The problem with the “Super” games and the solutions to that! Part 02 : The Game itself and its design!

So…continuing from the previous post, we have the idea of a game starring Superboy and Supergirl in an adventure with good gameplay and explanation for it. Let’s go!

So, what about the story? What about the two characters getting together for the adventure? Given that it is not exactly common for these two to be together, I’d say…have them be abducted in an alien planet(if it counts, have them “take a hit” so that innocents don’t get abducted). Also, make it so that the aliens are protected / shield themselves from a yellow sun and have red solar panels for Supergirl to be powerless, for the first quarter of the story, justicifying the “level up / upgrade” mechanism like that. As the story progresses, have the pair interact with each other and feature split paths for more suspence and greater area coverage, especially if we can go with the “Metroid Prime storytelling” but instead of a silent Samus Aran, we have two young people trying to get out a planet. If I’d have the posibillity of having some famous writter hired…I’d go with Bruce Timm, Paul Dini or Duane Capizzi or a combination of them or all of them at best. That would be dreamy for comic book fans and Timm-Verse fans.

Combined effort

As for the gameplay, the best kind of gameplay one could have would be a mix of Macross Ultimate Frontier but with the exploration aspect of Metroid Prime, along with it’s environments, claustrophobic atmosphere and monsters that can kill you at any moment’s notice. For both characters. And throw in the combo system and movelist expansion from Spider-Man : Web of Shadows. By that, you feature both excellently three modes of gameplay that Macross prides itself, the Battroid mode or the simple “Grounded” mode of sorts, the one where you can run and jump and spend the majority of the game, the Gerwalk mode or the “Flying” mode, where it would be akin to the flight controls of most Superman games, one moves as if on the ground but instead “flies that way” before actually flying and being able to completely steer the character and finally, the Valkyrie mode or the “Turbo” mode, which would be akin to Superman Returns’ Superspeed flight mode, where one can go faster than sound etc. and like the mechas in MUF, the character’s flying constantly with similar controls but can “boost”, just without overheating and fight using only super-powers and zero melee. That kind of gameplay also encourages having multiple superpowers with the ability to change them at a moment’s notice during gameplay, without hindering the players and each one having its own “Super Meter” to deplete and replenish. As for the superpowers, the best system for them would be the power-up system of Justice League Heroes combined with that of the Macross Frontier series, featuring several parameters for the superpowers to improve. And of course, by the end of the game and beyond have a “Limiter Release” to be able to fully unlock all the aspects of all the superpowers and just be awesome.

Lastly, we have to talk about the controls of all of the above. During the “Grounded” mode, the controls are such :

Grounded Mode

– The D-pad / Analog Nub is used to move the character, double tap for dashing or superspeed
– The Analog Nub / D-Pad is used to change between Modes(Up being Turbo,Sides being Flying and Down being Grounded)
– X is used for jumping and double jumping
– Square is used for melee attacks
– Triangle is used for secondary attacks
– Circle is used for Super Powers
– R is used for targetting and switching between targets
– L is used for guarding
– L(Held) + X makes the character dash or super jump
– L(Held) + Square makes the character use a powered melee move
– L(Held) + Triangle changes the current Superpower to the next in line
– L(Held) + Circle makes the character use a super-charged version of the current Superpower
– L(Held) + R makes Supergirl stop targetting
– R(Held) makes Superboy start targetting
– X + Circle activate a supporting ability
– Triangle + Circle activate the character’s Ultimate attack

Flying Mode

– The D-pad / Analog Nub is used to move the character and steer the character when flying, double tap for dashing
– The Analog Nub / D-Pad is used to change between Modes(Up being Turbo,Sides being Flying and Down being Grounded)
– X is used for flying
– Square is used for melee attacks
– Triangle is used for secondary attacks
– Circle is used for Super Powers
– R is used for targetting and switching between targets
– R + Up on the D-pad targets the boss character or the strongest and most menacing enemy in the field
– L is used for guarding
– L + double tapping Up / Down is for ascending / descending rapidly
– L(Held) + X makes the character dash or super jump
– L(Held) + Square makes the character use a powered melee move
– L(Held) + Triangle changes the current Superpower to the next in line
– L(Held) + Circle makes the character use a super-charged version of the current Superpower
– L(Held) + R makes Supergirl stop targetting
– R(Held) makes Superboy start targetting
– X + Circle activate a supporting ability
– Triangle + Circle activate the character’s Ultimate attack

