REVIEW: SUPERMAN (GAME BOY)

superman gameboy cover

NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 06/20/2013

Titus Software’s Superman 64 is renowned by many as one of the single worst video games to see release, and a black eye to the Man of Steel to boot. What most people don’t realize is that that piece of software was not the only Superman game that Titus released. Back in the Fall of 1997, Titus released Superman for the Game Boy more than a year and a half before Superman 64. Much like its older sibling on the Nintendo 64, Superman Game Boy is best forgotten.

Superman on Game Boy is an unspectacular 2-D side-scroller comprised of ten worlds. You don’t have any access to any of Superman’s powers with the exception of flight which replaces jumping. Most of the games levels are basic scrolling levels where you’ll simply move through the environment attacking enemies until you reach the end goal. Other types of levels have you in a fixed scrolling perspective similar to the flight levels in the Death and Return of Superman, but where that game adopted a new set of controls this game sticks with the layout from the main levels. You hold the A button to keep Superman airborne avoiding enemies and the bottom of the screen because it’s an instant kill should you veer too low. Finally you’ll find yourself underwater in two areas where the controls once again remain the same.

superman gameboy ss1

The goal to every world is to collect enough keys to exit, whether that’s the action stages, the flying stages or the underwater levels. You find keys scattered in the environment or by beating enemies. Once you have enough keys you find the exit and move on. The game only has two bosses, well one actually, the Lexo-Skel 5000 repeated twice in the third as well as final stage.

The game itself is rather short and once you know the trick to every level you can beat the game in under a half an hour, now that being said the game is not easy. You have only six lives, zero continues and your health does not fill up after each stage. The controls and collision detection are also horrid, making it difficult to take out even the simplest of enemies with the one basic attack you have. That and the game has a habit of randomly killing you at certain points for no reason whatsoever. It happened to me a couple of times while I tried to finish this game in different play sessions at different places. The challenge doesn’t stem from a well designed experience, it comes from the fact that the game is fundamentally broken and stacked against your favor.

So what can be said really about Superman on the Game Boy other than it was an early warning sign for things to come from Titus and the license. The controls are bad, the game is short and unfairly challenging with no redeemable qualities. I wouldn’t recommend this even to the hardest of the hardcore Superman fans, and I’m related to one.

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