is one of, if not the most iconic superhero ever made. Debuting in Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman has been a symbol of truth, justice and the American way ever since, and he has become the face of the comic book medium. When it comes to movies, Superman's outings have been a bit of a mixed bag, with some beloved Richard Donner-helmed films
and some pretty disappointing current day offerings, but each one has raked in some profits.
Despite the Man of Steel's popularity, his video game adaptations have all been mediocre at best, and absolutely unplayable at worst. Where Batman, Spider-Man, and younger heroes like the X-Men have all had some pretty great video game tie-ins, the original superhero is still without a video game adaptation worth playing, though that's not to say there aren't a few diamonds in the rough.
- Superman: Shadow of Apokolips (2002): The first Superman title on this list to be based on the Animated Series, Superman: Shadow of Apokolips is one of the better Superman video game offerings. Releasing on the PlayStation 2 and GameCube, Shadow of Apokolips had some pretty great cel-shaded graphics and had the original cast of the Animated Series reprising their role, making the game feel like an authentic continuation. Though it's still far from a great game, with some unresponsive movement and flight controls, Shadow of Apokolips gives players just about everything they could hope for in a Superman game, including all of his usual abilities.
- Superman Returns (2006): The most recent video game based solely on the Man of Steel, Superman Returns released in 2006 for the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and DS. Superman Returns is not a good game, but compared to other games on this list, it's easily one of the best. Here, players can fly across a fairly large (albeit empty) Metropolis, fending off hordes of Lex Luthor's robots. Though it wasn't executed well, Superman Returns has some pretty great ideas, such as needing to fly into the atmosphere to absorb the sun's rays at a faster rate and charge the stamina meter quickly. Another neat idea is that the player is invincible and cannot die. Instead, mission failure is determined by a health bar for the city itself. It didn't quite come together, but Superman Returns is the best Superman game available right now.
- Superman Arcade (1988): Starting off the B-Tier is the 1988 Superman arcade game. This game is a pretty simple side-scroller action title, with the player taking on Emperor Zaas' minions in a variety of American backdrops like Washington D.C. and San Francisco. When a second player joins, they take on the role of a second, unexplained Superman, colored red and grey, resembling Shazam/Captain Marvel a little.
- Superman: The Man of Steel (1989): One of the first Superman games ever made, Superman: The Man of Steel is still quite an impressive game. Missions in The Man of Steel are split into three distinct gameplay types: overhead flying missions, side-scroller action stages, and 3D flying levels where Superman flies into the oncoming background. The 3D stages are particularly impressive, with some colorful textures and sprites.
- The Death and Return of Superman (1994): One of the only Superman games to be based directly on a comic book run, The Death and Return of Superman is an SNES and Genesis side-scrolling beat-em-up. Based on the comics of the same name, players can take control of each of the five different Superman, including Superboy, Steel, and Cyborg Superman. The game is undeniably simple, but its comic references do the source material justice.
- Superman: The Man of Steel (2002): The other Superman game to release in 2002, Superman: The Man of Steel is an Xbox exclusive action-adventure game that didn't live up to expectations, but does have some solid ideas, just like Superman Returns. In The Man of Steel, the player is tasked with helping Metropolis' citizens in a variety of ways, such as stopping fires with Ice Breath and locating bombs through walls with X-Ray vision.
- Superman Atari 2600 (1979): The first Superman game in existence, Superman for the Atari 2600 may seem laughable by today's standards, but for the time, this collection of a handful of red and blue pixels was enough to earn high praise across the board. Here, the player is tasked with rebuilding a bridge that Lex Luthor destroyed and rounding up his henchmen. A bit of an odd gameplay detail is that if the player flies into Kryptonite and loses their power, they're regained by "kissing" Lois Lane. It may not be pretty to look at now, but it was a solid start.
- Superman: The Game (1985): The second Superman game to release, Superman: The Game dropped on a variety of different PC models, including the ZX Spectrum and C64. This game tasks the player with saving citizens from Darkseid, but in a pretty unique twist, a second player can control the Lord of Apokolips and try to lure the citizens into an underground lair. Again, this is a pretty simplistic game, but for its time it was certainly novel.
- Superman (1987): Superman for the NES is a pretty iconic game due to its unique art style, which gives each character an unusually short stature. The game's objectives are a little obtuse, and players will frequently find themselves being changed back into Clark Kent, which can lead to quite a bit of frustration.
- Superman (1992): Though its graphics and sound were fairly impressive for the time, Superman for the Mega Drive, Genesis, Game Gear, and Master System had a pretty limited scope, restricting players to just one of Superman's abilities at a time. That said, this game does feature some of Superman's best villains, ranging from Brainiac to the reality-bending Mister Mxyzptlk.
- Superman: Countdown to Apokolips (2003): Another game based on the Superman Animated Series, Superman: Countdown to Apokolips is a Game Boy Advance prequel to the aforementioned Shadow of Apokolips. Unfortunately, with it being a GBA title, Countdown to Apokolips doesn't share any gameplay features of its PS2 and GameCube counterpart, instead being an isometric action game. Countdown to Apokolips is bright, but its environments are empty and uninteresting, as is its combat.
- Superman 64 (1999): In a league all of its own, Superman 64 comes in right at the bottom of the list. From all aspects, Superman 64 is a true failure of a game. Gameplay wise, all the player can do is fly through hoops and occasionally throw a low-poly object. On the technical side, Superman 64 is completely broken, with objectives that don't activate, flight controls that simply don't respond sometimes, and attacks that don't register. Superman 64 is the worst Superman game ever released, and is likely to stay that way.
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