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A look back at Superman video games.

Phediuk

Member
Sep 10, 2013
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There has yet to be a great Superman game. In fact, there has yet to be one that I would even call “good” without some serious qualifications. The reasons why are a bit harder to pin down. I mean, Superman is an A-tier license, a universally-recognized character, with over 70 years of material to draw from. Surely, at some point, a capable developer would put in a suitable effort to make a great game, right? Batman is the obvious point of comparison here: how is it that Batman has produced several great games, and several more decent ones (albeit, with a few stinkers along the way), while even the best Superman games are just sorta-okay? Stuff like Batman (NES), Return of the Joker, Batman Returns (SNES), Adventures of Batman & Robin (both the Genesis and SNES versions), and of course the Arkham series all blow away any Superman game.

The most common explanation is that Superman is simply a boring character. His popularity and relevance have faded in recent years, and devs accordingly regard him a second-string character who is, at best, an afterthought compared to Batman, who is the real prize when obtaining the rights to DC characters. While this explanation may have merit, I also think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: devs treat Superman as a boring character not worthy of their time, and so we get boring, half-assed games.

I think that, perhaps, an even bigger problem is that it’s difficult to apply Superman’s abilities to conventional game design. As I see it, there are two major problems that Superman, the character, presents to any would-be developer:

1. He’s invincible (Kryptonite and magic notwithstanding.) The usual way to make a game is to threaten the player with hostile enemies; the play must always stay on their toes to avoid being shot, stabbed, eaten, etc., by the various bad guys populating the world. But these guys shouldn’t be a threat to Superman at all. In fact, combat shouldn’t even be the focus of a Superman game, unless it’s involving some cosmic-level menace. Superman’s self-preservation should not be in doubt; instead, the challenge should revolve around his ability to prevent collateral damage. Superman is a character who concerns himself with the big picture; he single-handedly averts disasters as they happen. Civilian casualties should be the main thing to avoid, not damage to Superman himself.

2. He can fly. A standard, linear, level-based game just doesn’t make sense for Superman. One of his defining features is that he can go anywhere, whenever he wants, in a very short time. Open-world is the obvious fit for him, but most open-world games, particularly those set in cities, don’t give you unrestricted flight abilities—Saints Row 4 being somewhat of an exception (though full flight is only granted in the expansion.) After all, a whole lot more things can break when the player can move in three dimensions at will.

Many developers can’t be arsed to think outside the box to make a game suiting Superman’s abilities, so they just shove him into a standard action game where he can be punched to death and can’t fly (or, at least, can only fly when the game says so.) Let’s take a look at the history of Superman games to see how various devs have responded to the challenges that Superman poses to conventional game design. You probably know where this is going, but let’s look at each game anyway.




Superman
1979
Atari 2600
Developer: Atari | Publisher: Atari

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USwj5LfUTPw

In his video game debut, Superman’s goals are twofold: repair the bridge that Lex’s henchmen blow up, and then carry the henchmen to jail. The game is, in several respects, truer to the Superman mythos than many of the games that followed: Superman can fly to any location in the gameworld at any time; the gameplay emphasizes disaster-management over combat; it includes both the Superman and Clark Kent identities in gameplay; and, since the only enemies are a few street goons, Superman cannot die or be damaged in any way. Now, I won’t oversell the game’s appeal for you: it came out in 1979, and is boring, primitive garbage today. It is definitely not the best Superman game. But on the other hand, if we’re talking about the most important Superman game, this one wins by a landslide. It lays claim to a spate of firsts in video game history:

-First console game based on a non-video-game property.
-First game of any kind based on a comic book character.
-First game in which you can freely explore an environment spanning more than one screen, in real time. It is arguably the first open-world game.
-First game in which the player can pick up and carry objects in real time.
-First game to feature a scripted narrative event during gameplay (Lex’s henchmen blowing up the bridge.) That’s right: it did the Half-Life thing 19 years before Half-Life.
-First game with a pause function (using a switch on the 2600 console.)
-Lastly, the game was based on early code for Adventure, which came out a bit later; therefore, Superman should rightly be considered the first action-adventure game.

