The Superman Videogame Dilemma

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by soulx, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. soulx

    soulx GBAtemp Legend

    Apr 4, 2009
    It's often said that the hardest character to recreate in a videogame is Superman. Some developers have tried but it's often agreed upon that there has yet to be a single good Superman game. Whether it be the infamous Superman 64 all the way to Superman Returns on the Xbox 360, there has yet to be a game featuring Superman that has garnered anything other than middling critical reception.

    While I don't call myself an expert on game design, it can be said that a good game requires a challenge. Or at least some sort of progression in which the player can feel a sense of accomplishment. Just as a character, Superman doesn't fit with any of this. He's practically invincible. He has x-ray and heat vision. He can fly. He can even travel back in time in some iterations. To translate Superman in a game would be to make a videogame essentially featuring "God".​
    Now, I brought up this topic because of recent rumours concerning a potential upcoming Superman game. The above picture was said to be leaked from an upcoming Superman game from WB Montreal. Of course there has been no official confirmation but there's no denying that it would be interesting to see a Superman game from a team that has worked on the Batman Arkham series.

    But to tackle the issue of making a Superman game, there are several paths that could be taken. The most seemingly obvious path would be to downgrade the character. While this would work in terms of making a game where his powers don't make for impossible game design, it certainly wouldn't be faithful to the character. Fans could argue that a Superman without said powers isn't really 'Superman' at all.​
    Another path that could be taken is to simply adapt the game design around him. An attempt at this was with Superman Returns where instead of the invincible Superman getting a health bar, the health bar was instead given to the city. Not only does this fit with the character in terms of his comic-book derived desire to "save people" but it also makes for a game in which the player is not completely devoid of challenge. Other developers could potentially come up with more innovative or unique ways to adapt the game design around the character.

    While there are a number of different things they could do, another such potential path would be to craft an origin story game for the character. One way to handle it would be to plot Superman's development as a hero (perhaps retconning the narrative to have him realize his powers when he is a little older) over the course of the game. You could have him slowly begin to gain and realize his powers tackling progressively harder villians as the game goes on until the end where he just goes 'bat-shit this is a comic-book character' mode.​
    Batman is a character that has never been realized well in an open 3D world game until Rocksteady came and brought in the Arkham series. But then again, Batman is as the name suggests, a "man". A man that can glide, grapple, fight 50 enemies on his own and drive in a remote-controlled tank car but mortal nonetheless. He's no Superman.

    Is it finally time for another developer to try what Rocksteady did with Batman with Superman? Should Rocksteady or WB Montreal be the ones to do it? Or is Superman a character doomed to videogame mediocrity and low Metacritic scores? Let me know below.​
    Last edited by soulx, Jul 9, 2015
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  2. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Honk!

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    Jul 11, 2009
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    I forgot
    Superman 64 HD Remake pls
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  3. Hyro-Sama

    Hyro-Sama I'm from the fucking future.

    Oct 25, 2009
    After Earth
    I'm kinda surprised there aren't more superhero video games in today's age with the way the genre is dominating the box office. So long as the games themselves are made with the same high standard the Arkham series was, the more the merrier IMO. Bring on Superman.
  4. Guild McCommunist

    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

    May 6, 2009
    United States
    The Danger Zone
    To be fair there's a whole subgenre of open world games where essentially becoming "godlike" is the aspiration. Look at inFamous, Crackdown, even the latest Saints Row games. As the game progresses you become more powerful and near unstoppable. The emphasis of the game is that you're stronger than essentially every enemy you finish.

    Translate that into a Superman game and you most likely have a winning formula.
  5. endoverend

    endoverend AKA zooksman

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    I think that all the things you mentioned make the creation of a good Superman game impossible, or at least very hard. How can you lose when Superman is invincible? Isn't there always going to be an easier way to do everything due to his ridiculous myriad of suspiciously derived powers? And most of all, how do you make the player feel like Superman?

    They could go for the approach of gaining his powers gradually, like you mentioned, in the style of a Metroid game. Maybe a scenario where Superman manages to lose his powers somehow, and needs to gain them back? Metroid has done it all before. :P

    Really, it's just going to take a company like Rocksteady (or maybe even Rocksteady themselves) to find some creative way to capture Superman in a way that can make a good game yet still be faithful to Superman's history.
  6. Flame

    Flame Me > You

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    Jul 15, 2008
    an idea for a superman game is:

    where you start as a teen who is having problems with his powers on some level... as you progress and get older you get more powers and the control off. but as you get older more god-like enemy rise like Zod, Brainiac, Doomsday and even Lex with help with of kryptonite.
    Last edited by Flame, Jul 9, 2015
  7. KingVamp

    KingVamp Great... AETHER!

    Sep 13, 2009
    United States
    I don't think the leak is real, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are actually making one. I think the only way this is going to work is to make a Superman that's powerful, but not OP. Treat his attacks and flying like Batman gadgets. That is, have his powers have cool down periods. Make him weak to energy, magic, psychic attacks and of course kryptonite. Have weapons that interfere or block his powers. Have people or weapons strong enough to hit him near the middle of the game. Superman doesn't have to be invincible, to be powerful.

    Since this is a Superman game, we would have actual have people walking around that need to be saved and have daytime. Lol
    Probably start off with a origins story. If they are making the game, I hope it's serious, but not Batman serious.
    Last edited by KingVamp, Jul 9, 2015
  8. Hells Malice

    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

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    Apr 9, 2009
    I figured we'd see a rise in meh articles popping up since the thread looking for people. Anyway,

    There isn't any real dilemma with superman. Actually he's in a fairly unique and established position to have some different and interesting games if anyone could ever do it properly. I don't agree in the slightest that Superman necessarily needs to grow in power over the course of the game. Perhaps he could, or perhaps they just do what they do in every spiderman game and give Superman a bunch of unlockable outfits that modify how he plays, so players could work towards those instead. But really, we need to get over this obsession with forced character progression and shiny rewards shoved down our throats just to enjoy the game.

    The only dilemma is people suck at making Superman games apparently. The idea of giving Superman objectives to complete, people to rescue, cities to save is exactly what needs to happen. Interesting fights and scenarios that get the player to think about how they could use their arsenal of godly powers to solve it the best they can, with multiple ways to do it, would be incredibly fun. Superman also has that whole kryptonite issue that could be played with more later into the game to spice things up a bit, but I think properly made bosses, encounters and scenarios would make for a fantastic and unique game where you're not worried about yourself, you're worried about the world around you. That and some very well thought out superpowers at your disposal and I think you've got a winner.
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  9. KingVamp

    KingVamp Great... AETHER!

    Sep 13, 2009
    United States
    Kind of weird for Superman to rely on clothes for his powers. Lol If they add clothes, it would be either for looks or for armor. There has to be that kind of build up or he will be too OP at the beginning of the game and it helps to keep the game fresh. Either his powers gets stronger, new powers would unlock, or both is definitely going to happen. I do wonder who's going to be the "Riddler" for such a game.