Turbo Mode

– The D-pad / Analog Nub is used to steer the character
– The Analog Nub / D-Pad is used to change between Modes(Up being Turbo,Sides being Flying and Down being Grounded)
– X is used for flying faster
– Square is used for braking speed
– Triangle is used for secondary attacks
– Circle is used for Super Powers
– R is used for targetting and switching between targets
– L is used for stopping
– L(Held) + X makes the character boost more than normal
– L(Held) + Triangle changes the current Superpower to the next in line
– L(Held) + Circle makes the character use a super-charged version of the current Superpower
– L(Held) + R makes Supergirl stop targetting
– R(Held) makes Superboy start targetting
– X + Circle activate a supporting ability
– Triangle + Circle activate the character’s Ultimate attack

So, to summarise :

-Have three modes of gameplay for the characters, that can change at a moment’s notice
-Stylish melee combos that progress with Level Ups
-Metroid Prime styled exploration and “levels”
-Justice League styled Super Powers upgrading system
-Intricate parameters for the super powers
-Easy controls that are able to be fully reconfigured
-Limiter Release for the Stats of the characters and Super Powers they have, after the game is finished along with the ability to retract them to minimal levels, like in Macross Frontier


Having condensed the gameplay in its purest form, now we move on to the characters themselves. First the trickiest one, Supergirl.

Supergirl

Supergirl, being essentially a female Superman in terms of gameplay must have a justifiable reason for getting stronger and unlocking powers. The story reason for that as I mentioned, was the red solar panels and absence of yellow sunlight to let her access her powers at first. At first, Supergirl will play like a character in an Amnesia game, avoiding enemies mostly and being the helpless escort of Superboy until the destruction of the first red solar panels and slight opening of the planet’s dome for yellow sunlight to let her recharge a bit. After that, she starts playing closer to a Resident Evil type of character or far better yet, to Samus in Metroid Fusion.

Metroid Fusion

Like Samus, Supergirl must tread carefully to avoid the end bosses that lurk around, hunting her and keeping the players on their toes, as an underpowered Samus or in our case Supergirl is neither equiped nor ready to deal with them, much less successfully evade them most of the time. However, like Samus, the players controlling Supergirl here don’t really feel as threatened as they would if they played say, Outlast but rather they feel like they are a ticking time bomb, strategically evading the last bosses and slowly but effectivelly wilting down the pursuing forces while gaining back their awesome powers for a final showdown. That’s how Supergirl’s part is meant to play out.

Soon...I'll get you!

As for her actual controls and gameplay? Supergirl is able to walk and run with the D-pad / Analog Nub and by running for more than 10 seconds has her run faster as if dashing. Once unlocked she can access her superspeed by double tapping the movement buttons and have her run like Superman in Superman Returns. By pressing the Square button the player can make Supergirl execute melee attacks. As the character levels up more combo will unlocks, but ultimately they are made to be practical, safe, effective and very damaging. By holding the button down, the player can charge the attack up to three levels for more powerful attacks, each one with longer charging times but with growing radius and power each time. The first being a stomp on the ground, the second being a hand clap that produces a shockwave and the third is a twister created by flying around in a wide arc. The triangle button becomes the secondary attack, in Supergirl’s case it is a heavy attack that also acts as a final attack for combo moves, unlocked via level ups and story proggression. The X button allows Supergirl to jump and when flight is unlocked, she can double jump and even glide by holding the X button after the second jump.

