Greetings, all! Last week, I replayed a game in memory of Harold Ramis.
Today, I'd like to revisit a masterpiece from the N64 era. One of the greatest, most influential games ever made.
Superman 64 came out for, of course, the N64 in May of 1999, just in time for the summer. It was developed by the greats at Tidus Software, who would go on to create their magnum opus, the 2003 Xbox exclusive Robocop. You play as the titular Man of Steel. In a diabolical plot (easily his most cunning plan ever) Lex Luthor has imprisoned Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Professor Hamilton in a virtual Metropolis. Diving straight into this virtual city, Superman finds himself surrounded by fog-to mask his enemies location, no doubt. Luthor forces Supes to fly through his "ring maze," floating rings that Supes must navigate successfully-or die trying. It turns out to be an amazing story. It's similar to writer Grant Morrison's classic All Star Superman, in that both stories are about Superman.
As the player, you're immediately tasked with flying through the rings. This is where you experience the unparallelled flight engine for the first time. You can literally go anywhere and do anything, exploring the highly detailed Metropolis to your heart's content. There's so much to see and so much to do. You can fly through rings, soar through hoops, and glide through circles.
That's not all. though! You'll have to fight bad guys, too. Superman has a variety of moves at his disposal. He can throw a left hook, a right hook, a different left punch...the combat system is clearly the main inspiration for most games to this day. It's similar to Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham series, in that both fighting systems contain punches.
Other missions revolve around rescuing citizens of the virtual Metropolis. This includes lifting cars and throwing them. You can feel the sense of power here as Superman hurls a car filled with hapless civilians into oblivion, before resuming his grim path through Luthor's impossible maze.
Superman 64 includes Superman's other well-known powers as well. Heat vision comes into play, along with his super speed. Supes can move so fast here (in excess of 12 miles per hour) than he can, in fact, escape the boundaries of his virtual prison. Unfortunately, there is nothing out there but emptiness, which actually fits with the story if you think about it. Luthor has also apparently coated the buildings of his virtual Metropolis with some manner of sticky substance; touching the walls will cause Superman to become stuck and unable to move. Diabolical.
The game perfectly captures the look of the animated series upon which it is based. Particularly Superman, whose character model consists of possibly dozens of polygons. They nailed the "square" look they were going for. Other characters fare just as well, with a surprising variety of enemy designs and fluid animation. The draw distance exceeds several feet, and Metropolis' building models are varied and...uh...tall? It feels like a living, breathing city. The world is similar to Skyrim, in that both games contain wide, empty expanses.
The game sounds great, too. There's an epic score to listen to as you soar effortlessly through fake Metropolis. There's some explosion sounds, and punches, and...well. Just play it through a surround sound system. I think the game says it supports Dolby something-or-other.
Oh, and there's multiplayer, too! You, and up to three like-minded friends can battle each other as Superman, Lex Luthor, Darkseid...as you shoot at each other in spaceship-things. It's very similar to classic games like Forsaken, in that both contain flying spaceship-things.
Replay Superman if you get a chance. You'll find it to be a transformative, introspective experience. It's similar to The Last of Us, in that both games make you think "how could they possibly make something like this?"
Hop over to the comments section! Questions, comments, and future GOTW suggestions are always welcome!
Next week, we get back to business as usual. Pack your twin pistols, doves, and Tequila Slammers.