When one thinks about good superhero games what comes to mind? Batman Arkham Asylum / City or Spider-man 2 / Web of Shadows for the big consoles. On the other hand what comes to mind for bad or even horrenduous superhero games? Superman 64 or Superman : Man of Steel. That creates a huge problem, that being that other members of the Super family get treated like side-attractions due to Supes own failings in the video gaming world. Well this has got to stop, just because the incopetence of the developers means we can’t get a good Superman game, doesn’t mean we have to accept that reality and not voice our concerns or even throw good ideas at Warner Bros. It worked with the premise of Injustice.
Superman has a really tainted history when it comes to videogames. But let’s all be honest here : Superman, on his own game…WILL ALWAYS HAVE MEDIOCRE APPEAL AND GAMEPLAY! This shouldn’t come as surprising considering what the guy’s adventures are like. His core adventures, not these modern, dark, hasbeen attempts of Superman. The perfect examples would be…I don’t know, I hate what comicbooks have become the past 30 years and I only watched the good cartoons(Timm-Verses and Marvel Saban cartoons etc), so, the perfect example in my head would be Superman The Animated Series.
The intro says it all. These guy’s adventures are about hope, inspiration, dealing with problems in a logical and teacher-like, parental way, with as little violence as possible while having fun though and experiencing a new world. When we see Superman, we don’t see him battle EPIC MONSTERS WITH EXPLOSIONS, while facing his inner demons and strike cool poses at the camera with AWESOME MUSICZ!
Thankfully, we have the Toku / Henshin Heroes and the Kaiju that destroy Japan every other day do that…and later the Marvel Superheroes do it as well, as their standard routine(good for them).
Superman isn’t about any of these, the guy is a just a shy, famr-loving man with a passion for uncovering the truth and the ability to pretend to he is someone who can inspire and be brave and all the excellent things Superman is suppossed to be. His adventures aren’t about how he will deal crime this day and what murders he will avenge, it’s about Clark being brave and putting this amazing front to inspire the people of his city and rescue them from accidents. So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise when the best Superman video games so far are these two :
Rescuing people and occassionally facing a bad guy is Superman’s appeal. And I admit, it’s not a bad idea, when the world is filled with sueprheroes that are fileld with murder, intergalactic bombastic invasions etc, it’s nice to think that there exist games where an invinsible dude flies around happy, having fun adventures and ispires people.
People don’t seem to be able to accept that fact though and want him to be “cool, dark” and crap. That’s how we get trash like the comics of the last 30 years, Man of Steel and crap like that. People don’t realise that the most bombastic adventures of Sueprman come with the Justice League. There is a reason Superman sees the finest action in games like Injustice : Gods Among Us and Justice League Heroes. So, having these games, but aknowledging them or at least telling Warner and DC that “Hey, good work, you made decent to good Superman games, it doesn’t matter if they are objectively mediocre or just good, we have good Superman games” to finally move on.
Which bring me to the next point : people wanting grand adventure, with great gameplay but with a super man or more specifically SUPERMAN, are kinda looking at the wrong place, DC originally created some Super familly characters for these purposes. Guess who they are…
That’s right, those two. And no, I mean the 90s, Kessel-created, teenage with an attitude that could very well be a Marvel superhero at the time, almost invoking their tropes and the original Supergirl, the original Kara Zor-El. Both were suppossed to do things Superman wouldn’t usually do and explore other aspects of what a super being could do. In that aspect, Superboy was about a teen that had super-DNA but not Superman’s power, trying to establish his own legacy and facing enemies that required him to be both intelligent but stylish as well while Kara was to show more zanny adventures with a girly touch but also show a girl that has great interest in science and wants to explore other worlds(seriously, she was written as the genius counterpart to Superman’s honest farmboy). And we know how things turned out…though Supergirl did get her own adventures in the Timm-Verse and people were positive about her.
So…assuming someone gets to make a Super game, but is able not to use Superman, what would be the best way to do it. One would say “Hey, let’s do one with Superboy”…which would sound awesome in theory, but that’s actually what the inFAMOUS games are mostly…kind of…to be blunt, that’s what Second Son is with the multitude of abilities, not because the developers saw Superboy’s abilities and thought they were awesome, but because his abilities are essentially “Power of Imagination with stamina”, so having a guy hurl kinetic blast of air, hover or fly, having an aura around him that makes him invulnerable to most things etc, Tactile Telekinesis as his bio says.
So, the logical thing would be to go with plan B, make a Supergirl game…which in turn would be a good idea, but Supergirl never had an established rogue gallery in the comics and people’s reaction to Supergirl mostly being “Oh,that awful movie with Helen Slater”,makes one stray from that path, especially considering how little adverstising the studios give games featuring games that don’t star Batman in any way.
With all that in mind, what is the best thing to do? Go back to making Superman games and perhaps include these two, if one wants very much, like with Justice League Heroes? WRONG!
That’s so wrong and defeatist in attitude, it almost hurts. You do the next logical step, you put both young superheroes in one game. Now, one would bring up the major differences in powers between the two and that the game is gonna be boring really fast. Actually, with a good story, one can bypass it completely. Especially with great gameplay mechanics. What I’m going to describe below was an original game I tried to design some years ago, the only major difference was that it only focused on Supergirl / Power Girl and felt a bit hollow, but by putting Superboy in the middle, I feel like I found solid ground to stand upon. So check the second part that is…