Our Chris is writing for us once again after a short break and moving back to Canada (come baaaack!!! – Ed). As usual he’s also come up with some amazing Superman artwork for your eyes only! Here he is reviewing a game we didn’t even know about…
Developed by Arcade giants Taito in 1988, Superman exploded into the coin-op arena to an expectant fan base. Superman could be considered the first Superhero and is possibly still the most popular one. Previously there had been three games featuring the Man of Steel that had been released for the C64, Atari and NES. None of these games offered anything incredible, they were mostly platforming titles with a Superman skin placed over the top. This arcade title was something different.
The graphics feature incredibly detailed sprites for the era, they capture the spirit of the character perfectly. Heroic poses and stances help reinforce the fact that you are playing as one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe. There are varied enemy designs and impressive death animations when you unleash your powerful fists and pummel the bad guys into submission. The backgrounds aren’t as detailed but feature silky smooth scrolling.
This is the Superman from the ’80’s comic books rather than from the excellent Christopher Reeve movies. However, as a nod to the popular franchise, the game features a glorious 16-bit rendition of the iconic John Williams score. This adds to the powerful atmosphere and really helps with the overall enjoyment of the game.
The Gameplay is split up into two sections, a scrolling beat em up which is then followed by a vertical or horizontal flight section. The beat em up sections are similar to the Streets of Rage series while the flight sections are based on classic shoot em ups such as Thunder Force. The game repeats in this vein through all five levels. Through these levels you have access to all of Superman’s powers. As you walk around the street punching bad guys you can pull the joystick upwards and soar into the air. It’s limiting but still feels exhilarating, the super strength and laser eyesight helps to vary the combat options.
One of the major problems with any game featuring Superman is creating a suitable challenge for the player while maintaining his sense of power. In the comic book narratives this vulnerability is portrayed through his emotional state and his connections to his various human companions.
Through the game we are introduced to a new villain who is crafted specifically for this adventure. The green skinned evil Emperor Zaas relies on his Alien powers of strength and stamina which makes him a suitable match for Superman. The game features in intriguing two player mode. Player two controls a palette swapped red version of Superman which may be a nod to Shazam as his color scheme is identical.
This is a fun, arcade Superhero punch em up which features big, beautiful sprite work and a rousing John Williams score. If you can grab this on MAME you won’t regret spending a few hours playing as the original and perhaps most iconic superhero in the business.