NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 06/21/2013
I’ve said this in other reviews, heck I even did one for Superman 64, but Superman 64 is a bad game. It has terrible controls, bad character models and animation, you name it its got it. But the one thing that game let you do was play as Superman. Now sure you did so poorly, but you still got to do things like fly, fight bad guys, shoot laser beams from your eyes and freeze things.
Superman Returns: Fortress of Solitude (FOS from here on out) is a puzzle game, and that is not a typo. The framing device for the game is that you are in the titular fortress playing Kryptonian logic games. The first game is basically Sudoku: you have a series of boxes that you fill in with various shapes. You cannot duplicate the shapes in the box, nor can they appear in the same column and row, any of this sounding familiar?
The second level of the game introduces another type of puzzle game that I couldn’t wrap my head around. It tries to explain within the game the rules, but even after multiple attempts I cannot for the life of me figure out where to put what item. I purchased this game without an instruction manual, and it could be that with that I could figure it out or maybe I’m missing something simple, either way I didn’t pick up a game with SUPERMAN in the title to play a puzzle game!
What makes figuring out the puzzles more annoying is that there is a time limit working against you that depletes faster when you make a mistake. The game has different levels with a designated time limit and each level has multiple sub stages built in that you have to clear within a set time. So for example if you have a level with eight stages and a fifteen minute timer, you have to clear those levels within the fifteen minutes. If you run out of time, you can repeat levels faster to recover more time but you won’t really want to. You’ll just want to turn off the game.
So what does any of this have to do with Superman you say? Well, if you manage to clear certain areas you get to play a bonus round that is a side scrolling flying stage where you collect items and shoot enemies with either your heat vision or freeze breath. You can also use your super powers to help you in the puzzle stages when you get stuck. So essentially a game with SUPERMAN in the title, with the “S” logo clearly on the cover art lets you play as Superman as a bonus for completing puzzles. Oh, and the reward for completing the levels? compressed still pictures from Superman Returns, a DVD which you could have more than likely bought for less than this game.
I would’ve really been in the brainstorming session and approval meeting for this game. Not only is the idea so ridiculous, but the system in which is on was well passed its prime. This game came out in 2006 when the Nintendo DS was out for two years and had gone through one revision. Why does this game exist? Who thought it was a good idea? I mean, today it could maybe exist as an app for $0.99, but this thing is printed on a cartridge that I’m assuming sold for upwards of $40 when it was new. I feel sorry for anyone who purchased this game.