Superman (Nintendo 64)
Superman (commonly known as Superman 64, and on the back cover as Superman: The New Adventures) is an action-adventure video game on the AGW based off the DC Comics superhero of the same name and the animated series titled Superman: The Animated Series. It was developed by Titus and released in 1999.
Lex Luthor creates a virtual Metropolis and traps Lois Lane, Professor Emil Hamilton and Jimmy Olsen inside. He then forces Superman to face the challenges of the virtual world to save them.
There game is divided in two types of levels: Flying and Mazes, each involve clearing objectives and puzzles with time limits. In Flying levels players navigate Superman through a track of rings, then Superman must then complete a different objective like lifting cars or fight an enemy. In Maze levels Superman must complete a specific set of puzzles, usually searching for key times, killing enemies, escort missions, ect.
The game was originally a lot more polished in its prototype form, with tighter controls, a variety of objectives spelt out clear to the player at the start of each level and can be read at any time by pausing, no flying through rings, a much more forgiving time limit, Superman starting each level with nearly all of his powers and plans to implement a multiplayer mode with up to 4 players. The reason for virtually all the released game's problems was due to interference and demands from Warner Bros and DC Comics for "political reasons", including not allowing Superman to fight real people and having to pick up icons to use his powers. This forced Titus to throw out almost two whole years worth of development and reprogram almost the entire game from scratch just months/weeks before release. The game's negative reception as well as the license expired later ended up being a factor in the PlayStation version of Superman that Titus was also working on (intended to be a completely different game rather than a port) being cancelled.
Why it Sucks
- The game originally came bundled with a comic book intended to explain the plot, but the comic itself is just as bad.
- The controls were heavily criticized for being very unresponsive, making the ring stages extremely difficult. Because of the many ring stages, this made the game extremely frustrating, which becomes worse as some rings are moving. Superman goes off-course too easily. Darklordjadow1 developed a method to make Superman somewhat easier to control, which is to spastically twitch the analog stick rather than holding it in the direction one wants him to move.
- The practice mode is also flying through rings, except without the time limit.
- Very short draw distance. The game says that "Kryptonite Fog" covers the world, except it doesn't excuse the indoors levels having the same short draw-distance as well. By the way: Kryptonite is highly radioactive and poisonous, and that much Kryptonite Fog found in the game would cleanse virtual Metropolis of all life.
- Collision detection is so bad that Superman can get stuck on buildings he's several feet away from and he can easily become out-of-bounds in the indoor levels. When trying to go too far in outdoor levels, a text prompt displays "You're trapped in my world, Superman".
- Bad and inconsistent framerate.
- Awful graphics nearly on par with Bubsy 3D. It was 1999, and there was no need for the graphics to be that bad by then. The character models don't look much better, either.
- Half of the levels in the game have the player "solve [Lex Luthor's] maze", which amounts almost to flying through rings and picking up cars. Players spend most of the game doing these tasks.
- The other half of the levels involve solving overly complicated mazes, followed by more rings to fly through.
- Awkward attacks where Superman randomly flails his arms to attack. The enemies besides the bosses are random black figures, with some of them shooting projectiles that can damage Superman.
- An insane amount of glitches due to being released in an apparently unfinished state, such as lifting invisible objects. Some of them allow the player to skip levels.
- Superman can still take damage and get killed after completing a level, and dying after that leads to failing that level despite already having beaten it, requiring a complete restart of the level.
- Players have to repeat the previous ring-flying segment on failing the objective that comes immediately after, which is likely to happen due to the unforgiving time-limit in virtually every level and the fact that mission objectives only stay on-screen for about a second, giving the player no time to adapt. After a certain amount of tries, this stops occurring and players actually start at the mission instead of having to "solve the maze" again.
- Metropolis has very poor detail; smaller buildings in the city are literally depicted as flat textures on the ground, which the developers seem to have tried to justify as the game being set in a "virtual Metropolis" that Lex Luthor created.
- Superman only gets one life to clear the Maze levels (not the flying levels which Lex Luthor declares the sequence of rings as a maze) and there are no checkpoints. Failing (quite likely because of the bad controls) sends the player back to the beginning of the Maze level.
- Puzzles are overly cryptic and there are very few useful hints.
- Horrible and cringe-inducing sound effects.
- The gameplay is mind-numbingly repetitive and boring.
- No replay value.
- The soundtrack is incredibly generic and not even the default Superman theme is included.
- Broken enemy AI. The final boss doesn't even try to attack Superman, as he has literally no AI.
- Trying to play the game in Normal mode or lower, upon reaching the final level (assuming a player is masochistic or patient enough to play that long), the player is told that the final level is only available on Hard skill level (Superman Mode). In other words, one must play the whole game to that point again. The game defaults to Normal mode, meaning players unaware of needing to play on Superman Mode would have to replay the game from the beginning.
- The final level in the game is almost unbeatable because of a glitch that causes Superman to suddenly die for no reason at all. Even using external cheats like the Game Shark Pro to give him infinite health doesn't prevent the glitch from occurring.
- In the demo, Superman gives up on flying through rings and starts flying against a building.
- The ending is even worse than the "You're Winner" endings from certain NES games, with Lex Luthor literally mocking the player.
- The camera cannot be adjusted.
- Superman has to pick up special icons in order to use his powers, like his heat vision, super breath and etc, which is extremely stupid as they can also be hard to get due to the aforementioned controls, and the powers having limited uses.
- The game's credits don't list any testers, proving and/or suggesting the game wasn't even playtested when rushing it out for release.
- It is possible to find an X-Ray Vision power-up in the sixth level, but all it does is reveal that there is lead in the wooden crates, which the player throws at Metallo to deal extra damage to him during his boss fight. Outside of this level, it serves absolutely no purpose.
- Several issues relating to the multiplayer:
- The mode can only be found by plugging a second control and selecting New Game.
- The first mode, called Battle, has both players flying through a level trying to gun each other down, however, because of the horrid draw distance, it is almost impossible to see the other player. It does not help that both players have tons of health and the weapons deal very little damage.
- The second mode, called Race, does not explain how it must be played and uses the rings mentioned before.
- Superman is not playable in any of the modes.
- Beta builds were discovered that were actually more playable than the finished product, and an unreleased PlayStation 1 version beta was revealed to be far more technically competent despite being incomplete.
The game holds a 22.90% at GameRankings. Matt Casamassina of IGN rated Superman 3.4 out of 10, speculating that the developer had not "put forth any priorities for this title other than to finish it" and commenting that the game has a "rushed, careless feel." Casamassina states that this feel "overflows into its visuals," criticizing the inconsistent frame rate, excessive use of distance fog, and frequent clipping seen in the game's environments and objects. He also criticized the game's poor collision detection, abundance of glitches, and poor enemy AI. Casamassina concluded the review with "[Superman] is executed so poorly that it actually serves to butcher the reputation of the prominent action hero."
It is often known for being one of the worst games of all time and won several awards for that title. Despite the negativity, it was a top seller in North America.
Reviewer "Darklordjadow1" made a four-part review of the game, stating that he wanted to show the entirety of the game so people could know just how unbelieveably awful the game is. By his own admission, he spent months struggling with the game and had to resort to cheating with a Gameshark Pro because he kept losing due to game-breaking bugs. After reviewing the game, he made it a running gag to take jabs at Titus Software in future videos.
The Angry Video Game Nerd did a review of the game and questioned about the purpose of Superman 64 wondering if it is "some sort of insanity test".
The game appeared as No. 2 in WatchMojo's.com's "Top 10 Worst Video Games of All Time" list.