Superman Review

A great deal of people have a passion for Superman. He’s the American superhero, an orphan from outer space brought to Earth by a rocket ship from his dying planet. He’s faster and stronger than anyone on the planet, so a videogame featuring the last son of Krypton ought to be amazing. Chillingo, no slouch in the iOS arena, has teamed up with Tiger Games to bring the big blue Boy Scout to touchscreens everywhere for truth, justice, and the American way.

Fans and non-fans alike know the powers of Superman. Strength, speed, and flight are the big ones, but there’s also heat vision and ice breath. Everyone knows the basics of the Superman story, as well. Mild-mannered Clark Kent works at the Daily Planet, newspaper of Metropolis. He works alongside the feisty Lois Lane and the spunky Jimmy Olson. You will see all of this in the game, along with arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, but that’s about as far as it goes.

In the game, Lex Luthor prepares a weather satellite that’s ostensibly designed to protect Metropolis from floods, blizzards, high winds, and any other form of volatile weather. Of course, Superman knows better than to trust Luthor. The game is broken up into stages; as you progress, the true story of the weather satellite is revealed.

Faster than a speeding bullet.

The game features comic book-style cut scenes, but the art looks like it was taken from a coloring book. With a pantheon of artists who have done amazing work on the DC Comics legend, it’s hard to understand why the developers wouldn’t have tapped one of them for help. You’ll be shocked to see how childish the characters look, like something out of a low-budget cartoon.

The gameplay is a disappointment, too. Each stage is relatively the same. As Superman, you fly around the same section of Metropolis, averting disasters and beating bad guys. Different events will occur, like car chases or building fires, and you must fly to stop them. Superman cannot die, so your goal is to protect the city in as little time as possible. You earn points for your heroism and, depending on how many points you earn, may get you a bronze, silver, or gold medal.

Some events, like blowing out fires, become tedious after a while. Others, like stopping cars rigged with explosives and flying them into space, are more entertaining. While some stages showcase new disasters, like giant mechs that threaten the city, others will repeat older disasters.

More powerful than a locomotive.

The controls are simple. A D-pad in the left corner moves Superman, and to fly you simply press up. You have a general action button, which does everything from punching to heat vision. You also have a speed button that increases Superman’s rate of travel. Arrows will hover around Superman’s head, indicating in which directions disasters are occurring. In fact, it’s very similar to an earlier Chillingo game called The Hero. However, most people will find The Hero’s striking colors, graphics, and sense of humor far superior to Superman.

Perhaps one of the most annoying and disappointing aspect of the game is the soundtrack. Apparently, they couldn’t license the famous score from the films, so instead you are treated to a facsimile, which is nowhere near as powerful. The game is also not very accommodating if you try to listen to music or podcasts on your device as you play, so you are usually left listening to the game.

It’s sad to see Superman face another middling adaptation, when he’s already got several bad films and a decade-old video game called Superman 64 that is often featured at the top of ‘Worst Game Ever’ lists. Don’t get us wrong, Superman for iOS isn’t unplayable, but when compared to the legacy of Man of Steel and the love so many people have for him, it’s a little painful to see a mediocre game with his emblem on it.

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