Reviews:




Superman: The Game
1985
Commodore 64, Atari 8-bit, ZX Spectrum
Developer: First Star Software | Publisher: First Star Software

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K2rRB0B7NE

Superman never actually walks in this game; he is always in flight. This is a remarkably varied game for its era, featuring six gameplay modes: a top-down static-screen view, in which you fly around and rescue civilians; a vertical scroller that scrolls down, in which you shoot through barriers to hit Darkseid at the bottom of the screen (similar to Gorf); a pseudo-3D view in which Superman rotates around the screen and must shoot a core off in the distance (much like Tempest or Gyruss); a 3D rail sequence where Darkseid throws a barrage of obstacles that Superman must avoid (pretty much the inverse of Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom); a side-scrolling level in which Superman is chased by Darkseid and must activate various switches and force fields to stop him (almost the inverse of Laser Gates on the 2600); and a side-view section where Superman must block fireballs from reaching the cities at the bottom of the screen (like Kaboom on the 2600.) Also, the intercutting between the overhead map and the action stages brings to mind David Crane’s Ghostbusters game, released on C64 the previous year. Although it’s a pretty well-made game, there’s not much reason to play it now unless you absolutely must play every Superman game, since the various segments, though numerous, are all very simple.

Oddly, this game isn’t listed on Mobygames yet, so I wasn’t able to retrieve reviews for it, though I know several magazines did review it.




Superman
1987
NES
Developer: Koboyuki Systems | Publisher: Kemco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-sOFozn5-8

The first truly terrible Superman game, this NES turd was produced quickly and cheaply by a contract studio for Kemco, who were a very hit-and-miss publisher to begin with. The game is a shoddy, buggy mess, complete shovelware with little in its favor except for the license. There’s 5 missions, and in each one, you have to wander through the side-scrolling open-world of Metropolis and find out what the fuck you’re supposed to do. The game is always infuriatingly cryptic, and the frustration is compounded by your inability to explore Metropolis without swarms of enemies attacking you wherever you go. Combat is complete ass—we’re talking barely functional collision detection here--so you’ll be avoiding as many enemies as possible, hoping you can find whatever you’re supposed to find before you die. Both the visuals and the music are quite poor too. Also, Superman has to take the subway quite often in this game, despite being able to, you know, fly. It does have a bit of camp value, though, namely in the chibi-style graphics and the talking Statue of Liberty (whoops, excuse me, the “Statue of Freedom”) at the start and end of the game. And for what it’s worth, the game even includes the Daily Planet in gameplay, as well as Clark Kent, both of which would be omitted in most subsequent games.

Just one review listed for this game:





Superman
1988
Arcade
Developer: Taito | Publisher: Taito

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0l6f3bmiGU

This game is one of the two most frequently cited for the title of “best Superman game”, along with Shadow of Apokolips. It’s easy to see why it’s more highly regarded than the rest: it’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s got some flash, there’s nothing broken about it, it generally feels as if someone actually gave a shit while making it, and it’s still arguably the best-looking Superman game. But it’s also the first of a line of games that treat Superman as if he were any other video game character. Rather than rethinking the gameplay to suit an invincible, flying character, Taito mostly ignored his powers and opted for a standard walk-to-the-right-and-punch-guys game. Sometimes, the game switches to flight mode, and then you punch and shoot guys in the air. The game has a two-player co-op mode, and the second player, weirdly, plays as a palette-swapped, second Superman, with no justification at all. I really wonder how this game would have turned out if, say, Konami had been at the helm, rather than Taito. It might’ve been a classic along the lines of TMNT or the Simpsons. As it is, a decent game, but a bit bland.

Again, just one review:





Superman: The Man of Steel
1989
Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX, Amiga, Atari ST
Developer: Tynesoft | Publisher: Tynesoft (PAL), Capstone (NA)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPNfRq1lBsE

The main draw of this game are the flying levels, which draw inspiration from (translation: completely rip off) Space Harrier. The Amiga version, in particular, looks quite nice in the flight segments; probably the best-looking sprite-scaler game available for it at the time. It’s also one of the few Superman games that takes inertia into account; when Superman is hit in midair during the side-scrolling levels, he jerks back through the air and must charge at his foe again. Most other games just have him do a canned animation where he blinks or whatever. In addition to the sprite-scaling and side-scrolling levels, you’ll destroy some asteroids from an overhead perspective, and then the game switches again to the behind-the-back view so you can fight a sentient space station, which serves as the boss. Another notable feature is that the game tells its story through comic-book-style interludes, which look pretty good too. All in all, one of the better Superman games, if a bit bare-bones mechanically. It’s just shooting things from a few different perspectives, but there’s nothing glaringly wrong with it (some may object to the lack of in-game music, but that’s the Amiga for you), and I’d say it’s well above the cut for an Euro-computer action game from this era.

