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Superman Package Art


After more than 50 years on comic books, Superman and his fellow superheroes had been converted into mostly shoddy videogames throughout the last ten years. The recent Nintendo 64 incarnation of Superman doesn't fare much better than its predecessors, and in some respect, fared far worse.

Graphically, Superman disappoints from beginning to end. The environments in Superman are bathed in a sheet of fog, with extremely limited visibility on all directions. And unlike Turok, where the graphics were breathtaking, enough to compensate for the fog, the polygonal rendition of Metropolis in Superman is a snore, with faded colours and ugly textures stretched to fit large polygons.


The character models themselves are simple, cars looks like boxes, buildings like rectangular shafts with no interesting features, and superman himself looked heavily under rendered, with a cape so stiff you'd think its a sheet of metal hanging off his back.

What is even more surprising is that the game doesn't support anti-aliasing. The game environment has 100% aliasing, with ugly jaggies popping on everything made out of a polygon. With the fog, simple polygon models, boring graphics, and the lack of anti-aliasing, you might wonder what happened to all of N64's processing muscle. This is one of those rare games where the screen shots look better than the actual game itself.


The music in this game is bearable, and I'm glad that Titus didn't go with some easy to do 'techno' soundtrack. In fact, I'd venture as far as saying that the music has some real strength in it, if only the graphics and gameplay lived up to their part. Sound effects wise, the game does contain a handful of high quality voice samples from Superman and Lex Luthor. The keyword here is a 'handful'. Samples such as Luthor's sinister launch after a defeat or Superman's "then there is not time to waste" is repeated every single time, to the point where you want to hurl something at the N64. It is very annoying. High quality samples aside, the sound effects in the game are few and far between, and if they do occur they're nothing extraordinary.


I want to make completely clear that Superman is a game for pre-teens, a market Superman is aiming for. I suspect gamers in the younger demographic group will find the game more enjoyable than I did. In that respect, I won't hold some of the points I'm going to make below against the game.

Superman is a licensed game, and there's really not much we can expect the predictable struggle between the big 'S' and Lex Luthor. The story is shallow, and this is where the game falls flat on its face. While Miyamoto and other top end game developers manage to turn a simple story line into their advantage by allowing the game to revolve around gameplay and exploration, Superman is a game that needs a coherent story. To begin with, gamers are shown a brief cinema of Lex Luthor kidnapping Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and are then dropped into Metropolis, with no clue of what to do next. As if to add more challenge into the gameplay, the developers decided to add a clock which limits how much time a gamer can spend on a level. It was so utterly ridiculous that I sat there for half a minute trying to figure out what exactly I am suppose to be doing. In case you're wondering, I did figure out (finally) that the rings are suppose to be part of a 'maze' Lex set up against Su! perman, and Superman is suppose to fly through them, Pilotwings style. At the end of a set of rings, Superman must them sweep down to the streets below to save innocent pedestrians from two cars heading towards them. 'Saving citizens' is a scenario that could have been very interesting, if only it was developed correctly. Graphical problems and stiff controls kills the game outright. The cars are hard to spot, and the lack of anti-aliasing and fog hampers the game even more. From the sky, looking down, the cars looks like two black blobs, and the people Superman are suppose to save can't even be seen, not to mention that controlling Superman feels like I'm driving a bus,. Compounding the problem is the ridiculously little amount of time given for the task. Gamers will often need to try two, three times before they get it right. Once they do, they must then move on to the next set or rings, without saving.


To its credit, Superman's multi-player mode, although not as polished as I hoped, provides much needed replay value to the game, and adds some level of fun. In addition, the game comes with a free comic book, a bonus for fans for the franchise.


Essentially, the problem with Superman is that there is no feeling that the player is actually in Metropolis. Gamers won't feel that they are taking the role of Superman. The city might as well be a fog ridden ghost town, and Superman, a cardboard cutout. Superhero videogames have traditionally done well when they have lots of action in them. Games such as side scrollers in the vein of Double Dragon, or as Capcom has done, an all out one on one fighting experience. Younger kids might disagree with my assessment and enjoy the title, especially if they are Superman fans. The bottom line from me is that this game is not worth your buck.

final score 4.0/10

Staff Avatar Dexter Sy
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