on Sega Genesis told players: that it’s time to “reset the computer now” and touch some non-16-bit grass.

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