Reviews:





Superman
1992
Genesis, Master System, Game Gear
Developer: Sunsoft (Genesis), Graftgold (SMS, GG) | Publisher: Sunsoft (Genesis), Virgin (SMS, GG)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWEKXUntL18

Remember when Brainiac had a beard? This game does. He’s the main villain this time, in a game that exists for no apparent reason other than for Sunsoft to use the DC license some more while they still had it. Sunsoft has followed a similar design to the earlier Taito game, with Superman progressing through some basic side-scrolling platformer/beat-‘em-up levels and occasionally taking flight for some shmup action. There’s nothing really wrong with the game. It’s mechanically sound, and it avoids the worst pitfalls of classic game design. However, it’s also games like this demonstrate why Sunsoft went bankrupt a few years later; it’s uninspired. Their whole 16-bit output was way below their brilliant work on the NES, and this game is emblematic of the unimaginative, assembly-line feel to their 4th-gen games. Nothing about this really feels like a Superman game; it’s just a reasonably inoffensive platformer that happens to have Superman in it. I mean, why the fuck does Superman have to walk anywhere? Why can’t he use heat vision whenever he wants? Why can some no-name mook kill him? It’s all too conventional for Superman. The game’s real saving grace is its excellent soundtrack, which might be the best thing, period, from any Superman game. The Stage 5 track, for instance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBuBaPTCGL4

P.S. Although the Master System/Game Gear versions are listed by some sources as a different game, they are pretty much straight ports of the Genesis version, and quite bad ones at that.

Reviews:




The Death and Return of Superman
1994
SNES, Genesis
Developer: Blizzard | Publisher: Sunsoft

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yka30n1D6L0

A competent beat-‘em-up from Blizzard, from the days when they were still focused on consoles. Unfortunately, “competent” is the highest praise I can give it; while there’s nothing really wrong with it, you could put just about any other character in Superman’s place and the game would not be much affected—it’s a bog-standard belt-scroller that makes only token attempts to be a Superman game. Superman can be beaten up by common thugs, he requires multiple punches to knock out even the lowliest bad guys, and he can use powers like flight and heat vision only at specified times. Also, the game feels padded, with the level themes repeated a few times, and some of the bosses recycled too. The shmup levels, which seem to exist only to fill out the bullet points on the back of the box, are boring as fuck and will quickly have you wishing to get back to the punching parts.

Reviews:




Superman: The Mysterious Mr. Mist
1996
Windows, Macintosh
Developer: Inverse Ink | Publisher: Inverse Ink

It’s just an interactive comic book, but hey, the ESRB still rated it, so I should probably mention it. The storylines all taken directly from the 60s Batman/Superman Hour cartoon, as are the included video clips. I’m not really sure who was itching to relive these ancient, terrible episodes, but since this was in development just before the 90s Superman cartoon started, I guess there wasn’t much else to choose from. Couldn’t find any screenshots or footage of this, so the cover art is all you get.




Superman
1997
Game Boy
Developer: Titus | Publisher: Titus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSZ1uqJ1mSU

Here’s a really shitty Superman side-scroller from the folks who would, soon after, make the hallowed Superman 64. The game is, put simply, trash. Your only powers are flight and punching. All you do is hunt for keys, and the only enemies are some guys in coats with guns. When you get all the keys in a level, you touch some flashing blocks and the game says “WELL DONE SUPERMAN”. Then it’s off to the next level. The game is literally 10 minutes long. The sprites are ugly, the music quickly becomes grating, and even the still image of Superman that serves as the game’s ending is poorly-drawn. It’s embarrassing that this rubbish was allowed to be sold on store shelves.

