From the late 1980s to the present, the super-hero genre has been a constant of the video game industry. For years games based on Batman, The X-Men, The Punisher, The Fantastic Four, Spawn and other spandex-clad vigilantes have been jockeying for shelf space alongside such purely original creations as The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil, and Grand Theft Auto. Recent titles, such as Spider-Man 3 for the PlayStation 3 and Superman Returns: The Video Game for the Xbox 360, are unbelievably realistic, giving gamers the uncanny sensation of assuming the roles of their favorite comic book heroes. The gorgeous graphics, stereo quality sounds, and intricate gameplay of these and other modern video games are truly startling for those of us who remember an era when the industry was in its Golden Age and comparatively primitive efforts such as Space Invaders (1978) and Asteroids (1979) were considered modern marvels of the digital age. It was around this time that the marriage of comic books and super-heroes was born.

Most everyone knows that Superman was the very first honest-to-goodness superhero, making his official debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938. Less well known is the fact that he was the first super-hero to appear in a video game. Produced by Atari for release in 1979, Superman for the Atari 2600 (then known as the Atari Video Computer System) puts players in control of a blocky though colorfully recognizable rendition of the title character, who comes equipped with three of his vaunted superpowers: super-strength, flying ability, and x-ray vision. The Man of Steel must repair the Metropolis Memorial Bridge and take Lex Luthor and his five henchmen to jail. Kryptonite is present and will rob Superman of his powers if touched, but they can be restored by a kiss from Lois Lane. With its multiple screens, varied objectives, detailed backgrounds (featuring the Metropolis skyline), and challenging gameplay, Superman is a fondly remembered classic.

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Brett Weiss (35 Posts)

A full-time freelance writer, Brett Weiss is the author of the Classic Home Video Games series, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987, Encyclopedia of KISS, and various other books, including the forthcoming The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M). He’s had articles published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Video Game Trader, Video Game Collector, Filmfax, Fangoria, and AntiqueWeek, among others.  Check him out at www.brettweisswords.com