‘X-Men: Ashes of the Apocalypse’ — a Forgotten ’90s Marvel Game, Canceled During Preproduction (INCLUDES LONG LOST TRAILER!)

Chris Baker
6 min readMay 16, 2024


The following piece was directly adapted from the last half of the video below. The following article focuses solely on the unreleased game, X-Men: Ashes of the Apocalypse — a canceled X-Men game you probably just now learned was a thing.

YouTube is rife with canceled X-Men games, from X-Women and the first iteration of Mutant Academy to an undoubtedly X-citing, X-treme (and likely X-cruciating) Sega marketing campaign we missed out on for 32X. Yet no one there has ever discussed the one with the biggest announcement of all…

THE UNCANNY X-MEN #350 was the bestselling comic of October 1997 — №8 overall in a year competing with Marvel’s massive “Heroes Reborn” event, electric Superman, and…well…other X-books.

If you were an avid ’90s X-Men comics reader, you no doubt still have your copy of the milestone THE UNCANNY X-MEN #350 — literally part of X-Men ’97, having come out in October of that year. The issue revealed that Gambit once worked with Mister Sinister’s Marauders, causing a rift for quite some time between he and his fellow X-Men…especially Rogue.

And at the end came something really cool…

Scanned from THE UNCANNY X-MEN #350. Some screenshots feature more detail than the ones sent to me by Michael Mendheim, most notably regarding HUD and added hands to screens.

…a game announcement, complete with a two-page developer interview!

For whatever reason, Marvel chose to announce X-Men: Ashes of the Apocalypse as an addendum to this milestone issue, and would-be developer New Wave Entertainment says a lot to get an X-fan of the day excited in this two-page Q&A. Yet, somehow, there’s almost nothing else online out there confirming this actually happened. Googling or YouTube-searching “Ashes of the Apocalypse” most commonly yields results for a smartphone Final Fantasy game and, uh, these guys.

The article promises “one of the most technologically advanced computer games ever created,” coming in late 1998 for Windows 95, and then later for consoles. But what really excited me was its premise — a sequel to the then-recent Age of Apocalypse epic that completely changed reality across all X-books to a dystopia where Apocalypse ruled, Xavier was dead, and Magneto led the X-Men. Except in this sequel, he’s apparently all bad again, with his Brotherhood — and a more classic helmet and haircut — teaming up with Apocalypse and friends.

According to the developer interview:

[It’s] a realistic X-Men game that isn’t Saturday-morning cute. This game plays off the darkness and desperation introduced in Age of Apocalypse. We are looking forward to creating a realistic, intelligent battle game where we re-create Apocalypse’s nightmare on Earth.

You can read the entire thing yourself by clicking on the article, but here are some more highlights of what the game would have played like:

X-Men: Ashes of the Apocalypse is a unique real-time, battle action game that will take place on a 3D, texture-mapped world and will feature strategic game play elements (like building and upgrading) as well as furious combat. Not only does the game player get to command a variety of different terrestrial and flying X-Men, he will get to become them as well!

The game player will be able to fight, fly, and use a variety of special powers, depending on which character they currently have control of.

Designed to be very easy to play and understand, X-Men: Ashes of the Apocalypse will feature both the strategy of a real-time war game and the intensity of a first-person action title. The game will feature light resource management that will be familiar to the game player, allowing him to build structures, weapons, and mutant “soldiers” that can act independently of the game player and can even be enhanced. A variety of different units can be built — from weapons like laser cannons and the dreaded Madri Priests to structures like Bio Labs and Automated Surgery Rooms.

In addition, game players will always be making split-second tactical decisions throughout a Scenario and will need to maintain and protect certain key structures. These game play elements will affect the outcome of every battle.

The article does not name Jubilee as a playable character, but this file is labeled JUBKICK.JPG — so draw your own conclusions.

Playable characters would have included Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Cyclops, Gambit, Bishop, and Phoenix for the X-Men. Meanwhile, playable Brotherhood would have included Magneto, Apocalypse, Holocaust (let’s just call him Nemesis…), Sabretooth, Mystique, Mister Sinister, and Havok. Also considered: everyone’s favorite…Maggot!

Bishop vs. Magneto

Entire multiplayer campaigns were promised:

In multiplayer Scenarios, game players will either get to cooperate against a computer-controlled opponent or can go head-to-head against each other in the supreme battle royale to save (or destroy) the Earth.

In multiplayer Campaigns, players will get to play their entire Campaign cooperating against a computer-controlled opponent.

This all sounded and looked incredibly intriguing to me when I rediscovered this article — so I reached out to Michael Mendheim, identified near the end as New Wave’s Director of Design. Michael is kind of a legend with many big-name games to his credit, including another mutant-themed game I particularly enjoyed on the Genesis — Mutant League Football. In fact, his company Digital Dreams Entertainment has somewhat revived that game in recent years, with an EA-free spiritual successor, Mutant Football League.

Thanks to Michael, I’m able to upgrade the visuals in this video from scans of a 26-year-old comic book to what you see in this article. He was kind enough to answer some questions of mine too, which were quite illuminating, and have me questioning whether or not it’s even fair to refer to Ashes of the Apocalypse as a canceled game.

After I contacted him out of the blue, he responded with this:

You’re stirring up some old ghosts for me. This project was done years ago. I had a development company called New Wave Entertainment, and we were working on a variety of different concepts for Marvel. Someone from Marvel (I don’t remember who) asked us if we could create our vision for what we would design for an X-Men game.

Marvel just wanted a teaser trailer of what it could be and that’s what we came up with. A trailer was shown at a comic con with major buzz, and I believe the intent was to try and drum up investment so we could develop the game. Sadly, it never panned out. I always thought the Age of Apocalypse was a very rich, gripping story, ripe for development of either a movie or video game.

Me too, Michael!

Isn’t that interesting? There never really was a game in development — just pure preproduction. The smoke and mirrors of PR campaigns makes it impossible to know for sure, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such an in-depth announcement for something that still wasn’t even signed. Crazy days, those late ‘90s.

I tried to get a little more out of Michael, but as he says:

I honestly do not remember a lot about this project.

This was a proposal. We didn’t have a game.

Michael didn’t have a game. But he did have this. For the first time since a small comic con gathering in 1997, Superhero.VG proudly presents the pitch trailer for X-Men: Ashes of the Apocalypse

Pretty cool, huh? Would you have played it?



Chris Baker

Games industry writer. Formerly Marvel, LucasArts, Zen Studios and Official PlayStation Mag. Site: c-bake.com Vids: Superhero.VG Book: c-bake.com/OldComicGames