No reviews here.




Superman Activity Center
1998
Windows, Macintosh
Developer: Knowledge Adventure Inc. | Publisher: Knowledge Adventure Inc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw46KJ9BgP0

A multimedia suite featuring Superman, typical of 90s CD-ROM software. Click on stuff, hear some voiceovers, look at some animations. In the days before Youtube, kids may have been entertained by this. BTW, the only gameplay video I could find was an LP; sorry.




Superman
1999
N64
Developer: Titus | Publisher: Titus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ2UzTpXfpU

Here’s a game that needs no introduction. Aside from ET, it might be the most famous bad game of all time. Sure, it’s both a terrible game and a very poor representation of Superman also, but I think several other factors have led to its particular infamy: first comes the notoriety of the license, and being based on a very well-received cartoon; second, the small size of the N64’s library and the infrequency with which games were released made bad ones stand out a lot more; and third, it released just as games media was starting to become a big deal, and review outlets were becoming more numerous, making its unanimous critical thrashing especially noticeable for people who were following games at the time; and fourth, the game actually sold pretty well at first, meaning a fair number of people got to play it. Whatever the reasons, Titus quickly became a joke after the game’s release and went bust a few years later.

Reviews:




The Multipath Adventures of Superman: Menace of Metallo
2000
Windows, Macintosh
Developer: Brilliant Digital Entertainment| Publisher: Brilliant Digital Entertainment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r9Y__-NYqk

Less a game than an interactive movie. It’s like the precursor to Telltale’s games, where you pretty much just watch a story unfold and occasionally make a decision. Not terribly exciting nowadays, but hey, at least it works.




Superman: Shadow of Apokolips
2002
PS2, Gamecube
Developer: Sheffield House | Publisher: Atari

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu-MSE8Qob8

This might be the best Superman game. While I don’t think it’s the best game here in a general sense, I do think it is the most successful at being simultaneously not-shit and true to Superman, which earned it a 64 on Metacritic, currently the all-time high for the franchise. It excels (or at least, avoids sucking) in several ways: while not truly open-world, it does in several levels allow the player to freely fly around Metropolis, which has an impressive sense of scale; it includes the whole supporting cast as well as numerous classic villains; it continually presents the player new kinds of objectives that all feel appropriate to the character (rather than padding itself out with inane shit); it grants Superman his whole repertoire of powers; and it nails the aesthetic of the 90s Superman cartoon, even getting the voice actors to reprise their roles. The music is also on-point. However, the game has numerous flaws: the control scheme is way too complex, with seemingly every function requiring double-taps or holding one button while tapping another; the camera is abominable, almost constantly stuck at useless angles; you have to sit through long load times whenever you die; there’s way too many of the robot enemies (though they do at least make more sense as a threat to Superman than the street punks from other games); and your X-ray vision can barely see through anything (I guess all of Metropolis is made of lead.) It’s vastly better than the Xbox game that came out at the same time, but still a bit half-baked.

Reviews:

(continued in next post, please wait a minute)
 

Phediuk

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Sep 10, 2013
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Superman: The Man of Steel
2002
Xbox
Developer: Circus Freak | Publisher: Atari

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzOYnfmXaQk

Brainiac and Lex Luthor are menacing Metropolis once again, and it’s time for Superman to go into action in this OG Xbox exclusive. It seems to be an open-world game, but it’s not, since there’sn no real free-roaming; you’re always in a mission, and usually on a time limit. Critics lambasted it for its poor controls, sluggish flying speed, and monotonous structure—most missions are timed and have Superman do tedious tasks, consisting mostly of fetch-quests, putting out fires, and fighting minor minions. When time runs out, you start the whole mission over again. Critics also complained about the game’s poor framerate and bland visual style. Also, although the game does attempt to incorporate Superman’s arsenal of powers, such as X-ray vision, telescopic vision, and super-hearing, critics said that these simply served as a crutch for poor level design. Perhaps what damned the game the most, though, is that it had the misfortune to be released at almost exactly the same time as Shadow of Apokolips. Since that game was a lot better, Man of Steel was completely buried and is now strangely obscure; there’s barely any decent-quality gameplay screenshots on Google. Both games were published by Atari, which makes me wonder wtf they were thinking releasing them at the same time. They could’ve let this one have some more time in the oven, but hey, there goes me and my crazy ideas again.

