Codex Gamicus

A number of officially-licensed video games based on the character Superman have been created, the first being released in 1979, over a year after the first Superman film. Due to the success of the movie, there have been many further Superman-based games since.

There is a common feeling among fans that Superman is cursed when it comes to video games, because the vast majority of titles featuring the character generally do not receive good reviews and are often criticized for being mediocre. The most prevalent example of this is the 1999 Nintendo 64 Superman game which is considered to be one of the worst video games ever made.[1]

Superman (1979, Atari 2600)[ | ]

File:Superman Atari 2600 screenshot1a.png

Superman video game for the Atari 2600


Superman is an Atari 2600 game designed by John Dunn and published by Atari, Inc in 1979.[2][3] The game was released after Warren Robinett's Adventure, and used the same system of cutting screen to screen. The player(s) takes control of the Superman, who must repair the bridge destroyed by Lex Luthor, capture Luthor and his criminals underlings, enter a phonebooth to turn back into Clark Kent, then return to the Daily Planet in the shortest amount of time. To slow Superman's progress, Kryptonite has been released by Luthor. If hit by Kryptonite, Superman loses his abilities to capture criminals and fly. To regain them, he must find and kiss Lois Lane.

Only three of Superman's powers are used in this game: strength, X-ray vision, and flight.

Superman: The Game (1985, home computer game)[ | ]

File:Superman First Star Game.png

Superman in the 'Kryptonite' combat zone in the 1985 First Star game. (Atari 800)


Superman: The Game is a home computer game released in 1985 by First Star Software. It was originally for the Commodore 64 but was also ported to the Atari 400/800 and many other systems in Europe.

The game is for 2 players (or 1 vs the computer) and pits Superman against the character Darkseid. The object of the game is to save citizens of Metropolis (playing as Superman) or lure them to your underground lair (playing as Darkseid). The main strategy element is interspersed with a number of 'combat zone' mini-games in a variety of styles.

Superman (1988, NES)[ | ]

Template:Mainarticle In 1988, an NES Superman video game was released. It is a combination of side-scrolling action mixed in with some puzzles.

In it, the player controls Superman to save Metropolis from Lex Luthor and a gang of criminals that were exiled from the planet Krypton. It featured an overhead map of various locations the player can travel to, but then switched to a more traditional side-scrolling adventure game.

Superman has an energy (Super Power) bar and he can collect various icons in the game to use a limited supply of one of his item powers. Players start out the game as Clark Kent but can change into Superman (provided that they have enough Super Power) by entering into one of the phone booths that are scattered throughout the city. However, taking sufficient damage from enemies would cause Superman to become Clark Kent. Occasionally a "Help!" signal would appear on the map, to which Superman could fly to that area immediately and aid the person in need.

At the end of each city level, the player a different boss and gives each end of chapter victory an animated front page of a Daily Planet newspaper displaying their success.

Superman (1988, arcade game)[ | ]


File:Superman taito.png

In the 1988 Taito arcade game, Superman faces a boss during the vertically scrolling part of the first level.

A Superman arcade game was released by Taito Corporation in 1988.

In this game, Superman fights against the evil Emperor Zaas through five levels. The first player takes control of the traditional blue Superman, while the second player takes control of a red Superman with a Captain Marvel-styled white cape.[4] The red Superman's presence is never explained in the game.

The game starts out in Metropolis before going to San Francisco, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. Superman is able to punch, kick and fly. He can also use a projectile "Sonic Blast" attack.

The first four levels have three-parts - a side-scrolling part, followed by a vertically scrolling flying part and a final side-scrolling shooter part. Each part has a boss at the end.

Superman: The Man of Steel (1989, home computer game)[ | ]


In game shot of the opening pseudo-3D flying level of The Man of Steel (Amiga)


Superman: The Man of Steel was developed and published by UK software company Tynesoft under license from First Star Software in 1989. It was released on both 8-bit (including Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum) and 16-bit (including Amiga and Atari ST) home computers.

The game is split into distinct levels including 3D flying, overhead vertical scrolling and side scrolling sections. Sections are linked by comic book graphics telling the story. The eventual aim of the game is to disable Lex Luthor's 'geo-disruptor' satellite which is being protected by Darkseid.

The game received mixed reviews. It was praised for its faithful translation of the comic book style but criticised for frustrating and shallow gameplay.[5][6]

Superman (1992, Mega Drive/Genesis)[ | ]

Template:Mainarticle Sunsoft released a Superman game for Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis system in 1992. It was a traditional side-scrolling arcade game where the player controls Superman through various levels in an effort to defeat various villains, culminating with the evil supervillain Brainiac.

It was planned to release on the SNES, but the game was cancelled some where before it was complete.[citation needed]

The game limited the powers of Superman to jumping, punching and kicking. He could only use his famous superpowers by collecting certain icons scattered throughout the level. At the end of each level, Superman battled one of the super villains from the comics.

While noted for its decent 16-bit graphics and sound, critics panned the game for its limited usage of Superman's powers and for having a limited storyline.

Today, the game has become something of a collector's item, because it is hard to find, and is often not listed among the various Superman video and computer games.

Superman: The Man of Steel (1993, Master System)[ | ]

Superman: The Man of Steel was developed for the Sega Master System by Graftgold and published in Europe only by Virgin Interactive in 1993. It is a 2D scrolling action game.[7]

The Death and Return of Superman (1994)[ | ]


Gameplay in The Death and Return of Superman.


