Ever played a good Superman game? Me neither but why is that? Batman’s had much success in the video game world and DC have had successes from DC Universe Online titles the versus fighting game Injustice. However when it comes to Superman things just don’t go as well. While they have tired, many times, Superman is well-known for having a terrible relationship with games and Superman 64 is widely considered to be the worst video game of all time. So what’s the problem?
Superman breaks the rules of gaming
Superman’s powers don’t translate into games very well. Playing Arkham City I often thought to myself “what if I was Superman right now?” Well then the game would have been a lot more simple and a lot less fun. The Arkham games capitalized of Batman’s human limitations producing a integration stealth, puzzle-solving, combat and platforming.
The problem for Superman is that while his superpowers make him who he is they do not translate well into video games. For example one of the most iconic games around, Super Mario Bros, is a primary about overcoming pitfalls, objects and enemies to reach your destination.
First of all, Superman can fly meaning any platforming challenge is pretty much eradicated. My favorite part of Arkham City was the entire Wonder Tower segment. It had everything: puzzles to solve, enemies to remove and much, much more but if it were a Superman game the Man of Steel could shoot up the sky in a matter of seconds and we would have missed out on all that fun.
Man of Steel
What do the likes of Mario, Pac-Man and Sonic is something all these games have a common? They all feature enemies that can hurt them but Superman is more-or-less invincible but invincibility can only ever be a temporary state in video game. Otherwise it’s not even a game anymore.
The Arkham games provided enemies who when armed were a significant threat. Rather than just taking them out all at once you were encouraged to use your environment to plant traps and sneak up on them one at a time. Players were required to think of how they were going to take out the bad guys but with Superman that again all goes out the window. There is simply no need to hide when you can could just fly in and take out everyone with ease.
Every game needs to have some sort of risk involved otherwise it’s no fun and there are very few things that can hurt Superman. Kryptonite is not a viable answer either. That will turn him from being everything to being nothing. It may be a decent plot device but it wouldn’t work for a video game.
This looks like a job for..
Despite all this, I believe a good Superman game can be done if made correctly. The game would have to been thought of in a different way. Traditional game mechanics wouldn’t work but the game should be cater towards Superman’s abilities. The game not only needs to enable the player to feel like they’re Superman and also to make player feel immersed into world that needs a Superman.
I feel that Superman’s abilities can be put to good use and could allow for some unique experiences if the right minds were behind it so for my next article will be How to Make a Superman Game.