Reviews:




Superman: Countdown to Apokolips
2003
Game Boy Advance
Developer: Mistic Software | Publisher: Atari

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f12cFlm19Lw

Shadow of Apokolips’ lesser and more boring handheld cousin. The isometric graphics look pretty nice here, and capture the look of the 90s show, but that’s pretty much the only good thing about the game. The music sounds like it came straight from the original Game Boy. Every mission consists of flying from point to point and beating up a bunch of guys; the mission variety from Shadow of Apokolips is completely absent. As in many other Superman games, Supes is a wimp here, able to be punched to death by any regular Joe Schmuck. It also includes a classic bit of video game padding: in order to get to the last boss, you have to get a perfect rating in every level. But in order to get a perfect rating, you can’t use your heat vision at all. So, you have to use only your punches for the entire game. It’s a dull and monotonous game and you shouldn’t waste your time with it.

Reviews:





Superman Returns: Fortress of Solitude
2006
Game Boy Advance
Developer: ? (sources differ) | Publisher: EA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mNXU8tv5-k

Superman is barely even in this game. It’s a puzzle game where you move some colored shapes around, similar to mobile apps you can now buy for about $3. This was obviously a quickie cash-in, but come the fuck on, this might be the ultimate example of a license being slapped onto an unrelated game.

No reviews here.




Superman Returns
2006
PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360
Developer: Tiburon | Publisher: EA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5aga7ZG588

This was another attempt at an open-world Superman game, and once again, it was critically mauled. For what it’s worth, it does attempt to be somewhat true to the comics by using villains who aren’t Lex Luthor (unlike the film), such as Mongul, Bizarro, and Metallo, and it also makes the prevention of destruction to the city a priority in gameplay (rather than Superman’s survival), but these are small comforts in the face of the utter thrashing dished out to it from virtually every review outlet. Common complaints: the game is butt-ugly, even on the 360; missions are repetitive and boring, designed to pad out the playtime as much as possible; objectives are pretty much all fetch-quests, along the lines of “find the eight _____ and take them to ____”; combat is mindless and button-mashy; there’s virtually nothing to do in the world aside from the specific missions the game gives you; Lex Luthor and Lois Lane appear only in cutscenes, which consequently feel disjointed from the gameplay; and the voiceovers from the film’s cast are phoned-in. The game wasn’t even a commercial success, since it wasn’t done by the time of the film’s release and, by most accounts, was still unfinished when it actually came out. It failed so hard that 10 years later, this is still the most recent console Superman game. What a waste.

Reviews (by far the most-reviewed Superman game):



Superman Returns
2006
DS
Developer: Santa Cruz Games | Publisher: EA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWxWFsVh5Ic

Completely different game from the console versions, though similar in design, in that it has Superman fly around a city to complete various (boring and tedious) objectives. Unfortunately, since it’s on the DS, it looks like total garbage, and it’s obvious that the hardware wasn’t designed to handle a game like this. Critics reviewed this one even more harshly than its console counterpart; only Superman 64 scored worse.

Reviews:




Superman: The Greatest Hero
2006
V.Smile
Developer: VTech | Publisher: VTech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS_m8ILCvPM

The V.Smile was an “edutainment” console aimed at small children, with the games designed accordingly. I’m not sure what’s supposed to be educational in this game, though. You deal with various disasters as Superman, leading people out from burning buildings, dealing with rogue robots and such. Visuals remind me of GBA games; not a bad-looking game, actually. With that said, the first level seems to be by far the most interesting, with the overhead levels following it looking blander and more static. All of the action is accompanied by an annoying narrator who tells the player exactly what to do at every possible instant. Even so, there are much worse games than this, and I admit that what I saw of it considerably surpassed my expectations. Kids might not learn anything from it, but in the days before iPads, they would have had some fun with it.




