Featured Columns

February 4, 2010

The Comics Console: Superman 64 pt 1

Every now and then a game comes around that is so good it’s looked upon as a piece of art rather than just a video game. And every now and then a game comes along that is so bad, we remember it simply for the unmatched fail it defecated on our society. Embarrassingly enough for comic book fans, one of those epic turds came in the form of a Superman game.

I think most people would come across an atrocity like Superman 64, and bury it deep down into the darkest corners of their minds, never to be remembered again. NOT ME! I’m the kind of guy who celebrates the bad just as much as the good. And Superman 64 is REALLY bad. So bad in fact that The Comics Console is dedicating the entire month of February to its hainocity.

If you’re like most people, you either never played Superman 64 — actually titled Superman: The New Adventures — or you never got past the first stage. So what I’ve done for you (because I love you so so much) is endure the 3D hell that is arguably the worst video game of all time so you don’t have to.

But first, lets go back in time. It was 1999. The video game industry was dominated by only two consoles — The Sony Playstation and the Nintendo 64. The super successful Superman: The Animated Series had just finished its third season, and a huge fully 3D video game adaption by Titus Software was headed to the N64. On May 31, 1999, Superman fans were elated to bring home the Man of Steel’s biggest adventure in a video game.

I wish I coulda seen their faces.

The game looks so promising on start up with the sleek look of Superman: the Animated Series and a cool creepy voice over from Brainiac, but almost immediately things start to go down hill.

A very short cutscene with some very unimpressive graphics appear, setting up the plot for the game. Lex Luthor has sent Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Professor Hamilton to a “virtual world.” The funny part about this is Lois, Jimmy and Hamilton appear to not really mind being sent to another dimension by Lex Luthor.

And I know graphics in games were at a turning point, and fully 3D environments were still in their infancy, but the graphics are pretty rough. Still, we shouldn’t be so shallow about looks. It’s gameplay that matters in games! You’re Superman! You’re gonna fly around Metropolis and it’s gonna be awesome…right?

Stage One

Okay, so in order to “save our friends” we must “solve Luthor’s maze.” Which really means we have some rings to fly through. Rings to fly through? Sure, okay, a nice little tutorial to get the game’s flying mechanic down. No problem…well…one problem. THE FLYING MECHANIC IS COMPLETELY BROKEN. Getting through these rings in the three minutes we’re allowed is definitely a challenge, but for all the wrong reasons. Superman is a tough character to control. You get to miss three rings before you have to start all over again, and expect to repeat this one quite a few times until you figure out how to fly straight.

As you follow this trail of rings, you’ll get a brief tour of this virtual Metropolis with its pink sky and dull white structures that are supposed to be buildings. Not only have we ventured into a “virtual world” to save our friends, but we’ve ventured into a very poorly designed virtual world. If you look into the distance, you’ll see only pink. That doesn’t mean that there is only pink sky there; it means the game just stops coding the environment at that point. As you fly further, buildings and other structures will suddenly appear and develop (something Titus Software probably should have spent another year doing).

Once you complete the ring maze, you have about 30 seconds to lift and throw two cars nearby, then, guess what, more rings! When you’re through that set, you have a police car that needs to be lifted from one end of the road to the other because for whatever reason they couldn’t drive or push it three feet (truly a job for Superman), then once you’ve placed the police car in the proper area, your next mission is to — wait for it — fly through more rings!

After you defeat this slightly more complicated maze of rings, you’re introduced to an enemy you’ll be encountering for the rest of the game. A bland, shaded fellow with a gun. This guy seriously looks like just a shadow of a man with no specific features whatsoever. You can make short work of four of these goons with a few super fists, then its another set of rings that needs flying through.

Oh, Luthor, you and you’re devious ring plot. After that batch of boring you have a new challenge ahead of you that actually requires one of Superman’s other super powers. Before you are three small tornadoes that you have to blow away using your super breath. But before that, you have to pick up the power-up that allows you to use your icy gust, however, this super simple act can actually be the true test. Since Superman is so difficult to control, flying near the power-up to pick it up is so much more difficult than it should be. To make things worse you only have about 90 seconds to extinguish these harmless twisters, half of which is spent trying to simply get the power-up.

Once you’ve preformed this task, you’re rewarded with more rings to fly through! Horray! Now I think at this point most people would have stopped playing. I can’t blame them. The light at the end of the tunnel, however, is that the next stage is totally ring free, if not absolutely boring and uninteresting.

Stage Two

After our first save point, we see a cut scene begin. The only problem is that it’s about five seconds long and impossible to tell exactly what it is or what’s going on. What it is is an explosive device floating near some kind of equipment.

After that, you’re dropped into some kind of laboratory and left to figure out WTF you’re suppose to do next. You come across a doorway covered in lasers, but you’re given no hint at all on how to get past it, and there is no obvious solution in the room. The secret to getting past these lasers is to simply walk right through them. What would appear to be a puzzle to get through a door that would seemingly cause damage if close contact was made, ends up being either some kind of glitch or confusing design strategy.

