Superman (Nintendo 64): Hell's Last Gift to 20th Century Gaming

If you like solving meaningless puzzles with arbitrary time limits in graphics hell, Superman is the game for you.

Picture a young Jackson, barely age five, clutching the cool gray remote controller of the Nintendo 64 and forcing his immersion into clunky, pixelated Metropolis. It's not quite working. The sacred tranquility usually found in a video game's balance of the controlled and the unfamiliar isn't there. Instead there is only the laugh, Lex Luthor's damning anthem bearing down on Superman's square shoulders, pushing the Man of Steel down into the murky waters from which there is no escape.

Superman (of the Nintendo 64) is often lauded as one of the worst video games of all time. I could give a more complete testimony, but I never made it through the first level. Granted I was five, not exactly the gaming champion I am today (I don’t want to brag, but it only took me three tries to beat Bowser in my most recent playthrough of Super Mario 64!). With this in mind, I remove the Mario Kart cartridge from its hallowed throne in the Nintendo 64, dust off Superman after years of untouched darkness, and brace myself for battle.

The stupid Titus fox face mocks me as the console chugs to life. It knows what’s coming.

Where is the lie though? (From Luthor has heinously captured my friends and inexplicably places them in a virtual world, challenging me to some sort of maze. This already makes zero sense, but alright. I can fly with that. Except I literally can’t. The controls baffle me. How am I supposed to navigate a string of arbitrarily placed rings if I can’t figure out how to stop tilting around like I’m gagging on my own mediocrity mid-air? It would probably help to read the instructions.

Alright. Now I’m in business. We’ll give the developers the benefit of the doubt and chalk that one up to user error.

Except wait, I still can’t even get through the rings. Why is there a time limit? Why does overcorrecting by the tiniest fraction derail my path to victory? What was the point of this again “maze” again?

From Wikipedia.I give up on the rings. I am Superman. I can probably just punch through digital Luthorcorp until I win the game, right? That’s how I’d design it.

After realizing my ambitions would amount only to an exercise in futility, I took to YouTube to see how the greats overcame this early plague of gaming. Wow, what do you know? More “mazes.” More time limits. I can’t believe what groundbreaking content I’m missing out on.

Sifting about online playthroughs, I’m amazed that a team of intelligent people spent time making this with the intention of providing entertainment. Everything about Superman, from the spasmodic enemies to the looping background music, is mind-numbingly tedious. Somehow I’ll rest easy knowing I’ve only been subjected to one level of this amateur monstrosity. I really don’t need to be haunted by thirteen more stages of swooshing and poorly digitized biceps.


Recent college grad, armed with a backlog of games and too many opinions.

Published Apr. 3rd 2020
  • Dustin Frisch
    Thank goodness so I don't have to play it.

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