Superman
2011
iOS
Devloper: Chillingo Ltd. | Publisher: Chillingo Ltd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_CeSqlOCnE

Superman makes his obligatory entrance into the world of mobile gaming with this quite amateurish and slapdash iOS game. Designed to be played a few minutes at a time, the game simply has you fly around using virtual buttons on the touchscreen and use your context-sensitive abilities to clear obstacles: get near a fire and you’ll use freeze breath, get near an enemy and he’ll use heat vision, and so on. Keep doing the same few tasks until you get bored. It looks like a Flash game and seems to have about the same longevity. Also, the characters are all midgets for some reason. One point in the game’s favor is that it’s the only Superman game that lets you fly all the way into outer space at will. So that’s cool. Other than that, nothing to see here. If the comments on that Youtube video are to be believed, it’s not even available for download anymore.

Well, there it is, the whole sordid history. Discuss. What would you like to see in a Superman game? Have you genuinely liked any of the Superman games already made? Hope you enjoyed the thread.
 

Phediuk

Member
Sep 10, 2013
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Fun fact: Titus is the ONLY developer who has made more than one Superman game.
 

User 479360

Banned
Sep 9, 2014
20,929
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I didn't know there were that many Superman games, but it makes sense. I was just oblivious.

I've only played Superman 64 and The Death and Return of Superman, the latter of which I liked a lot. I can't remember if I owned it, or just rented it a lot.

EDIT: Forgot I also played through Superman Returns, which sucked and was a chore.
 

RaySpencer

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Aug 3, 2005
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I know Superman 64 gets a lot of hate, and rightfully so...

BUT, I remember renting this game a lot as a kid, I would have been about 14, and I loved it.
I always played it on easy, so then there wasnt any rings to fly through, and I would play with cheats so my powers were unlimited and I was invincible (you know, like Superman). I really enjoyed the game.
 

Redd

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Aug 23, 2007
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I know Superman 64 gets a lot of hate, and rightfully so...

BUT, I remember renting this game a lot as a kid, I would have been about 14, and I loved it.
I always played it on easy, so then there wasnt any rings to fly through, and I would play with cheats so my powers were unlimited and I was invincible (you know, like Superman). I really enjoyed the game.

Game was trash. Only game I ever bought and turned in that very day. Hurt me so much because I waited years for it to come out.
 
Dec 11, 2010
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Yeah I dug the idea of Metropolis having a health bar in SR but it just never looked like that great of a game so I never played it.

I think the tech is definitely here to make a great 3D superman game. Not sure if it "needs" to be open world or not, but that definitely helps since Superman is famed for flying around at ultra high speeds. I think you could divide the game up into a few open world sections mixed in with some linear sections. Some missions would have you saving people, while boss fights would generally have Superman facing down legitimate threats to him (i.e. Kryptonians or some of his more potent rogues).
 

RaySpencer

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Game was trash. Only game I ever bought and turned in that very day. Hurt me so much because I waited years for it to come out.

Im not arguing that, haha.

Im just saying on easy, with gameshark cheats, being 14, loving superman and my N64, I really enjoyed that game. Haha.
 

ElBoxyBrown

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Sep 6, 2014
21,891
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Just get Telltale to make a Superman adventure game with Dini as a co-writer. Have the game be one-part Clark Kent/Superman and the other part Lois Lane, doing journalistic work, and making decisions on how Superman solves a problem whether it be through calmer or aggressive methods which will outline how his character acts throughout the episodes. Everyone has failed at trying to make a Superman game around his powers and trying to go big and open world. How about we slow things down and get the writing down first.
 

Saikyo

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Jan 11, 2013
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Search for Sunman on NES, it was suposed to be a superman game by sunsoft (the same that did that classic batman game) but they lost the license and after trying to change it they shelved it...
 

schaft0620

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I'm not sure if it's ever going to happen, I'm not sure if Superman will ever be palatable like Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Avengers. Shit, if you were told a Venom/Carnage game is in the works along side Superman what would you be more excited for?


platinum's superman

I like to imagine I live in a world where they didn't fuck up the TMNT.
 

Mike M

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The game has a two-player co-op mode, and the second player, weirdly, plays as a palette-swapped, second Superman, with no justification at all
I always took P2 as a quick and dirty attempt at making Captain Marvel without having to do more than a change of colors.
 

