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A look back at Superman video games.

Apr 18, 2012
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I think of Lego Batman 2 as a Superman game and Lego Batman 3 as a Green Lantern game. My dream Superman game woud be develloped by either Platinum or Cyberconnect2.

Seriously people, if you want proof that you can make a great Superman game without depowering him while still telling a good story, just play Asura's Wrath. I wish that game was on PC so someone could just mod Superman and Darkseid into the game.

Edit : Forgot to thank the OP for a great post. Death and Return of Superman is the only "real" Superman game that I enjoy, even though I need to cheat in order to beat it. The one based on the animated series on the gamecube looked very nice at the time (it had a cell-shaded look) and was very faithful to the show but the controls were very awkward.
 

redmetal86

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Oct 1, 2008
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I think of Lego Batman 2 as a Superman game and Lego Batman 3 as a Green Lantern game. My dream Superman game woud be develloped by either Platinum or Cyberconnect2.

Seriously people, if you want proof that you can make a great Superman game without depowering him while still telling a good story, just play Asura's Wrath. I wish that game was on PC so someone could just mod Superman and Darkseid into the game.

Superman and Darkseid, fighting on the moon...I'll take it.
 

SMG

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Dec 13, 2015
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Could DC not find an artist for this cover?
 

Phediuk

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Sep 10, 2013
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I somehow never heard of shadow of apokolips.

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

Well, I wouldn't call it "dope", but it's not a total failure of a game, and is also pretty accurate to Superman as a character, so by Superman-game standards I guess it's a triumph.
 

Phediuk

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Sep 10, 2013
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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.

Yeah, if we're talking "best Superman game for its time", the 2600 one wins by a mile.
 

Jmille99

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Mar 21, 2016
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I always believed that the "Superman is invincible" argument comes from people who have only seen the movies as he sure as hell wasnt invincible in the animated show and isnt typically written that way in the comics.

I think going the Asuras Wrath approach would be best for a Superman game if any approach is taken. Its still focused on story and would highlight how over the top his powers and battles should be without dumbing them down into repetitive mechanics.
 

SatoAilDarko

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Mar 3, 2013
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I'll definitely pick up Shadow of Apokolips. it looks really good for what it is.

I'm not a Superman fan but I liked the DCAU Superman cartoon a lot and a lot of the villains are in this game. Looks very true to the show.
 

Travo

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Jul 31, 2014
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I wonder what a next gen Superman could be like? ArkhamKnight? Could we have a Metropolis with destructible environments.
 

Kanik

Sonic handles my blue balls
Jun 15, 2009
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For all the hate it gets, I had a lot of fun with Superman 64. It was a rental, so there was no buyer's remorse, and I had a Gameshark. So for me it was basically a few days of messing around in a playground of a game as Superman. Skipping levels to the content I enjoyed, with invincibility and unlimited everything. Just goofing off. I remember some awkward level where you could pick up either Darkseid or Mongul and just run around the level with him on your back.

Basically I treated it like Goat Simulator.

Sadly, Maximum Carnage is arguably better than any Superman game.

The red cartridge alone tops every Superman game.
 

redmetal86

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Oct 1, 2008
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For all the hate it gets, I had a lot of fun with Superman 64. It was a rental, so there was no buyer's remorse, and I had a Gameshark. So for me it was basically a few days of messing around in a playground of a game as Superman. Skipping levels to the content I enjoyed, with invincibility and unlimited everything. Just goofing off. I remember some awkward level where you could pick up either Darkseid or Mongul and just run around the level with him on your back.

Basically I treated it like Goat Simulator.



The red cartridge alone tops every Superman game.

Darkseid in the Daily Planet parking garage. He was such a pushover.
 

bryanee

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Dec 31, 2011
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I liked flying in Superman Returns. I feel they kinda nailed that part for the time.
 

