Sadly we seem to have reached a point at which we can say the modern version of Superhero cinema is underwhelming. It’s a bit of a bummer for comic lovers everywhere. Even if some of the DC/Warner Bros. films have actually been quite true to the comics, the over-stylized interpretations by Zack Snyder and Co. have led to generic blockbusters, and nothing close to a film franchise that can compete with what’s happening at Marvel.
In a way though this can almost be viewed as a good thing. At least for those of us who would count ourselves as part of nerd culture, there’s a retro quality to comic book superheroes, and the modern takes on Superman have been so overblown it’s almost managed to preserve the character as something wonderful from the past. That is, we don’t have to think of Snyder’s CGI festivals and Henry Cavill’s soulless grimace when we hear the name Superman. Instead, we can think back to the more innocent and lighthearted takes on the character from past eras.
This can be particularly fun for gamers. While there aren’t too many all-time classics in the collection there are actually a lot of fun and interesting Superman games from over the years. These are five that stood out to us.
Superman: Shadow Of Apokolips
We looked at one terrific list of the best DC games ever – most of which fall into the retro category – and only two Superman-specific games made the list. This PS2/GameCube effort placed 8th, and with good reason. Basically, while not a perfect game, it actually provided a decent sense of being able to zoom around Metropolis and use all of the relevant superpowers, and did so with vaguely comic-style graphics that were, in a way, self-aware.
The Death And Return Of Superman
This is the other game that made the aforementioned list of best DC games, and if anything it’s more unique than Shadow Of Apokolips. A 1994 game put out for NES and Genesis, it was a fairly classic beat-em-up for the era, and one that took you through the “Death Of Superman” comic book storyline. The truth is that most any collection of known characters could make up a good beat-em-up game in the early- and mid-‘90s, but this is no exception.
Superman: Countdown To Apokolips
This was actually a game produced for Game Boy Advance, and designed by Atari. Like any self-respecting game from its time, it focused on an animated look, rather than a realistic approach of any kind, and it’s better for it. It’s an action game that pits you (as Superman) against Darkseid and throws in a need to rescue Lois Lane. That’s a pretty pure setup, and the isometric setup of the game gave it an interesting perspective.
Superman The Movie Slot
In a weird way this is actually the most modern and the simplest of these games. Superman The Movie is an online slot arcade, billing itself as a conversion of the greatest superhero flick ever made. That’s debatable, but if you just like a casual, themed game, it does a nice job of capturing the look and feel of Superman: The Movie.
Released in 1987 for NES, this is a classic game in some respects. While basically a side-scroller on the surface, it also involves some problem solving, such that it almost feels like an old Super Mario game of a certain kind. It was also pretty weird in a lot of different ways, including graphics and content decisions – to the point that one review called it one of the weirdest licensed games ever.