SUPERMAN August 05 2003

All right, I said in the blurb that this was the worst NES game ever. That's not really true. The truth is, the worst games just aren't very interesting to read or write about. It's when badness is combined with familiar ground that things get interesting and people start calling the object in focus 'worst ever.' Like Batman & Robin. True, this movie sucks eggs right out from an ostrich's ass, but there are worse movies out there. Like the Austrian soft-core comedy Wenn Mädchen zum Manöver blasen. The reason why B&R is called the worst movie of all time, is that it's a Batman movie, and Batman is far more interesting than an an obscure Austrian movie about an Italian mailman who gets laid all the time. Not necessarily to this site's readers, but to the general public. Superman is as we all know anything but obscure or Austrian, so when a game starring our favourite Kryptonian is more of a torture device than a real game, I can't help bringing it up.

In the last article I wrote, Rip-Off Ahoy, I mentioned that a virtually immortal character like Swamp Thing makes a crap video game character. This of course also applies to Superman. There are three things that can kill the man of steel: kryptonite, magic and diminishing comic book circulation. A game about a guy in blue underwear killing warlocks sounds a little off, so kryptonite it is. Or not really. I'll try to get back to that.

When the game starts, you're Clark Kent. The crew at Daily Planet, or as this game prefers to call it, Daily Planets, tells you there is something strange is going on in Metro Park. Eactly what is unknown, but it's a job for Superman. In the heat of the moment, Clark completely forgets about his secret identity and jumps thirty feet into the air on his way out, but since Lois Lane is busy in saucy daydreams about Superman and Perry White is busy in saucy daydreams about Elvis, nobody takes notice.

Soon, we are let in on the plot: general Zod is in town and is planning on taking over the world. In case you haven't seen the second Superman movie, general Zod is the guy trapped in a shitty visual effect (okay, so it was state-of-the-art back in the eighties) created by Marlon Brando. After Superman throws a nuclear bomb into space saving the Eiffel Tower, Zod and his two lackeys escape and demand that 'all kneel before Zod.' Then, one of the lackeys hits Superman over the face with a bus, Superman hits the lackey square in the jaw with a city block, and the movie is over. There was something about Gene Hackman in there somewhere too, but Zod steals the show completely. This is where the Superman movies jumped the shark, reaching for Richard Pryor slalom skiing down skyscrapers to keep people interested. But I digress.

To keep your identity a secret, you have to change clothes in phone booths or bathrooms. It took me a while to realize you could use the bathrooms, because the first one I tried didn't work. Clark walked in, and Clark came out. I guess even superheroes hear the call of nature sometimes, which leads us to an interesting dilemma: how does Superman's superfoeces travel down the pipes? I mean, the guy obviously shits bricks. Literally. Are the insides of his toilet covered in kryptonite, loosening the dense molecular structure of anything Kryptonian? And if this is the case, how does he survive cleaning his toilet? My god, what am I saying? Sorry you had to read that.

Once you hit the streets, everyone is out to kill you. If you guys thought you could just walk around like Clark and have everybody ignore you, you are mistaken. Clark Kent, Superman, these guys don't care. You might think this means you can just give a rat's ass about what guise you take, but that's not really the case: if you put on the ol' blue'n'reds, you get to use the INCREDIBLE FANTASTIC OH MY GOD SPECIAL HAPPY MEAL BONUS SUPER POWERS!

X-ray vision lets you see invisible enemies that suddenly attack you out from nowhere.

Super flight lets you fly to one other place on the map. I'll explain later.

Super spin makes Superman stand still while spinning, letting enemies pummel him.

Heat vision sends out a laser with the range and power of an ordinary punch.

Super breath 1 looks like an ice crystal, and does absolutely nothing.

Super breath 2 looks nothing like an ice crystal, but freezes certain enemies.

Super hearing can be found in a separate part of the menu that can't be accessed.

Like I said, super flight lets you fly to one other place on the map. If you don't want to go to that particular area, what can you do? Why, take the subway of course. But this is no ordinary subway. This is the subway for giant freak shadow people! Superman had to pay a full ticket even if he's kid-sized compared to these guys, so he's understandibly pretty pissed.

I guess I should tell you about the enemies. The enemies vary from gangsters to balding guys with beards to invisible Chinese dragons to ghosts to tricyclists to Mongolian midgets. They all want to kill you, and and sometimes they succeed, either by punching your lights out while you're trying to use a superpower or by pushing you into the water. If you've seen the movie, you know that planet Krypton is all crystals and no water, so it kind of makes sense that Superman can't swim. After you've hit them a couple of times (which is easy, as your range is thrice the length of your arm), they fall off the screen and often drop blue, green or red kryptonite. The blue kryptonite is news to me, but I soon found out that this particular kind restores your health. The other kinds hurt you, and if your energy meter drops below a certain point, you are turned into Clark Kent.

After you defeat the chick from Superman II, you go back to the Planet to get a new assignment. And guess what? The stock prizes are dropping! Potential economical crisis? Number juggling? Sound like a job for SUPERMAN! Unfortunately, Mr. White forgot to tell me where the hell the stock market is, and since there aren't any signs in Metropolis, only hundreds of grey buildings, I decided not to play anymore. I figured I wouldn't know how to handle an economical crisis if I was lucky enough to find it, and destroying Japanese computer memory factories to boost the sales of the American competition seemed like overdoing it. Instead, let me tell you about the people of Metropolis.

The people of Metropolis are morons. Butt-ugly transvestite duck mutant morons. And their looks are only surpassed by the stupidity of their comments. Everyone who has played Zelda II knows that it's okay to have a lot of stupid people hanging about saying stuff like "I'm in a hurry!" or "I am error!" as long as there are at least two characters in every village that gives you a hint or an item. No such luck in Metropolis. Below is a collection of comments picked completely at random. Keep in mind that these are not taken from a part of a conversation, they're the first and only things people say to you when you meet them on the street.

Whoa, I made an optical illusion! look at the image above and try to focus on the black dots between the rectangles. Not too long though, you might get dizzy. Wahoo!

As you can see, everyone in Metropolis loves disco, but they don't agree on which type of disco is better. I'm sure this information would come in handy later in the game, but sadly I never got to that particular mission.

And that's about it. If you ever get the chance to play Superman, you shouldn't. Just take it from me.