Staf

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Apr 30, 2013
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Love Superman. No doubt my favorite superhero. But i've kind of made my peace with knowing that we will never get a good Superman video game (or movie post Reeves for that matter).
 

Memory

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Nov 19, 2014
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I'm with Greg Miller on this one, just make a TT game focused on story and not being invincible beating everyone up. Superman movies don't work and event the comics hardly do the concept justice, games just don't make that much sense unless you take away what makes superman superman.
 

Brofield

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May 21, 2012
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Excellent thread, OP. A depressing one for Superman fans like myself, but fascinating all the same.

I've pretty much only seen LPs of various games as opposed to playing them myself, but my only concern is that I would want John Williams licensed music to score the game. The only credit I give to Zimmer is the fight music. I hope something comes of it, though.
 
Sep 15, 2013
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The idea that Superman is boring comes from people whose only exposure to the character is from the lackluster films before MoS and BvS. Or the internet memes of Silver Age Supes.

The DCAU is his best on screen interpretation because they kept his power level in check.

Superman is the quintessential comic book character. He is the archetype of modern heroism. To say Superman is boring is to say the Cape genre as a whole is boring.



On the topic of games, just let Greg Miller write and direct a Superman game.
 

Finaika

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Jul 26, 2004
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I quite liked the Mega Drive Superman; awesome music & great Superman sprite.

Now give me a Supergirl game.
 

Sorcerer

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Jul 4, 2012
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I hardly found Superman on the Nes cryptic. I rented it and beat in a couple of hours in a single playthrough.

If you come into thinking its an adventure game its quite alright.

Never realized Superman on the 2600 came before Adventure. I thought it was the other way around. Enjoyable also, ahead of its time.
 

Slaythe

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Apr 18, 2014
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I'm with Greg Miller on this one, just make a TT game focused on story and not being invincible beating everyone up. Superman movies don't work and event the comics hardly do the concept justice, games just don't make that much sense unless you take away what makes superman superman.

Not being able to fly is also taking away what makes superman, superman ... Just saying.
 

Eradicate

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Apr 20, 2011
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Awesome thread Phediuk! Great breakdowns on the character and on challenges to creating games with the property!

Like others mentioned, I was a big Superman fan growing up. The only comic book character I ever liked actually, though my exposure to him was entirely through video tapes of the early '40s Technicolor cartoons.

With the games, I liked the Atari 2600 version. We rented the NES one and it was pretty fun using the different powers, but we definitely had no clue what to do. It was fun jumping around as Clark Kent punching the air and floating around though; more games needed that "mechanic." I also kind of liked the Death and Return of Superman, but just as a general beat-em-up. There were a lot of them for the SNES and Genesis, and it fit in well enough with the rest, but never standing out. Superman 64 was just hilarious. My one cousin bought it and during a family reunion we all tried to play it and it was ridiculous! I saw AVGN's video and that's the most I've ever seen of the game. I also vaguely remember someone played through the whole thing with commentary from an ex-member of Titus that worked on it or something like that.

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.

You know, that's a really good point. A dual health bar system would be interesting enough as you have to juggle them. Kind of like HP and MP with a substantial weakening when your energy bar is gone. You could do interesting levels then that play on that, like partially indoor/outdoor, all outdoor, or underground where you have to really manage and be careful with that bar since you can't recharge it. It really seems like a pretty easy "system solution" to the problem that's been done in other games before.

Again, bringing us back to the OP and why in the world this can't get figured out by anyone!

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.

Agree! He's SUPER! Having branching story lines with far-reaching impacts (the population, bad guys, available solutions to the next missions, etc.) would be awesome!

I always thought it'd be neat to tie in the Clark Kent element and have him try to get scoops and things detective-style with Lois as the way of unlocking the missions. (With hidden ones available if you keep digging deeper.) Just a way to direct the game a bit. Though you could just suit up and fly around, or walk around and have people ogle over you before you grab them and fly them to the other end of Metropolis scaring them senseless. Also you can only become Superman if you can find a telephone booth. (Though I think this is only from the cartoons I watched anyways and maybe not canon?) And you can take off your glasses to surprise Lois Lane whenever you want.
 

