Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, its just part II of my retrospective look at Superman in games.
The Man Of Steel next appears in his very own arcade game.
Superman: Developed and published by Taito Corporation and released into arcades in 1988. A classic arcade style scrolling beat em’ up with a bit of shooting thrown in for good measure.
With you playing as Superman having to battle his way through five differing levels which include Metropolis, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington D.C. and finally the main boss’ spaceship.
There is no real plot to speak of, just Superman punching, kicking and shooting his way through the various levels until he comes face to face with Emperor Zaas.
Superman can use his flying ability to get around the stages all while beating the crap out of the many, many henchmen sent by Emperor Zaas. You can also use a projectile attack called “sonic blast” by holding and releasing the attack button. There are various objects you can throw and even break open to find bonus crystals. These crystals offer various power ups depending on their colour; blue restore any lost health, yellow allow the use of the sonic blast without having to charge and red crystals destroy all enemies on screen during the shooting stages.
The first four stages are split into three sections with horizontal scrolling then vertical scrolling and finally a side scrolling shooter section with a boss fight at the end. The final stage is a little different as it adds an extra scrolling shooting section at the start and another boss fight at the end.
The game featured a 2 player co-op option so two Supermen can fight side by side…yes two Supermen. The first player controls the original Superman in his classic blue and red outfit while the second player controls an alternate Superman in a red and grey outfit (see screen below). It is never revealed who this other Superman is or how he even exists.
Also of note, some unused sprites in the game’s code show a female character not seen in the final game who is dressed in a similar costume and even colours to Superman. Many think she was possibly going to be the original second controllable player and was intended to be Supergirl, which would have made more sense than two Supermen.
Superman arcade was simple enough stuff and standard arcade fare. Designed to eat your spare change as fast as it could. The game was okay at best and while it didn’t really offer anything amazing in terms of game play, it didn’t really do much wrong either. Just a very substandard game. It did feature pretty good renditions of the main Superman theme and even the; Can You Read My Mind tune from the original Superman film.
After his pretty average jaunt in the arcades, Superman returns to the home market next.
Superman: The Man of Steel: This one was relased in 1989 on the Acorn Electron, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, MSX, PC and ZX Spectrum. Developed and published by software company Tynesoft.
This one offered several different game play styles including 3D flying, overhead vertical scrolling and classic side scrolling sections.
Playing as Superman you have to battle Lex Luthor as well as Darkseid through a total of eight different sections, though some of the sections are similar to others in all but some graphical changes.
With you partaking in some pseudo-3D flying and shooting, side scrolling fighting and even a bit of overhead shooting too. The main objective of the game is to destroy a geo-disruptor you find at the end of the eighth and final level.
This game received some above average reviews when it was released…depending on which version you had. The 8-bit versions met with pretty poor reviews overall as the game was a bit too advanced for the then ageing technology of the day. However, the 16-bit versions for the Amiga and Atari ST had much better reception as the advanced hardware could handle the game as was originally intended.
It was a pretty decent game with some variety to the game play with the Amiga version being the best of the lot.
Superman still has not really had a game worthy of the word “super”. Maybe the 16-bit consoles could do better on a “super” console?
The Death and Return of Superman: Developed by Blizzard Entertainment and Sunsoft, published by Sunsoft in 1994 for the Super Nintendo. A port for the Sega Mega Drive was relased in 1995.
Based on the 1992 comic book story; The Death of Superman.
The game was the classic and standard beat em’ up style game play you have seen countless times before. Enemies appear on screen and you beat the crap out of them and move onto the next area where more enemies appear and you beat the crap out of them, rinse and repeat for the entire game.
Of note, Superman is not the only playable character in the game as Superboy, Steel, Cyborg and The Eradicator are all playable through the game too. All of the characters play pretty much the same way and have the same abilities with standard punches and kicks, grapple attacks, throws and even the ability to fly. You can’t choose which of the characters to play as, the game just follows a set story and each of the characters become playable as the story follows its set script.
The game’s plot follows on from the previously mentioned comic book; The Death of Superman as a kind of pseudo sequel to that story featuring Doomsday.
This one was another bare basic beat em’ up of which there were dozens of around this time that offering nothing really of any merit. The dynamic of the different playable characters was bare bones as each of the characters were pretty much all the same anyway besides the cosmetics. The fighting itself was rather dull and didn’t really utilize any of Superman’s powers and the levels all felt the same aside from a handful of shooting sections.
The Death and Return of Superman received pretty mediocre reviews at the time and for good reason.
Well that just about wraps up part II, but in part III will Superman finally get a great game to star in? Well no as the next one is often regarded as one of the worst games ever made…