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February 25, 2010

The Comics Console: Superman 64 pt 4

Superman 64 will never die. It’s epic failure will remain like an ex-girlfriend’s name tattooed on the ass of nerd culture. It will be forever reviled, but most of all remembered. Jagged Alliance 2, Age of Kings, Tribes and Nocturne: some of the best video games to come out in 1999, and nearly no one remembers them. But Superman 64? Forever immortalized. And so it should be. If nothing else, Superman 64 has served as the prime example of what a video game should NOT be.

This week is the final chapter in our celebration of man’s most glorious abominations. So pour yourself a shot, and down a few extra subscription pills if you have them. This one’s gonna be rough.

Stage 10

We’re dropped into S.T.A.R. Labs where a familiar Superman foe, Parasite, maniacally stands motionless as he guarantees we’ll never find professor Hamilton before a water tank fills with water.

Okay, well, there wasn’t much of a cut scene here to tell us what exactly is happening, so I’m just going to assume that our friend professor Hamilton is trapped in some kind of water tank that we have to save him from. Again, that’s just a guess. Superman 64 does a great job of never explaining a single thing, and we’ve seen before that in this game even logic cannot be trusted, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I were completely wrong.

Anyway, we have about three minuets to find Hamilton. We run forward into an elevator in the next room to a lower room, then run forward down another level to find Hamilton in some kind of cell behind laser bars. “Run into the next room and punch in the computer code,” Hamilton says. “It’s the only way to stop the water…I’ll wait here.”

I nearly busted a gut on that last line. “I’ll wait here.” Yeah, Hamilton, I bet you will. You’re trapped in a room behind lasers. Where else are you gonna go?

At this point the three minutes you started out with are still counting down, and you’ll look around the area in search of the “next room” that holds the computers you’re suppose to punch the codes into. A perfect example of how well this game doesn’t explain anything. The “next room” Hamilton is referring to is the room you started out in with Parasite. So back track up a level and to the elevator where Parasite gets all hot and bothered when he sees you, and starts making nasty threats about how “you’ll never get past him.”

Near the wall are three computers for you to punch in the codes. The silly thing about this is that Hamilton never told us what the codes were, or how to get them, but they are apparently completely unnecessary because you can just walk up to each computer and punch it and the code is somehow now activated. Maybe the codes we were supposed to punch in were Superman’s knuckles.

While you’re punching computers, Parasite is on the attack, swinging wildly at you and completely missing. After you hit all the computers, Parasite will stop his attack and inform you that you’ll never defeat him without Hamilton’s help. Then he stands there like a zombie again.

This game has the best bosses ever. Not only will they tell you how to defeat them, but they’ll actually wait for you to gather the means to defeat them. So Parasite will actually wait for you to go back down the elevator to consult Hamilton who tells you to lure Parasite into that room and trap him there. This is where I ran into trouble, and nearly threw my N64 against the wall; I realized Parasite is a much more evil genius than I gave him credit for.

Apparently professor Hamilton is a complete moron and doesn’t know what hell he’s talking about, because you ARE NOT supposed to lure Parasite into that room! I believe Parasite knew that I would be gullible enough to listen to that moron Hamilton who would give me false instructions and send me on a wild goose chase, thus taking away 45 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

A screen shot of Bizarro who never appeared in this game

What you’re supposed to do is lure Parasite into a weird force field near the room you started out in. Once he follows you in the room, you make your exit, and Parasite is trapped. Clever stuff.

After you’ve done this, you’ll have no choice but to go all the way back down to Hamilton to ask him what to do next. Assuming he knows what he’s talking about this time, he tells you about a computer on the upper level that will set him free. So now you go all the way back up near the room you started in and you’ll find a hallway leading to a room with a giant green computer. Smash it, and Hamilton will be free.

Stage 11

I had some trouble with stage 11 because I think my mind was starting to block these levels out, similar to how a child represses memories of some kind of violent or sexual abuse from clowns. From what I can recall, there were about three sets of rings, each around five minutes in length. A car needed to be moved from point A to point B which was only about five feet in distance. And something like six shadowy enemies were destroyed.

It’s all a little fuzzy, and I think I might cry if I keep thinking about it, so please, lets just move on.

Stage 12

A useless cut-scene shows us a weird room with lightning and swirling vortexes, then we find ourselves in a maze of subway tracks. Fly deep into the corridors, avoiding subway cars as they run by you, and passing shadowy goons until you find a small room with a red laser on the floor. Move the box near the laser in front of it to unlock the hidden door in the wall.

Go through this door and into more subway tunnels until you get to the subway station. Near the roof is an opening with daylight shining through. Fly up through that hole, and the games is over, you win.

…wait, WHAT?!

You mean all I had to do in the last level was fly through some subway tunnels and through the roof? What about Brainiac or Lex Luthor? Shouldn’t there be some kind of epic boss fight? Some kind of satisfying resolution for Lex Luthor sending my friends into a weird, poorly designed virtual reality?

There is a final cut-scene with Jimmy, Lois and Hamilton standing near the device that sent them to the bad virtual reality similar to the opening cut-scene of the game, but now Clark Kent has joined them. A text box appears that says “Well done. You’ve managed to get your friends out of that nightmare…” Then the camera pans over and shows Lex Luthor and another text box appears that reads “…But in the real world, Lex Luthor is still there.”

…Please tell me you’re as lost as I am.

I can’t say I’m surprised. I would have been fooling myself to believe there would be an ending that made any sense. Another great tid-bit about this game is that in the instruction manual you’re told there are 14 levels, but by our count we only hit 12. I’ve been counting the stages from save point to save point which are located at the end of each stage, so I’m not sure how Titus Software was keeping track of them.

No, Luthor…I don't want to play anymore.

So what’s the bottom line? Superman 64 has been widely considered one of the worst video games of all time, and for very good reason. The story makes no sense, the gameplay is broken and uninteresting, the all around design and development is shoddy and it’s repetitive and boring.

But even though Superman 64 was an absolute nightmare to play through, it certainly provided for some amazingly bad and unintentionally hilarious moments, and for that, I can’t hate this game. Superman 64 scores a 1/5.

Since Superman 64, the Man of Steel has had three of his own video games, and appeared in several others. Unfortunately, the Last Son of Krypton’s solo video game adventures have never been as good as his days on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo; but with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment getting serious about it’s comic book properties, maybe we’ll get a Batman: Arkham Asylum quality video game featuring Big Blue.

Until then, I’ll just stick to The Death and Return of Superman on my Genesis.

Click on any of the following links to read the previous installments The Comic Console’s Superman 64 review: Part 1 — Part 2 — Part 3

Checkout The Comics Console next week when we review Aliens vs. Predator!

Andrew Hurst



  1. “A screen shot of Bizarro who never appeared in this game.”

    That’s fucking hilarious.

    Like this entire write-up.

  2. billy

    “No Luthor, I don’t want to play anymore”. lol

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Muldercomic: RT @ComicAttack: The Comics Console: Superman 64 part 4 http://tinyurl.com/ye8y2g3 #comics #videogames #Superman64…

  4. Why was this game even allowed out into the public?

  5. Dakk Lv 50 Procrastinator

    god. just brilliant. some of the funniest stuff ive read.
    jolly good work there, mate!
    Stage 11 was my favorite section.
    my favorite line?
    “Maybe the codes we were supposed to enter were Superman’s knuckles”

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