Phediuk

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Sep 10, 2013
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I always believed that the "Superman is invincible" argument comes from people who have only seen the movies as he sure as hell wasnt invincible in the animated show and isnt typically written that way in the comics.

I think going the Asuras Wrath approach would be best for a Superman game if any approach is taken. Its still focused on story and would highlight how over the top his powers and battles should be without dumbing them down into repetitive mechanics.

I dunno, I'd be disappointed if the Big Superman Game was just a series of QTEs.
 

djtiesto

is beloved, despite what anyone might say
Jul 26, 2004
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I dunno, I'd be disappointed if the Big Superman Game was just a series of QTEs.

Asura's Wraith is a bit more than that, there are some melee combat sections which are reasonably fast-paced and fun (though the highlight of the game is definitely the QTE sections). Overall, the game was a huge surprise and I'm not one for QTE games in general. If they gave the Supes license to Cyberconnect 2 and had them make a game in the style of Asura's Wraith (with presentation fitting for a Superman game) I think that could work out pretty well.

Great job with the OP though.
 
Dec 5, 2014
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While not a video game, I'd like to add this to the thread:

Superman Pinball

The Superman pinball came out in 1979 and was a pretty incredible widebody machine for it's time. It's fast and is relatively easy to play. Many consider it to be the best Atari pinball table ever made.

Worth noting, I once had the #2 world record score on this machine. That was well over a decade ago and now they use a new system to grade scoring for pinball in general. I adore this table.
 

flaxknuckles

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Nov 7, 2012
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I'm with Greg Miller on this one, just make a TT game focused on story and not being invincible beating everyone up. Superman movies don't work and event the comics hardly do the concept justice, games just don't make that much sense unless you take away what makes superman superman.

Screw that, I want to fly around punching people in the face and chucking cars at people. And Superman is not invincible for the fifty million time do you people even understand what that word means?
 

kunonabi

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Dec 2, 2010
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I've always wanted a Superman that's a spin on Blast Corps for the N64. Have some sort of natural disaster or villainous scheme that's about to happen and you have to use your various abilities to prevent it. Then you could have rankings based on speed, amount of civilian casualties, etc. Then as you get farther along you could have simultaneous events in multiple locations.
 

Phediuk

Member
Sep 10, 2013
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I've always wanted a Superman that's a spin on Blast Corps for the N64. Have some sort of natural disaster or villainous scheme that's about to happen and you have to use your various abilities to prevent it. Then you could have rankings based on speed, amount of civilian casualties, etc. Then as you get farther along you could have simultaneous events in multiple locations.

It's amazing how we can come up with these ideas so easily in forum posts, yet no one has ever cared enough to implement them in a real game.
 
Apr 18, 2012
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It's amazing how we can come up with these ideas so easily in forum posts, yet no one has ever cared enough to implement them in a real game.

I think it was always a question of budget rather than a lack of ideas. Superman is not an impossible concept to realize as a videogame, any talented developer could find a way to make a good Superman game with enough time and money. But in 2016, such a project would take years to develop and be extremely costly. The character is not as popular as he used to be (he's still my favorite) and his name has a very negative connotation in the gaming world. That's why Warner has invested so much on Batman, he's a much easier sell and has two very beloved billion dollar movies under his belt. And even then, the Arkham franchise happened almost by accident, Square started it all and then Warner took notice.

Hopefully, now that Batman is firmly established as a videogame franchise, Warner is going to try to diversify and they will give Superman another shot. I hope we get some good news next week at E3.
 
