Almost all well-known superheroes have been adapted into one video game or another. Nothing fulfills the purpose of a superhero story more than being able to step into that person’s shoes and fight for truth, justice, and…high scores. We are inspired by heroes, we want to emulate them, hence the video game appeal. Of all superheroes, none is more recognizable than Superman. He is the epitome of the perfect superhero. Not only is he invincible but he can fly. Who doesn’t want to fly?! I mean really.
The Superman Problem
This is where we get a problem. Even though Superman is the ultimate superhero and the greatest example of goodness, he is almost too good. He is difficult to relate to. He is difficult to find a suitable adversary for. For the most part, his only opposition has either been people who are just as strong as he is or the infamous Kryptonite, or as I like to call it, the short cut. Superman has worked fine as a comic book, but often bombs as a film, and has yet to become a successful video game (despite several attempts).
What Doesn’t Work as a Man of Steel video Game?
Invulnerability: Obviously the first problem is the fact that Superman is invincible. Having a health bar that slowly depletes itself as you fight just wouldn’t work. Alternatively, having a game where you could not lose would get old pretty fast.
Villains: The majority of Superman’s villains are just as powerful as he is, with the exception of a select few (like Lex Luthor). First of all, this is boring. Second of all, it doesn’t work as a video game because each villain would be considered a “boss” character. There aren’t any villains that could be considered “stock” enemies, like the common thugs in the Batman video games.
Delicate Earthlings: Considering Superman’s strength, in order to realistically portray it, each punch would have a devastating effect on the surroundings. If any mortal characters got hit, well let’s say the results would not be pretty. It would be hard to find the right method for Superman to control his strength in various situations. While this would be easy to explain in a film, it becomes difficult for a video game.
What Does Work as a Man of Steel Video Game?
Superpowers: Something that is always an asset in a video game is variety. One of the best things about the Batman Arkham games is the plethora of ways that you can take out your enemies. Superman has a ton of superpowers, making this one of his biggest assets.
Flight: Everybody has had the flight dream where they are able to sore into the sky, defying gravity. This is the most iconic of Superman’s powers and it would be enormous fun to fly around the city or whatever environment you would have in a game.
Free-roaming: This is an aspect that has become quite popular in the Batman Arkham games, as well as franchises like Assassin’s Creed. Because of Superman’s power of flight, it would be prudent to use the same method in a Superman video game. Imaging flying into the sky, taking a bird’s eye look at the city, then flying anywhere you want. Personally I would eat that up if it was detailed enough.
Ways to Fix the Problems
The short cut: I admit this is the easy way out, but you could have Superman get into some kind of explosion involving Kryptonite. The explosion would embed his skin with small shards of Kryptonite, weakening him. Then as the game would progress, the trace elements of Kryptonite would leave his body. It would be an easy way to do it, but it would allow for progression of Superman’s powers and weaken him enough for others to hurt him.
Red sun: In this case Superman could either end up on a planet with a red sun, or have our sun darkened somehow. That would have the same effect as the Kryptonite. So it’s a bit of a short cut, but it would do the job.
Different planet: If Superman were on a different planet, aliens closer to his level of strength could fight him. While I think this would be kind of cool, it would lack the human element of having a game based on Earth, which is part of what makes Superman our hero.
Protect others: Perhaps Superman could remain invincible, but have to worry about the safety of others. If they die, he fails and the game is over. This is a solid solution, but personally I think I would get annoyed, having to run around protecting people all the time. It would be harder for a free-roaming based game.
There might be other options, but personally I would love to see another Superman video game. Several games have tried, but none have succeeded because of the short comings I’ve already pointed out. If they could do it right, and I’m sure they could, I think it would be a great video game.