The Death and Return of Superman was released in 1994 by Sunsoft for the SNES and Genesis consoles. It is a beat 'em up video game based on the Death of Superman storyline and features many characters from the comics. All of the five Supermen are playable characters at some point.

The gameplay is the standard "beat 'em up" type, where the player controls a character that can move in all directions. A set number of foes will enter the screen and only after they are defeated can the character continue on the quest. With the exceptions of Superman and to a point the Man of Steel, each character has two standard types of level: melee combat and flying in which only projectile moves can be used.

Superman (1997, Game Boy)[ | ]

Superman on Game Boy was developed by Titus software and released in 1997. It is a scrolling action game.[8]

Superman (1999, N64)[ | ]

Template:Mainarticle Titus software also developed a Superman game for the Nintendo 64, released in 1999.[9]

This title (commonly referred to under the unofficial name of "Superman 64") is a 3D action game in which the player takes control of Superman who must rescue his friends from a virtual-reality replica of Metropolis. Lex Luthor challenges Superman with tests within the virtual world which make up the majority of the gameplay. Most of said tests involve flying through a series of floating rings within a time limit.

The game is notorious among critics and gamers as one of the worst games ever made. Common criticisms include poor collision detection, unreliable controls, high difficulty and generally poor execution.

Superman: Shadow of Apokolips (2002)[ | ]


Superman: Shadow of Apokolips was released for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube consoles. It was developed by Infogrames and published by Atari in conjunction with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics.

The designs were intended to reflect the look and feel of Superman: The Animated Series. Cut scenes used cel-shaded animation to emulate the look of traditional animation. The original Animated Series voice cast all returned to their roles for the game.

The game received mostly positive reviews, with an air of uncertainty going into its release because of Superman 64 of the previous generation.

Superman: The Man of Steel (2002)[ | ]


Superman: The Man of Steel was released exclusively for the Xbox in 2002. It was developed by Circus Freak Studios and published by Atari. It is based on the long-running comic book mythos, as opposed to most other Superman games which are adaptations of the character in other mediums besides the source material.

The game received mixed-to-negative reviews, with many citing a confusing control scheme[10][11] and repetitive mission modes.

Superman: Countdown to Apokolips (2003)[ | ]


Superman: Countdown to Apokolips is a video game that was released in 2003 by Atari for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. It was based largely on Superman: The Animated Series, including its character portrayals, and artistic style. There are bosses such as Livewire, Darkseid, and Bruno Mannheim, as well as goons and other items.

Superman Returns (2006)[ | ]


Superman Returns is a video game loosely based on the Superman movie of the same name, developed by Electronic Arts-Tiburon. In the game, Superman combats Metallo, who does not appear in the movie, as well as other classic villains.

The game features the voice and likeness of many cast members.

Superman Returns: The Videogame was not well received by many critics.[12]

For the Game Boy Advance, a different style of game was released to exploit the license. Superman Returns: Fortress of Solitude combines various puzzle challenges (one of which was Sudoku with superpowers) punctuated with short flying action sequences.

Superman in other video games[ | ]

Justice League Heroes (2006)[ | ]


Justice League Heroes is a console video game for the Xbox, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Portable systems. It is based on DC Comics' premiere superhero team, the Justice League of America.

It is based on the long running comic book series (as opposed to other recent Justice League games which are adaptations of other media besides the source material).

The handheld Nintendo DS version shares a similar visual style and gameplay mechanics to the console game, but serves as a prequel to its story.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008)[ | ]

Template:Mainarticle Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe combined characters from the Mortal Kombat francise with those from the DC Universe, including Superman.

Unreleased Superman games[ | ]

Superman III (Atari 5200, 1983)[ | ]

A game based on the Superman III movie was developed for the Atari 5200 but was never released.[13]

Superman (PlayStation, 2000)[ | ]

A game was planned for the PlayStaion. This was initially intended to be a port of the N64 game, but after that game was such a failure, a totally new game was developed. The game was hit by setbacks and after two years in development, when it was ready for release, Titus software's rights to Superman had expired.[14]

Untitled Superman game (2008)[ | ]

A new Superman game was being created by Factor 5 for PS3 and Xbox360 but the game was cancelled when Brash Entertainment went out of business.[15]

Justice League Heroes United[ | ]

Justice League Heroes United is an arcade scrolling fighter in which Superman, Batman, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern are playable characters. It is currently in development with no set release date.[16]

References[ | ]

  1. In his Review Matt Casamassina concludes: " [... the] game is executed so poorly that it actually serves to butcher the reputation of the prominent action hero.", 1999-06-02. (retrieved 2009-12-23)
  2. Moby Games. "Superman for Atari 2600," (retrieved on March 9th, 2009).
  3. The mobygames date in the reference above is incorrect.
  4. The Killer List of Videogames: Superman. Retrieved on July 19, 2006
  5. "Superman", The One, Issue 6, March 1989
  6. "Superman: The Man of Steel", Zzap!64, Issue 47, March 1989
  9. Moby Games. "Superman for Nintendo 64," (retrieved on March 9th, 2009).
  10. IGN's review
  11. GameSpot's review

External links[ | ]

Template:Superman in popular media

pt:Superman (jogo eletrônico)