Supergirl 1

The circle button is used for the current super power and she has plenty that are unlocked steadilly. First, Heat Vision, a searing beam of heat the acts both as laser shots if the player is tapping quickly the button or as a continuous stream of of rays if the button is held. The super charged version, accessed by pressing L + Circle is a wider, continuous ray for 10 seconds that grants super-amour, making the character unable to flinch but succeptible to twice the damage during that period. The Heat Vision always tracks the target, if the character is locked on to one, otherwise it just shoots at the nearest target and the super charged move is able to move around the spot Supergirl is standing with the movement buttons. Second, Freeze Breath, acting as a slow damaging move and as a stun move, the move is accessed by holding down the button and moving around the spot Supergirl stands. The super charged version is an aera effect version of the move but with longer stun and more damage done, but it takes about 5 seconds to charge it up before it unleashed. During that time period, Supergirl is granted super armour but is again vulnerable to twice the normal damage. Third is the Super Breath, acting as repeller and damage over time move, covering a wider area that Freeze Breath but at the cost of an effect stun. The Super charged version is like the Freeze Breath but instead, a tornado is conjured and the opponents in the area suffer massive damage.

Supergirl burst

The guard is accessed by pressing and holding the L button and while the guard is up, Supergirl takes about a quarter of the normal damage done. The R trigger is used for targetting a single enemy or changing targets. If the player chooses to stop targetting, simply holding down the L trigger and pressing the R trigger. The effect targetting has on Supergirl is that the player is able to see the enemy’s life indicated by the changing colours of the lock-on indicator and have her attacks automatically be directing to the target instead of having the player direct them manually or just have the game target the nearest attacking enemy. Her supporting ability, accessed by pressing X + circle is a Superspeed buff that lasts for 10 seconds and has a cooldown of a minute and drains all of the super meters, buffing her stats and making enemies move in slow motion, while granting Supergirl super armour. Her Ultimate attack, accessed by pressing triangle + circle, is an lenghty combo featuring Supergirl doing some basic combos followed by super charged versions of all her superpowers in super speed ending it with a huge blast of pure energy, an ability she gained in the New52 comics. It drains all of the Super Meters however and requires Supergirl to find sunlight to recover.

While Supergirl’s Super Meter for each super power charges back at a medium pace, her health cannot regenerate unless she finds some sunlight, which will cause her to heal some damage at a fairly decent amount of time while supercharging her Super Meters, enabling each Super Power to be used twiced as much. Supergirl’s Super Senses are used to conjure a map at the bottom of the screen, used to show her location, enemies, treasures and items around the area. The more powers she unlocks throughout the story, the greater the effect of the map and ultimately, she can view the entire map at the pause menu and find even hidden items. While Supergirl’s part primarilly feature her in enclosed environments, due to her having to deal with the gradual opening of the Planetary dome, she will be able to explore the overworld in various ways and cover ground much faster as the game progresses. Finally, her enemies are really tough and menacing but slowly they revert to reasonable baddies while the bosses, while grand and teriffying can be brought down with strategy.

And now, to the other star of the game, Superboy.

Superboy

The 90’s kid is a bit tricky to convert to gameplay when it comes to his powers, playstyle and many other things, esoecially when he has a really dodgy story in the comics and the animated appearances of him have him be the Hulk of the Teen Titans. So…perhaps a compromise is needed for the game, in more things that just his powers. Have Superboy be a teen as he is envisioned to be, let him be 90s Kid, but not as 90s as he was…you know…back in the 90s, so that it won’t seem that weird and have his uniform be an amalgam of his original and current appearance, perhaps throwing in his New 52 armour would be cool. As for his powers, again having a middle ground between his original comics powers of Tactile Telekinesis and his “Hulk” powers from Young Justice. There is a reason for that little change and not having him be either a “Hulk” clone or a Superman “clone” in terms of gameplay.

