Superman (NES)

Superman Box Art


System: NES

Release Date: December 1988

Developer: Kemco

Publisher: Kemco*Seika

Genre: Action

The Man of Steel makes the jump to 8-bit land in Superman. This is another one of those games that I played a lot as a kid and never really finished it because I never really knew what I was supposed to be doing. I’m better at paying attention and reading these days, and finally got through what I am guessing is Superman’s best console game.

You start out as Clark Kent inside the Daily Planet. You can talk to your coworkers and they give you an idea of where you should be investigating. Clark is a reporter, after all, and the editor demands more copy! So, you run out of the building and are immediately shot at. You’ll probably taste a lot of lead as this game goes on, as unlike we’ve had beaten into our brain for years, Superman is NOT faster than a speeding bullet. Clark is the weaker alter ego in this game, but with the assistance of a phone booth or strategically placed bathroom, he can transform into Superman! Look, he even regrows hair as he changes his outfit.

Superman runs faster, jumps higher, and hits harder than when he wears glasses. He even gets to use a small catalog of powers. Some enemies are invisible and can be revealed with X-Ray Vision. Outside, Superman can fly to different areas and up on rooftops with Super Flight. He can dig into the underground with Super Spin. He can injure enemies with Heat Vision. Put out fires with Super Breath I. And freeze enemies in place to take a beating with Super Breath II. These powers have meters and as you use them, they empty. You then have to replenish them by killing enemies and collecting the matching icons.

You also lose Super Power as you’re hit. This can be replenished with blue power crystals. Be careful to avoid the Red and Green ones, as they are Kryptonite and will diminish you. If you run too low, Superman transforms into Clark Kent and can’t use his powers. Every enemy Clark kills will release either power crystals or Kryptonite, which I don’t think I realized as a kid… There are six levels to complete and you power up between them. After you defeat the bosses, you are treated to a headline of your exploits and an idea of what’s happening next.

Graphics: 2.5

Chibi Superman is kind of silly, but it works here, so I’m not complaining. I like the graphics running around town with the buildings, too.

Sound: 3.0

The music is actually low-key good and the sound effects don’t become too annoying, either.

Gameplay: 2.0

If there’s a weak point, it’s the controls, which are constantly getting in your way as you try to avoid enemy attacks and line up your own. A good chunk of Metropolis isn’t important to the story, either, which kind of sucks.

Difficulty: 2.5

You’re going to do a lot of wandering as you try to find precisely what you need to do. I’m looking at level four in particular. The game isn’t particularly hard and you can get passwords to come back later.

Fun Factor: 2.0

It’s not the most fun game I’ve played this month, but it’s not the worst, either.

Overall Grade: 2.4

Superman earns a C+. I always had mixed feelings about this one as a kid, but looking at it objectively, it could be a lot worse. If you’re curious, give it a shot, but don’t feel forced to reach the end.

Superman (NES) Video Review on YouTube