REVIEW: SUPERMAN RETURNS (NINTENDO DS)

superman returns ds cover

NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM  07/05/2013

After the Superman Sudoku puzzle game they put out on the Game Boy Advance, I didn’t know what to expect from EA’s Superman Returns game on the Nintendo DS. This handheld version is an ambitious action-board game hybrid that has a lot of interesting ideas that didn’t quite the right level of polish to match its ambitious ideas.

So how exactly did EA turn a Superman game into a board game you might ask, well let me explain. The bottom screen of the game is a hex based grid and Superman’s “piece” is represented by his iconic “S” symbol. At the start of the game, every space on the board is gray and you claim parts of the board by moving to disaster spaces or by landing on the spaces where a villain resides. You have fifteen stamina pieces per turn and it costs different amounts to move on certain spaces: one for Superman claimed spots, two for gray spots, and three for villain claimed spots.

When you land on a disaster spot you have to complete a timed mini-game to gain more of the board, and if you fail you’re moved to a random space on the board. Like Superman Returns on Xbox 360, Metropolis has a power meter that depletes after every turn if villains and disaster spaces are left on the board and when the meter reaches zero, the game is over. There are quite a few games to play, though most of them take placed in the same three or four environments recycled over and over again. Objectives range from flying around putting out fires, leveling falling buildings with your super breath, moving civilians out of danger or Star Fox like flying sections where you have to avoid debris and make it to the end before time runs out.

superman returns ds ss1
The mini-games are fun for the most part, but some are unnecessarily difficult due to the games loose controls, strict time limits and vague objectives. Even on easy you can run out of time trying to accomplish some of the harder challenges, such as any that involve using your super hearing to pick up audio ques that boil down to dumb luck or the Bizarro spaces where everything is upside down and inverted. I appreciate the authenticity of the backwards Bizarro world, but not when it comes to the detriment of your game.

Superman Returns on the DS follows somewhat the plot of the film with brief text based cut-scenes. Periodically you’ll also have to do story based missions, like where you have to race to the plane with Lois in it to detach it from the space shuttle which is a mission that oddly enough isn’t in the console game. You’ll also run into Superman foes like Metallo, Parasite, Mongul, Brainaic and Bizarro however each boss fight is a simple mini-game where you have to hit corresponding face button as it falls down screen and none are terribly challenging.

superman returns ds ss2

In each mission level you can collect red, green and blue crystals that you can spend to unlock classic Superman comic covers and the game lets you choose from a variety of costumes right from the start ranging from suits from the films and comics. It’s a shame then that this is a terribly underwhelming game graphically, with bland empty and repeated environments combined with unattractive character models. You can blame the hardware, but even this early in the handhelds life cycle people were playing the likes of New Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. There are two multiplayer modes that unfortunately I couldn’t test due to not having a second copy of the game.
I wouldn’t recommend Superman Returns on the DS as it’s not a good game and rather expensive. If you can get it for the right price though, it is worth checking out as it is a very interesting concept that is bogged down with loose controls, ugly graphics and lack of polish. I’ve played a lot of super hero games and most of the Superman games at this point, and I’ve never come across anything quite like it.
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6 thoughts on “REVIEW: SUPERMAN RETURNS (NINTENDO DS)

  1. Superman SUCKS!
    He’s the most useless & stupid (shit) supervillain created.(This needless loser like him is gonna ended up as a villain)
    Superman is scum, dirty moron & gangster asshole.(His brainless fans, actors, etc are weak-minded, sore losers with low IQ)
    All of his comics, cartoons, movies, dramas, etc are all shit, crap, garbage, rubbish & suck-ass.
    He must be removed from this face of this planet.
    Superman & DC Comics (& their fans, forever) SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS & SUCKS!

    Like

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