The God

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I'm not sure if it's ever going to happen, I'm not sure if Superman will ever be palatable like Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Avengers. Shit, if you were told a Venom/Carnage game is in the works along side Superman what would you be more excited for?




I like to imagine I live in a world where they didn't fuck up the TMNT.

It depends on who's making the Superman game.
 

ElBoxyBrown

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Sep 6, 2014
21,891
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I'm not sure if it's ever going to happen, I'm not sure if Superman will ever be palatable like Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Avengers. Shit, if you were told a Venom/Carnage game is in the works along side Superman what would you be more excited for?




I like to imagine I live in a world where they didn't fuck up the TMNT.
If it was Agent Venom and a third-person shooter than yeah, that would be more exciting than Superman. 90s Venom and Carnage is played out.

We live in a world where almost everyone has fucked up Superman so the bar is already low.
 

Bobs Big Boy

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Apr 21, 2010
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Would also say there is not a good movie, or anything.

Couldn't think of a more boring character.

E: Very good write up and dissection of why these haven't worked tho.
 

jdstorm

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Jan 21, 2016
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The Myth that Supermans Personality is somehow unsuited to modern audiences needs to die. Superman clones from a personality standpoint have very successfully existed in the past 20 years with Peter Parker (Spider-Man 1-3) Captain America (the first avenger -Civil War) Aang ( Avatar:The Last Airbender) All successfully embodying the essence of the character. While being some of the most loved fictional characters of the past 20 years.

Any discussion as to why the games haven't worked cant be boiled down to anything specific. Some is lack of creativity/technical skills. Some is the cost of the lisence and the pressure to hit deadlines. Some is the technological limitations that old hardware imposed on open world games. A talented team given an appropriate budget should be able to make a great Superman Game on modern hardware.
 

Stiler

Member
Jun 3, 2009
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I think a superman game could be fun if they just focusesd on making it fun and enjoyable and stick to the comics, stop worrying about trying to "pigeon hole" him into a game iwth normal game thinking (IE enemies that do damage to damage to you, health bars, etc.

Instead focus on giving you rpg elements, allow you to actually make choices that impact the storyline of the game, how people see you and respond to your actions.

Allow you to actually feel like Superman, invincible and like a you know.......super hero and not just "Batman" or a mere normal human.

Would also say there is not a good movie, or anything.

Couldn't think of a more boring character.

E: Very good write up and dissection of why these haven't worked tho.

Richard Donner's Superman movie with Christopher Reeve was great.

The third one......not so much, and the less said about the newer ones the better.
 

Evo X

Member
Mar 5, 2013
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Year of Dreams 2 would be Rocksteady announcing a Superman game at E3 that doesn't suck.
 

jdstorm

Banned
Jan 21, 2016
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What I'd like to see ina superman game
Here are a few free ideas

Superman: A Day In the Life
Set over the course of one Day (20-24 hours)This game would combine an Until Dawn style choice based narrative with a Star Fox style Rail Shooter and some God of War QTE battles. Force players to choose between impressing their Boss, Asking out that cute girl and Saving the world from disaster after disaster. There would also include a high score chasing mode in the rail shooter sections

A Superman Puzzle game
Make superman have to use each of his abilities to solve puzzle Dungeons. Similar to the legend of Zelda or Portal

A Clark Kent Open World Stealth Game
It's an urban distopia and Superman is wanted by the authorities. Sneak your way around a totalitarian open world as journalist Clark Kent. Try and unlock the secret that could bring down the evil regime (while saving as many people as you can


Superman by Platnium Games
Superman Fights Giant Robots
 

sTiTcH AU

Member
Feb 22, 2015
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I still own Superman 64, never made it very far into that game. However I thought Superman Returns on 360 was really good.
 

camac002

Member
Jul 26, 2012
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As I see it, there are two major problems that Superman, the character, presents to any would-be developer:

1. He’s invincible (Kryptonite and magic notwithstanding.)

I feel like people who say that you can't make a decent Supes game because he's "invincible" think that a Superman game should be him running around stopping jewellery heists, and fighting ordinary thugs and have regular bullets bounce off of him. Basically stuff from the 1930s/40s etc. Clearly a new Superman game should have him facing off against other powered alien threats in the universe. Not small time stuff.
 

eyeball_kid

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Jul 25, 2011
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There has yet to be a great Superman game. In fact, there has yet to be one that I would even call “good” without some serious qualifications.

