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X-Men: Children of the Atom is a 2D fighting game, and for Capcom represents a departure from its tried-and-true Street Fighter II formula in terms of gameplay. The game's stage backgrounds are all composed of two or more levels; if characters are thrown down hard enough, the floor can break, dropping both fighters to the next level down. The game's ten playable characters are drawn from Marvel Comics' cast of X-Men mutant super heroes and villains, each with his or her own assortment of super moves.
The game offers a few innovations on the Street Fighter II formula. Fighters can perform regular jumps as well as super jumps. During a super jump, the fighter jumps so high above the fighting level that the game has to show an arrow indicating where the fighter on the ground is. The game also changes the properties of special attacks based on which button is pressed along with the joystick motion. Cyclops, for example, will shoot a low eye beam with the weak punch, a head-level beam with the medium, and will shoot diagonally upward with a strong punch.
X-Men: Children of the Atom has an X-Power bar for each character during a fight. Characters can fill up their X-Power bars by attacking their opponents and performing special techniques. The bar itself can be charged up to three levels. At the second level fighters can use an X-Ability, the equivalent of a regular desperation move. When all three levels are fully charged, fighters can unleash Hyper-X techniques, which are equivalent to super desperation moves. If a fighter has all or part of his or her X-Power bar charged after one round of a fight and must fight the same opponent for another round, that portion of the bar is carried over. ~ Kyle Knight, All Game Guide