Tuesday, August 10

Game Review - Superman 64

    Holy Crap! Those are the first words that come to my mouth after playing this…thing. Superman for the N64 is an abomination to the gaming world in every sense if the word. The rest of this will be more of an angry rant than a review, but that’s cause there really is no other way to review this.
    OK, maybe I’m getting a-little ahead of myself; I haven’t even talked about the game yet. For those of you who are fans of the Angry Videogame Nerd you've probably seen his video review already (warning - language) - don’t worry, I’ll be covering plenty of new ground here. For those who aren’t familiar, let me explain this game. It’s often referred to as Superman 64 even though it’s just called Superman, probably because the Nintendo 64 has a reputation of putting “64” at the end of its titles, just like the Super Nintendo had the reputation of putting Super at the start of its titles. The game doesn’t use the John William’s theme, as the developers Titus (what kind of stupid developer name is that anyway?) would rather use some generic, unmemorable background music.

    The game’s story is that Lex Luthor has brought Superman’s friends into some virtual world. How? Why? Also, if he made this virtual world, why not make it so that Superman loses his abilities when he enters it, because nothing else in this world is consistent with the laws of physics. This game mostly comprises of flying through rings. Yup, for some reason Superman has to fly through rings to get where he needs to go.  If he misses too many rings, he fails and has to try again. Why is it so important that Superman flies through these rings? Also, if Lex can make Superman fly through these rings, then again - why doesn’t he just disable Superman’s powers? Everything about the game’s premise makes absolutely no sense.

    The game’s controls make flying through these rings nearly impossible. You’ll try at least 15 times before you even get close to finishing the first ring segment. You’ll get stuck on buildings despite being ten feet away from them, you’ll turn too hard or too light when you try to avoid the former, and you’ll probably end up punching the TV or snapping your controller in half from the inevitable rage you’ll experience. Once you pass the rings, you’ll have instructions flash in your face for about 1 second before they disappear. Great, so I have to do something but I have no idea how. What you’re supposed to do is pick up two cars before they hit people.  If you fail at this, you’ll have to return to the frickin rings again. If you succeed, you go onto the next section…FLYING THROUGH RINGS.

    Then you have to lift a police car and fly it through a goal as Lex’s minions fire rockets at you. Of course, it looks nothing like a police car, in fact nothing looks like anything in this game. Three times in a row Superman threw the cop car when I didn’t want it to because of the crap controls. Eventually I advanced to the next rings section. This is the point where the Nerd gave up, and where I delve into the territory he didn’t cover.
    First of all, there are multiple difficulty modes. For the fun of it, I tried Superman (hard), and I couldn’t tell the difference between that and Normal. Then I tried Easy and guess what, it removes the rings. Now all you do is fly to your destination. You still have a time limit, but its way too easy to get there. Thanks to this, I was also able to spend time looking around the city – its lame. Buildings are far apart, and there are really only four of five different buildings that are randomly placed all over. There are also elevated walkways between different buildings, but I have no idea why they’d be there. Also, the walkways have no railings despite being 50 feet above the ground – that’s safe, right?

    Another option allows you to chose the screen size...wait what? OK, the game's default setting is "letterbox" mode (black lines on the top and bottom of the screen to simulate wide-screen). You change the option once and it goes into full-screen mode. Why not just start with full-screen mode? I mean, the black lines only cover up the top and bottom of the screen, so the full-screen mode actually shows more. Why even have this option on an N64 game? Of course, it gets worse when you change the option again - IT GOES INTO 80% MODE! What is 80% mode you might ask? Well, the game only takes up 80% of your TV screen. What...the...frick! But wait, it get's better. There's also a 60%, 40% and 20% mode. Try playing a game that involves flying at high speeds through rings when it only takes up 20% of a 13" TV screen, I dare you. I can't believe they thought that was a good idea to have an option where the game only took up 20% of the TV. To an extent I can understand the wide-screen/full-screen option, but the default wide-screen shows nothing new making the option completely pointless.
    Anyway, after you save the cop from the dudes with rocket launchers you have to beat up four guys. They’re completely black and look like they took 30 seconds to skin. Afterward, you get to the tornado section, and holy crap was this annoying. You have to touch some symbol to gain ice breath and then use it on three tornadoes. OK first of all, why should Superman have to pick up an icon to use one if his powers? Secondly, how does ice breath stop a tornado?  Thirdly, why are there three tornadoes? Finally, if the tornadoes are in the middle of the city, why haven’t they destroyed any buildings yet, and why are there three civilians just standing there waiting to get sucked up? Also, you have a special meter that measures how much “ice breath” superman has, and once you run out, you can no longer use it. To make matters worse, you have to be very close to these tornadoes to blow them out. Also, you can’t use “ice breath” when you’re moving, and the only way to stop is to wait for Superman to slow to a stop. This section is frustrating in every way imaginable.
    After you finally beat the tornadoes, you fly to an underwater icon and the mission finally ends. The next mission takes place in some dam where some fruitcake I’ve never heard of is setting bombs to flood the virtual city…why? Also we finally we have a change of music…for the worse. I had to mute the TV because of how annoying this music is, and that’s coming from someone who’s played through Hour of Victory and watched Garbage Pail Kids. Anyway, this mission takes place in a tight hallway and a series of rooms, which makes Superman’s flying pretty much useless. You have to find some key and use it to unlock doors. It took me several minutes to figure out how, but I’ll tell you here. You have to go back to the first computer room and press the fly button while standing next to it. Why is the use button the same as the flight button? I really frickin hate this game. I played through a bit further, lowered some water, rescued a bunch of nameless hostages, and then a countdown timer started. Oh frick, another countdown – this game should have been called “Superman – Rampage of the Countdown Timers”. I pick up some speed power-up, which made me run much faster – and through a wall.

    Oh great, now I’m stuck outside the map and I can’t get back in. I can’t fly, I can’t jump, and eventually the whole environment turned blue and I couldn’t even move. That’s where I gave up.
    Superman is widely regarded as one of the worst video games ever made, and for good reason. The joystick controls are atrocious, the graphics are incredibly bland and the music ranges from utterly forgettable to really frickin annoying. The premise is insanely stupid and there is no logic behind anything that goes on in this game. Why do you fly through rings? If Superman‘s pretty much invincible - in the comics he walks around nuclear warhead impact zones – then how do regular explosions hurt him in this game? Why doesn’t Lex just disable Superman’s powers in the virtual world and kill him? I have no idea what the worst part of this game is, but the best part is that it will never hurt me again…I hope.
    Two word review: Blasphemous diarrhea

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