I think that a game based off of Grant Morrison's T-shirt and jeans Superman could work real well. He can't fly yet, only leap over tall buildings. He has the strength to stop a runaway bullet train. But doing so would KO him. Bullets and small explosions wouldn't phase him, but a rocket or tank shell would hurt. He would be faster than a speeding bullet. And there could be a level up system where the more solar energy (XP points) he absorbs, the stronger he becomes. So by the end of the game, he would be the Supes everyone knows and loves. As for his health, there could be two bars. One for Supes and one for the city. Not only would the player have to protect themselves, but also the citizens of Metropolis. Sort of like how,well, Superman would.

The game could also have Clark Kent sections. These would be treated more as CYOA or stealth games. The player is given multiple dialogue options when in a conversation or when they interview someone. Depending on what the player chooses, they could either get a big scoop right on the spot, or they would have to use more...Super tactics. This is where the stealth segments come in. The player, as Clark, would have to use some of his powers (super hearing, X-ray vision, heat vision, telescopic vision) without being discovered. These segments would be used to break up the action and show people that Superman does not just punch stuff and save kittens stuck in trees.

As for who would he fight, well, that's easy: Intergang, Braniac's robot horde, normal criminals (wait before you nitpick this one), and an assortment of lesser villians. Intergang could be equipped be with Apokoliptean tech that allows them to actually hurt Supes. Plus they could be used to set up a sequel (Darkseid). Braniac's horde (or Terminaughts as they were called in the comics) could show up towards the end of the game as a sort of zombie-esque enemy. Individually they would be nothing to the player, but a swarm of them would be difficult to deal with. Normal criminals would not be a problem for Superman at all, but they would be for the citizens of Metropolis. This is where being a hero comes in. During a robbery or shootout or whatever, the player must stop the criminals while simultaneously protecting civilians. As for finding a cadre of lesser known villians for him to slug it out with, it's Superman, he has a dozen of them.
 

schwabdizzle

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Dec 1, 2011
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I feel like developers are scared to make a Superman game because of how powerful he is. I still hope one day Rocksteady will take a stab at it.
 

Sinatar

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Here's hoping Megaton Rainfall turns out well, it's a superman game in everything but name.



 

Weltall Zero

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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.

OH. MY. I didn't get it at the time (yes, I played this game back then), but now that I have that much more DC character knowledge, I think that the second player is meant to be Captain Marvel / Shazam / Billy Batson!



It's pretty much as close as you can get by simply replacing colors (ex. the boots and speedo don't match as they have to be the same color as the cape). Further, it makes perfect sense as he's quite possibly the one DC character to be the closest match to Superman in terms of powers for the purposes of the game (flying brick with invulnerability and super strength). Pretty cool reference / easter egg if true!
 
Sep 19, 2015
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I feel like developers are scared to make a Superman game because of how powerful he is. I still hope one day Rocksteady will take a stab at it.

I wouldn't doubt it. But I always thought that's a losing mentality to have as a developer. I'd treat characters as a challenge in solving the problem of how to make great games featuring them. Another thing too is accepting that maybe you won't do it the conventional way, but that shouldn't be a huge problem.
 

Ktg1973

Banned
Oct 21, 2015
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Amazing thread.

I have fond memories of Tynesoft Superman on the Amiga and Superman: The Game on C64.
The best was the arcade game, i spent many days on it with MAME.
 

Phediuk

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Sep 10, 2013
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OH. MY. I didn't get it at the time (yes, I played this game back then), but now that I have that much more DC character knowledge, I think that the second player is meant to be Captain Marvel / Shazam / Billy Batson!



It's pretty much as close as you can get by simply replacing colors (ex. the boots and speedo don't match as they have to be the same color as the cape). Further, it makes perfect sense as he's quite possibly the one DC character to be the closest match to Superman in terms of powers for the purposes of the game (flying brick with invulnerability and super strength). Pretty cool reference / easter egg if true!

Looks like a blonde Wonder Woman clone was the original plan:

https://tcrf.net/Superman_(Arcade)