Next you follow a string of robots that, if you’re not careful, will blow up right in your face. So either keep your distance or quickly pick them up and throw them away from you. Once you’re in the room with some boxes in the corner, lift one of the boxes to find an access key for a computer. Now if only it would tell you which computer or where. I mean, this room is riddled with large computer consoles. A map or directional key would have been very helpful. The computer you’re looking for is found in the room you originally started in. So you have to go all they way back to that room and all they way back across to the next room.

You’ll fight a few more robots and then Mala, an ex-Phantom zone prisoner that you’ll recognize form the TV show randomly appears. “You’re too late, Superman! You’ll never stop the bombs without the help of the dam workers. And I’ve hidden them in a secret cage deep under water,” says the text box.

Wow, Mala. honestly I have no reason to believe I was supposed to be trying to stop any bombs to begin with, but thank you for telling me what I need to do to stop them, you evil genius, you. The terrible thing about these text boxes, aside from providing hideous dialogue, is that they stay up on screen for ungodly amounts of time with no way to skip them.

Now you’ll run down a long hallway where in the distance you’ll see blue. No, that’s not any water that Mala was referring too. That’s the crappy design work by Titus Software. As you go closer to the blue space, you’re environment will grow around you, and the room will begin to make some sense. This type of design glitch occurs not just all over this level, but all throughout each level for the rest of the game. and if you’re lucky this game will glitch entirely and no surroundings will appear at all, leaving you lost in blue space, and having to reset the entire game.

Head down into the hanger and you’ll see water below that you can dive into, but beware of some giant mutant eels ready to F you up. Soon you’ll be notified that “the side doors have opened” but you probably wont see the side doors because they don’t exist until you fly further into the blue space for them to materialize. Once in this room you’ll have to look for a switch to lower the water level to get to the cage full of dam workers.

Once you find them you have to talk to them. To do this, run up to one of them and clobber them right in the face. Seriously. You have to punch them to get them to speak. It’s hilarious. They’ll tell you something about shutting down some turbines and disarming bombs, and you’re off to your next mission.

You have 10 minuets to navigate back toward another door where a giant tank is waiting for you, and beyond that, Mala. She spews some badly written super villain jargon, then attacks your ass with some robots. Since there is no strategy to this game, just beat her in the face until she disappears, then a new door will open. Be careful here against Mala though; there are no checkpoints so if you die, you start the whole level over again.

With the clock still ticking, you’ll find a power-up for Super Speed. Run down a long hallway into a generator room where your first bomb is waiting to be defused near the top. Use your ice breath to freeze it (because by freezing a bomb it is thereby defused?) then head to the next room and do the same.

Stage Three

More rings! Haha! We’re back in crappy virtual Metropolis to fly through more damn rings! Aren’t you excited? You get about 2 minutes to fly through this fairly complicated set, then you’re tasked with grabbing and throwing three Mine Droppers. Mine Droppers are little robots flying above that are…well…dropping mines!

Next you have 4 minuets to fly through more rings! This is by far the most complicated set yet because these rings are moving. you can afford to miss about 5 rings before you lose, and given how hard it is to fly Superman as it is, you’ll probably fail a lot.

Well I think that’s about all I can handle for this week. Come back next week as we continue the pain, and fly through more rings!

Andrew Hurst
andrewhurst@comicattack.net

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10 Comments


  1. Dakk LastMinuteHero

    OOHHHH MAH GAAAWD!! that was the most hilarious review ever! or first part.. or something.. GAH!

    at any rate, you should write for strategy guides!! itd be the best!!


  2. DecapitatedDan

    Now them’s some graphics!



  3. I remember this game for how bad it was…I actually think calling it “bad” is a compliment lol



  4. Hilarious write-up man! I remember watching the Angry Video Game Nerd just bash this game. Glad to hear you two share the same sentiments!


  5. billy

    What a great article…and bad game. lol



  6. […] Console’s month long celebration of the bastard child of the comics/video games relationship. Last week we looked at a bit of the history behind Titus Software’s most famous game, and played […]



  7. […] following links to read the previous installments The Comic Console’s Superman 64 review: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part […]



  8. […] would think that any Superman game after the infamous Superman 64 would be spectacular in comparison, but somehow Superman Returns is almost just as bad! The game […]



  9. […] even sadder that some of those titles never even made it to the shelf. Hilariously bad games like Superman 64 and Aquaman wasted the time and money of fans all over the world, while promising games like […]



  10. […] DC Comics, Hurst, Reviews, Superman, The Comics Console, Video GamesOh, God…could it be? A Superman 64 sequel? Could the universe possibly punish Superman fans with more rings to fly through? […]



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