It seems like this blog has unintentionally become more about wrestling than comics. Which is strange because the latter is a hobby I’m closer to than wrestling these days. Still, for those who may not be aware, my favourite superhero of all time is Superman. I love his mythology, the stories, and how his character is undeniably moral perfection (except in cases where they get the character wrong, like Man of Steel).
Years ago, I wrote up what I perceived as my ideal Superman game. After all, there has never really been a great Superman game. Some decent ones, like Shadow of Apokalips, but for the most part, they’ve either been terrible (Superman 64) or forgettable (Superman Returns). Since writing about my ideal Superman game, things have changed in the game industry. The Batman Arkham series came out, which has been arguably some of the best superhero games to date. Fans have been clamouring for a good Superman game since. So, I thought I’d revisit my idea, breaking it down into categories, and see how my ideal Superman game would look now.
The Batman games make you feel like Batman both in the combat and the stealth. Its combat flows from one punch to the next and makes everything you do look absolutely fantastic. The stealth makes you feel like a monster in a horror movie creeping on prey, which is fantastic. There were times when I’d torture a room full of goons with scare tactics before pouncing on them. Batman’s theme isn’t necessarily being a superhero but more of a vigilante, stalking on his prey because – as the famous saying goes – criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot.
Superman’s theme, however, has always been about helping people and doing the right thing. He’s not just some super-powerful dude who punches. He’s there to help humanity on its way, helping where he can because that’s how he uses his powers: responsibly. He’s a character who will go out of his way to avoid collateral damage, moving the fight to a safer place if possible, and rescue people during a crisis in order to reduce casualties.
With that in mind, the theme of the game would be about helping bystanders when possible. However, as I’ll discuss later, the game mechanics for this would reward you. For Superman, it’s a selfless act, but there must be a reward for players other than saving 100 people from falling off a building just for a trophy.
The other theme is that Superman is more than just his powers. His morality, in my opinion, is his best power. So, the story will have Superman de-powered at the start of the game. At first, the player would need to rely on Superman’s original powers when he debuted in 1938: super-leaping, some invulnerability (except against tougher things like explosions or mortars and such), and strength. As the game progresses, you would unlock more of Superman’s classic powers. Again, I’ll go into detail about this further at another point in this series.
(Note: This is still a rough draft idea for a story. It definitely needs to be fleshed out. However, I think it solves some problems that others have had with a Superman game, like being too powerful or working within one city.)
Good morning, Metropolis! It’s another beautiful day in the City of Tomorrow. The birds are singing, the sky is a bright…opaque white? And there’s a slight humming noise along the edges of the city…which are impassable? What’s going on? Superman, help!
The very first mission, the introductory mission before the glass barrier comes down, is a bank robbery. Superman sees a getaway vehicle being chased by the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. He swoops, using all his powers to stop them, including heat vision on the tires. However, after stopping the car, one of the criminals pulls a gun on him. When they shoot him, it doesn’t bounce off like normal. In fact, it hurts! THAT’S when the sky darkens and the dome comes down.
As it turns out, the entire city has been shrunk down and trapped inside of a bottle! Anyone that attempts to look through the glass see darkness, but with outlines of perhaps an alien ship. No one knows how or why, but don’t worry, because Superman is here to save the day!
Except…something’s wrong. He’s not as fast or as strong as he once was. It turns out, the solar cells in his body don’t have access to our sun inside this strange bottle. Professor Hamilton at STAR Labs is working on ways to help him, but right now, there are bigger things to worry about:
Lobo, in a drunken stupor, has moved into Bibbo’s bar. Suicide Slum has been taken over by Intergang. The Toyman is kidnapping children. The Parasite has control of the power station. Livewire has taken over the radio station, creating a panic. Bloodsport is looking for his next victim. Other villains are running amok like Metallo, Firebrand, Chemo, Hellgrammite, etc. Every villain and criminal in the city seems to be taking advantage of the chaos. The Metropolis Special Crimes Unit can only deal with so much.
And what does Lex Luthor have to do with all this? Why does he seem to be supporting the idea of Metropolis’ safety within this glass prison? It’s up to Lois & Clark to find that out, before General Eiling goes through with his plan of attack that could threaten the whole city even worse.
SPOILERS HERE ON:
So it turns out, Luthor tried using old Brainiac technology to create new patents. It backfired horribly, though, re-activating Brainiac’s derelict space ship and shrinking the whole city. Brainiac, in fact, is controlling Luthor, latching onto him like a parasite similar to Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow. In order to stop him, Superman must regain control of the city and his powers. But even if he frees Luthor, how can he trust him?
At first, the story progresses with Lois & Clark investigating the glass barrier itself. We see one attempt by General Eiling and what military he has on hand to blow up part of the glass, but that only sends mysterious robots into the dome that attack. Tensions build and Superman can only contain so much of the growing violence. It seems whenever any incursions against the bottle are met with these strange robots of different shapes and sizes. And they are definitely a match for Superman. Interestingly enough, any time Superman tries to confront Lex directly through his top floor in Lex Tower, the robots ALSO attack him.
Halfway through the game, you’ll free Luthor from Brainiac’s control. Brainiac will then return to his ship, where Metropolis and scores of other shrunken cities are held. He and Luthor must form an uneasy alliance to figure out a way to stop Brainiac and restore Metropolis. Luthor is many things, but he certainly does love Metropolis and will do what he can do to save it.
However, shortly after this, General Eiling tries to send bombers through the top of the glass jar. Superman begs for him to stop but at this point, he still can’t fly fast enough. Not yet. The bombers are shot out of the sky by robotic tentacles that dig into various points in the city. Brainiac decrees that Metropolis is now under martial law, sending hundreds of thousands of robots around the city. Any sign of Superman will be met with force. Thus, a detection system is set up similar to Prototype, where you can change disguises and blend in with the crowd in order to retreat. Even at full power, these robots would give him a run for his money. However, he can infiltrate these tentacle strongholds and destroy them to save the city.
To close out the game, Superman manages to fight his way through the top of the bottle, out into Brainiacs ship. However, he’s still shrunk, like the city, so he must battle giant robots to the controls where he teleports Metropolis back to its proper place and size. Destroying the controls so it can’t happen again, he races back (a timed mission, fighting or avoiding robots) to be teleported back with the city just in time. Blue skies, a bright shining sun, and a celebrating city greet him…until Brainiac’s ship looms overhead.
It lands in Centennial Park and it turns out that the ship itself is Brainiac. It transforms into a gargantuan version of Brainiac, which now must be battled, along with armies of his robots. Superman must defeat Brainiac and rescue the people of Metropolis from the threat.
Next time, I’ll talk about some of the side missions.