Superboy Young Justice

Superboy, before his creators left the title envisioned him as a stylish, reckless and hot-headed teen with powers straight out of the Marvel universe of stylish fighting styles and mutant powers…not that his Young Justice self isn’t like that…anyway, he is meant to be stylish but practical character of the two, essentially being Dante from Devil May Cry as far as his mechanics go. Stylish combos and continuous, fast action is what keeps Superboy alive from the enemies that attack him and compared to Supergirls stalking, monstrous bosses, Superboy does a lot of mano-a-mano with equally crazy and flashy humanoid bosses that test the players inginuity and reflexes. While he will unlock perhaps some powers as the story progresses, but mostly his gameplay grows as he grows in levels, unlocking more combos. Due to Superboy being more agile, his overall moveset is designed around the premise of cancelling and on-the-fly combos that take a lot of creativity from the players. As for the visuals employed during his attacks, they only appear as slightly red auras around his Telekinetic attacks as Superboy keeps attacking. As he starts building power for his next Telekinetic attack by keeping a high combo count, the power manifests as a red aura covering his body with tenidrill effects and his eyes glowing red, leaving behind streaks of red light as do his punches and kicks during the aura’s manifestation.

Dante

As for his controls and gameplay? He can walk and run with the D-pad / Analogue Nub and by running for more than 10 seconds or by double tapping a direction on the movement buttons he can run faster as if dashing. The X button is used for jumping and by pressing it twice the players can make the character double jump. By pressing the square button, Superboy employees highly stylistic mixed martial arts moves, usually seen in movies with a lot of flash and has a plethora of various combos that include intervals inbetween inputs, rapid inputs of combos and mixes of the two. The triangle button act as his Kinesis Blasts, essentially being the guns from Devil May Cry 3. By pressing the triangle button, Superboy unleashes a simple wind blast from the palm of his right hand that acts like a shotgun blast upon impact with the target and travels a relatively small distance and it is possible to start firing quick shots with his right hand continuously, if the player starts pressing the button quickly. If the player holds the triangle button, then he will unleash a wind wave from his palms.

The circle button uses his super powers, which include Air Drive, Air Slash, TTK Explosion and TTK Reversal. Air Drive is a long range attack, employed by Superboy swinging his arm and “throwing” blades of rendered air. There can be five of them thrown in succession before depleting the Super Meter. The first shot can also be charged for a larger and stronger shockwave and carry the same effect to the other two that follow. Air Slash is basically stylish chops that are sharper and have extended reach due to the air vacuum that surrounds them. A combo of 5 can be used before the Super Meter is drained or just have the player charge the attack and at the cost of it all, unleash a samurai-styled slash that basically rends and slashes the air in front of Superboy in a wide rage with continuous damage. TTK Explosion is a ricochet shot that does tricks and damages enemies. If charged it becomes area wide move that has Superboy put hos hands on the ground and make it explode underneath a group of enemies. TTK Reversal works as both a Passive and Active Skill. First the player must Parry the enemies attacks to fill the Super Meter slowly. The fuller the meter is, the more powerful the attack that is unleashed will be. The Reversal can only be fired by touching the enemy but depending on how full the meter is, it can spread to nearby enemies as well. If the meter is empty, the player can reverse some long range attacks, such as basic gun attacks.

His supporting ability, accessed by pressing X + circle is a combo buffer that lasts for 10 seconds and has a cooldown of a minute, granting Superboy alloted time between combos and uses “telekinetic tenidrills” to double his hits. His Ultimate attack, accessed by pressing triangle + circle, is a conversion of the area’s air to pure energy and creating a giant ball of energy above him before throwing to the ground, destroying all the enemies in the area. It requires all Super Meters to be full and for Superboy to have full health.

Superboy kinesis

And that’s about it…honestly, the major hidrance, the characterization of the these two is over, the enemies can be thought on the spot, either new, or jsut remakes of older ones, we got plenty of those lying around. So…that’s pretty much it. Having a game like that with these two, letting the players experience two different branches of one story with two slightly different types of gameplay, like good old games along with some good gameplay for a Super game is certainly a great thing, if it can happen.

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