Superman 2600 solved all of your Supes game issues:
1) it uses kryptonite, along with a timer, to keep up player's sense of danger and urgency
2) it is open world (for the time)
3) Has no combat. Instead revolves around solving a puzzle and capturing baddies using his super powers
4) can turn into Clark Kent

Superman 2600 was one of the best games on that console. By all measures, it was a good Superman game, and a good game, period. I highly enjoyed it as a kid, and it would often be the 2600 game I went back to when I wanted to play something for half an hour.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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I think that, perhaps, an even bigger problem is that it’s difficult to apply Superman’s abilities to conventional game design. As I see it, there are two major problems that Superman, the character, presents to any would-be developer:

1. He’s invincible (Kryptonite and magic notwithstanding.) The usual way to make a game is to threaten the player with hostile enemies; the play must always stay on their toes to avoid being shot, stabbed, eaten, etc., by the various bad guys populating the world. But these guys shouldn’t be a threat to Superman at all. In fact, combat shouldn’t even be the focus of a Superman game, unless it’s involving some cosmic-level menace. Superman’s self-preservation should not be in doubt; instead, the challenge should revolve around his ability to prevent collateral damage. Superman is a character who concerns himself with the big picture; he single-handedly averts disasters as they happen. Civilian casualties should be the main thing to avoid, not damage to Superman himself.

This is when creative thinking is most needed. One aspect of Superman's power that I wish was further explored mechanically (both in comics and video games) is how he's essentially a solar battery that can recharge and discharge energy. Superman absorbs the sun's energy which is then converted into superpowers. One way to circumvent the "he's invincible" argument is to have a sort of dual-HP system, one HP bar that denotes how much sun energy Superman has for his abilities. Abilities such as heat vision, strength, ice breath etc., wouldn't use up too much energy when you use it at the base level. However, the player is able to charge up and unleash much stronger variants of the moves, but at the cost of draining Superman's existing solar energy. When the solar energy bar reaches 0, the secondary HP comes up that literally denotes Superman's health. When the secondary bar shows up, Superman takes damage from anything a mortal would such as gunfire, stabbings, etc. In addition, Superman has a cooldown period in which he must reabsorb enough energy before being "Super" again.

On paper, it solves the invincibility issue and introduces a strategic way to handle Superman's powers, so the player doesn't automatically go to the most OP abilities available without paying a cost. Superman really needs unconventional design in order to flourish, and as you've said, conventional design simply doesn't work as it's akin to taking a square peg and fitting it in a circle hole.
 

petran79

Banned
Sep 17, 2012
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I remember borrowing Atari2600 Superman in the late 80s. At that time I had experienced lot of NES, arcades and Amiga games.

Still I find it as one of the best games I've played. I spent hours on it. Back then I was a Spiderman fan and was quite dissapointed with the Atari2600 version of the game. While the GB version of Spiderman 1 was very good but also very hard to finish
 

Hesh

Member
May 21, 2013
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I somehow never heard of shadow of apokolips.

Looks dope !! I'm gonna try it out.

It's okay. If you have nostalgia for the old Kid's WB cartoon then your enjoyment will go farther, but it's pretty repetitive so you might get bored of it before you finish it.
 
Jul 30, 2015
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Great thread!

It seems crazy that there hasn't been at least one good Superman game, but then again I don't really see the appeal of Superman at all
 

redmetal86

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Oct 1, 2008
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The commercial for Superman 64 made it look way better than the game turned out to be.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgDP6bcNo0A

It got me good. Well played, commercial.

I know Superman 64 gets a lot of hate, and rightfully so...

BUT, I remember renting this game a lot as a kid, I would have been about 14, and I loved it.
I always played it on easy, so then there wasnt any rings to fly through, and I would play with cheats so my powers were unlimited and I was invincible (you know, like Superman). I really enjoyed the game.

After being frustrated with the rings, I played on easy too, but then I got so far and the game told me I had to play in normal mode to get to the end. I said screw it, and just used a cheat to get to the last level.

I was able to get some fun out of the multiplayer mode.