Retro Review: Superman 64
Platform: Nintendo 64
Publisher: Titus Software
Developer: Titus Software
From my point of view Superman doesn’t translate into a very good video game character. Let’s face it, he is practically indestructible so it’s hard to imagine enemies hurting him. To my knowledge there haven’t been any decent Superman games and in fact the Man of Steel has the dubious honour of being credited with appearing in one of the worst games of all time.
The original vision for Superman 64 was supposed to be an open world game where Superman could fly anywhere in Metropolis however, according to lead producer Eric Caen, there was a lot of political fighting between the developer and Warner Brothers. Despite working on the game for a considerable amount of time, Titus were forced to make massive changes, meaning we got a broken mess that is barely playable.
I’d heard stories about how terrible Superman 64 is but I’ve never actually played it for myself until now. Could it really be that bad? The short answer is yes but let me explain why.
The story is that Lex Luthor has kidnapped your friends and trapped them in a virtual world.
You would expect Lex Luthor to really challenge Superman, making him complete various action packed quests whilst sending a few super villains for him to fight along the way, as he attempts to rescue Lois Lane, Jimmy Olson and Professor Emil Hamilton.
In Superman 64, Lex Luthor is a complete sadistic piece of shit because all he wants is to watch Superman fly though rings! That’s your first quest, fly through an obstacle course of rings and get to the end before the timer runs out. This sounds easy enough but when the controls are utter arse you know you have your work cut out for you!
If you manage to get to the end in time the next quest gives you mere seconds to fly down and stop a car from running someone over. On my first attempt I had no idea what I was doing and the car smashed head on into the person. Instead of starting that challenge again you are forced to go back to the beginning of the level and fly through the damn rings!
When I did finally manage to figure out what I needed to do, (basically I needed to pick up the car and throw it away, making it explode killing the driver and passengers; not a very Superman thing to do!) guess what daring challenge I was faced with next? Yep, flying through more rings! This is as far as I managed to get as I got frustrated and wanted to throw the game out of the window. If I did throw it out of the window it would probably fly better than Superman does in the game!
Graphically the game looks very poor with a massive amount of fog covering the screen. I read somewhere that this was supposed to be kryptonite fog which affects Superman’s powers. If anything you’ve got to applaud the developers imagination for coming up with such baloney to disguise the fact that the game looks like a foggy turd!
The less said about the sound and music the better as it really is completely bland and unremarkable. The sound of Lex Luthor laughing as you fail your mission over and over again was like a massive kick in the testicles after you’ve already had them set on fire!
Superman 64 is an utterly terrible game and well worthy of all the criticism it receives but, (and it’s a big but) I also have to cut it a little bit of slack. If the stories are true that the intended game was changed at the last moment before its release, is it really the fault of the developers? Don’t get me wrong, this game is shockingly bad and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but maybe the developers did the best with what they could and it’s not just down to sheer incompetence. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking?
Graphics – A blocky foggy mess that will make you wonder if you’ve suddenly developed cataracts. 1
Sound – Completely bland uninspiring music and sound effects. The sound of Lex Luthors laughter when you fail is worse than nails on a chalk board. 1
Playability – Terrible imprecise controls are the total opposite of what are required to accurately fly through rings whilst on a time limit. 1
Re-Playability – Let’s just say I won’t be playing it anytime soon unless I’m drunk or taking hard drugs. 1
Overall – There is a certain curiosity value with Superman 64 if only to see just how bad the game is. However, if I were you I wouldn’t waste my time confirming what everyone already knows.