Video Game / Superman 64

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Superman64box_2446.jpg
Enjoy this N64 Superman box art. It's far more entertaining than the game.
In short time your fate will be sealed, Superman.

There's no time to waste! Describe this atrocity of a game here.

Superman (or The New Superman Aventures [sic]), unofficially referred to as Superman 64, is a video game based on Superman: The Animated Series and released by Titus Software on May 31, 1999 on the Nintendo 64. It is notorious for the negative reception it received from critics and is considered one of the worst games of all time.

Lex Luthor creates a virtual version of Metropolis and then succeeds in trapping Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Professor Emil Hamilton within it. Superman is forced to enter Luthor's virtual world and SOLVE HIS MAZE. Other villains in the game include Parasite and Brainiac.

The player assumes the role of Superman and is challenged to complete puzzle obstacles throughout the game; usually levels contain similar challenges. In many levels, Superman flies through a series of rings within a time limit (unless the player chooses to play the game on an easy difficulty; the rings then disappear but the timer remains the same). The "virtual Metropolis" is filled with what the developers called "Kryptonite fog" (which was actually the game's inability to render anything more than 10 feet away without being choppier than it already is), supposedly there to slow him down. Other levels feature Superman moving through buildings fighting various enemies and going out of his way to protect the virtual world's inhabitants. Oh, and every ring-based level is a Timed Mission and at least one puzzle in every single level is timed too.


This game exhibits examples of:

  • Adaptational Wimp: Darkseid, of all characters, is given this treatment. He's working for (not "with", for) Lex Luthor, gets beaten by Superman with astonishing ease, and ends up being locked in a prison meant for ordinary humans.
  • A Winner Is You: After hours of ring stages and other nonsense, you're treated to an incessantly zooming and un-zooming shot of Superman and his friends standing outside the portal (in a manner suspiciously similar to the intro scene) and the text "Well done, you managed to get your friends out of this nightmare... But in the real world, Lex is still there."
  • All There in the Manual: After a fashion. By default, your only hint of a storyline is the single intro screen you see when you start up the game. However, there's a menu option in the pause screen that gives you an extra paragraph of text, and the game came bundled with a comic book that explained the game's backstory in much more detail.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The ring levels allow you to miss a few of the rings (equal to the number of rings that are gold). Also, if you fail a challenge after a ring level, you normally have to play the ring level again, but if you've already cleared the ring level 3 times, you can keep retrying the challenge indefinitely.
  • Big Bad: Lex Luthor, who somehow manages to make Darkseid a subordinate.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Some of the text seems to suffer from this, creating obtuse-sounding lines like "It was cold but thank you, Superman!" and "In the real world, Lex is still there."
  • Charm Person: The "reprogrammation" (which is French for "reprogramming") ability. This takes a problematic turn, since you're ultimately required to kill every enemy to advance, including the one you just converted.
    "We're on the same side now!"
  • Checkpoint Starvation: the maze levels have no checkpoints whatsoever; die at any point in a maze level and you must start over.
  • Cowardly Boss:
    • Brainiac in stage 4, Metallo in Stage 6.
    • Superman villains Jax-Ur and Bizarro appear in the game's tie-in comic and are implied to be involved in Lex Luthor's plan. Neither villain appears in the actual game, though a photo has surfaced of Bizarro in level 8, presumably originating from the game's development.
  • Damsel in Distress: Lois Lane is trapped in the virtual reality Metropolis Luthor has created.
  • Distressed Dude: Luthor traps Jimmy Olsen and Professor Hamilton in the virtual Metropolis.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The game cuts off several levels early on the Easy and Medium difficulties. The Brainiac's Starship level and the true ending are only available if you beat the game on the hardest difficulty.
  • Fake Difficulty: By the truckloads! Between bad controls and short draw distance, this game is hard for all the wrong reasons.
    • Special mention goes to level 6, where you must escort Lois from the end of the stage to the start. If you get too far away from Lois (i.e., she exits the game's hideously short draw distance) a new enemy spawns next to her and you have 15 seconds to go back to her.
  • Fission Mailed: It's possible to make it so that Lex Wins, and then proceed into the next part of the stage. One example shown here has Superman intentionally fail by hitting a woman with a box, but she still walks to the finish if you wait a few minutes.
  • Floorboard Failure: Happens unintentionally sometimes, when Superman suddenly drops through the floor onto the base of the level. And when it does, you have to start the level over, since there's no way to get back up to the "floor"
    • It's also extremely easy to fly through walls outside the borders of the level and have the same problem- though it sometimes is possible to fly back through a wall.
  • Flying Brick: Superman, and he sure controls like one too.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • The game is notorious for its unbelievable abuse of Pass Through the Rings, but that only covers the odd number levels, or "Ride Stages." What follows afterwards is a set of ridiculously cramped buildings with simply painful fighting mechanics and moon-logic poorly-explained objectives.
    • Think the ring stages are bad now? Wait until you get to the ten minute long one. The most of the ten minutes are necessary long one.
    • Then there are ring stages where you fly around and literally loop back to where you started from. No, you can't just fly into the last ring either, you have to do it the old fashioned way.
    • Starting in the second ride stage, the rings actually start moving. And they eventually move in rapid but small circles, making it even harder to fly through them.
    • Playing through the entire game, only for the game to cut off and force you to start over from the first level on a harder difficulty if you want to see the ending.
    • The game is riddled with bugs, but the final level contains a puzzle that is so badly glitched you'll frequently just drop dead for no reason.
  • Funny Background Event: Done unintentionally. Cutscenes use the game's engine. As Superman flies out a window into the city and the screen fades to black, you can see him crash into the textured wall that depicts the skyline.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In level 6 you must escort Lois to the start of the stage, where she will be ambushed by Metallo. Leave Lois to fight Metallo and—as usual—a Dark Shadow will spawn next to Lois. Normally the level ends when you kill Metallo. If you kill Metallo and a Dark Shadow is still around, the game glitches and the level doesn't end, forcing the player to restart.
    • The final level has a time-machine puzzle where Superman must travel through portals to adjust a number to the value 2000. This puzzle is heavily glitched and the player will drop dead at complete random. This glitch does not render completion impossible, but it does severely complicate completing the level.
    • Flying around Mala too much in her boss fight will either result in her falling through the floor or, possibly, the game removing her, leaving the second level impossible to complete.
  • Harmless Freezing: Happens to Jimmy, though with the... minimalistic graphics it's a little hard to tell it's ice, until Jimmy mentions being cold.
  • Kaizo Trap:
    • Under certain circumstances, you can still be killed in the "Superman Wins" end-of-level screen.
    • You can also die in the cutscenes. If you're in a room with Kryptonite, your health will keep draining. And draining. Until Lex wins.
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: The game has "Kryptonite fog" in every level, diminishing Superman's powers. Of course, it's just an in-game explanation for the severe distance fog that was supposed to mask the Nintendo 64's poor draw distance.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: There was a "Collector's Edition" of the game that came with a tie-in comic.
  • Made of Explodium: Pretty much everything in the game. Including innocent boxes!
  • Moral Dissonance: Due to a programming bug, you can fly away from at least one mission involving saving people, and you'll win.
  • Nintendo Hard: Not much of a surprise given how sloppy the game is...
  • Number of the Beast: The total number of rings in Ride Stage 2 is 616. But this is likely a coincidence.
  • Obvious Beta:
    • There are so many glitches in this game that, despite its notoriety, no comprehensive list of them even exists.
    • Sadly, there's footage on YouTube of an actual beta of the game. And it's arguably better than the release product. The producer of Superman 64 primarily blamed it on the licensers digging their hands messily in the development of the game, and that apparently a massive amount of the code and assets had to be redone mere months, if not weeks, before release. With the ROM of the beta now available, the general consensus is that while the controls are only slightly better, the lack of rings and reduced occurrence of flight stopping glitches make the beta far more playable than the final product.
  • Pass Through the Rings: The "Ride Stage" odd number levels of the game. Believe it or not, these are the tolerable parts of the game.
  • Sequence Breaking: Thanks to the glitches in the game, some stages are possible to beat very quickly by skipping most of the levels.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: You defeated Lex in the virtual world... but the real Lex is still out there.
  • Skippable Boss: It is possible to clear the LexCorp stage by ignoring Brainiac and going straight to reading all the notes on Luthor's desk.
  • The Smurfette Principle: ProtonJon suggests this is why Mala is included.
  • Super Title 64 Advance:
    • Despite the game being simply called Superman (or The New Superman Adventures Aventures [sic]), it quickly became known as Superman 64 to distinguish it from other Superman games.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: When in LexCorp, you can find a health icon just before you fight Brainiac. This can be completely meaningless, as you can skip Brainiac entirely by ignoring him.
  • Textless Video Game Cover: The North American front cover art simply displays Clark Kent ripping open his shirt to reveal his Superman suit underneath, with the title nowhere to be seen. The PAL version added the title.
  • Timed Mission:
    • The ride stages are notorious, as are the mini-games between ring tunnels. The first mini-mission has a tight timelimit, which is barely enough time to react. There is also a timed mission where no timer is displayed, where you have to use super breath on three tornadoes.
    • Every single Maze level has a timed section as well; usually a timed puzzle on top of that.
  • Tyop on the Cover: The New Superman Aventures [sic]
  • Useless Item: In stage 6 it is possible to find an X-Ray vision power-up (the game only allows you to use Superman's powers after finding power-ups); as far as players can tell, using X-Ray vision does absolutely nothing.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Exploiting a certain glitch allows you to punch Mala. Endlessly.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • One level requires Superman to prevent two cars from crashing into each other. One way that counts as success is to simply destroy both cars (they can't crash into each other if they can't move).
    • There's a level where you have to protect Lois from enemies as she marches out of the building. What you're supposed to do is freeze her with your super breath and encase her in ice that's a foot thick so the enemies shooting her don't hurt her. Scouting ahead and killing the enemies before she gets to them? No; the game screws you if you do that!
  • Voodoo Shark: The tie-in comic book explains that the reason Lex Luthor somehow has Darkseid under his control is because Brainiac, who helped Lex create the virtual world, managed to overpower and capture Darkseid thanks to his "technological superiority." The comic does not, however, explain why Brainiac doesn't just beat Superman himself if he is perfectly capable of taking on someone who's stronger than Superman.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Even if you beat Lex, he's still in the real world. LEX WINS.
  • You Make Me Sic:
    • "Can't you spell Lex Luthor?" Okay, now you're just trolling us, game.
    • The title itself. Aventures is French for Adventures. Titus Software is based in France.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The final boss of the game, Brainiac, has no AI. He will fire a beam at you if you attack him with heat vision, but otherwise he stands still and allows you to kill him.



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