At a Glance: There are some bad video games out there. There are also some really bad video games. Then there are video games so bad they make you mutilate yourself with the metal tips of mechanical pencils and throw the neighbor's quad-amputee dog into the lake. But there is only one Superman for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and it is quite possibly the worst game to exist anywhere, ever, in any dimension and in any form. I'm being dead serious here, folks.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 90k
NOTE: This game is the winner of the "Awful Award For Exceptional Failure in Every Possible Aspect."
Houston, we have a size scaling problem, I repeat, we have a size scaling problem.
Game Plot: Superman is, from all that I can gather, supposed to be based around the DC comic superhero who is by all accounts faster than a locomotive and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. A more or less invincible character wouldn't seem a very logical choice for a main character of a video game, and the friendly folks at Kemco and Nintendo seem to agree because they made their Superman a high-jumping pansy who has a tough time dodging fist-sized bullets which move at the speed of a very slow (but action-packed) electric wheelchair. The pain is unbearable. One would think that with a game called Superman that someone had obviously shelled out a lot of money for the property rights and that the game would therefore be at least slightly good. Unfortunately, this is not the case and Kemco must have spent all of their money on the name of the game and no money whatsoever on animation, music, programming, or writing. The blocky animation combined with shoddy, frustrating gameplay and even worse characterization and terribly stilted dialogue, make this game hilariously poor in just about every conceivable way.
Superman is most decidedly not at all super in any capacity whatsoever except maybe in that it did a super job of making me want to kill myself and a super job of sucking a lot. The only thing about this game that kept me playing was watching and waiting to see what appalling tripe they would try to pass off next. I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who received this game as a gift or bought it in the store thinking that it would be fun or even tolerable for any amount of time. I can only begin to imagine the number of wife-beatings that resulted from mothers giving this game to their sons. Then the sons complained to the fathers, the fathers took one look at the game, and whoops, it's "I fell down the stairs" time. After playing this game I was forced to drown my sorrows in my drink, throw up, and then drown more of my sorrows in more of my drink. And then throw up again. It gave me terrible dreams for nights and nights to follow. Dreams of a world where being a super hero was the social equivalent of being a manager of a Taco Bell but the Taco Bell is the dirty one with the poorly-lit bathrooms that no one ever goes to. The one with the disturbing smell that resembles baby poop emanating from one of the kitchen sinks.Go Clark Kent, go! The fact that you can jump 500 feet into the air doesn't at all suggest that you might be Superman!
In the cut scene at the opening of the game, Superman is instructed by a statue that very closely resembles the Statue of Liberty but that is not The Statue of Liberty to go out and save the world from the evil General Zod and his bunch of bullies. The statue tells Superman to take on the role of reporter Clark Kent with the assurance that the statue would watch over him with its remarkable powers of freedom. We are to assume that Superman implicitly trusted the word of the giant talking statue and that he then headed into the city to begin punching necks and prancing about in tights.
The actual gameplay of Superman starts out in what is supposed to be a sparse newspaper office, although all visible signs would indicate that it is in actuality a cross between a prison cell and a barn with windows that are too high up for anyone to see out of. You are a tiny, chunkily-animated Clark Kent with one giant breast asked to go out on the street find news for The Daily "Planets" (actual spelling) because something strange is supposedly happening in the park. Clark exits the office and enters the big city, upon which he enters a phone booth, turns into Superman, and fights some generic guys who are pacing back and forth in the street for no readily apparent reason. Screw the park, something damn weird is happening right outside the Daily "Planets".
After the park trouble is solved, Clark is asked to figure out why stock prices keep falling because apparently he has some sort of crazy economic insights that none of the other reporters have. I can't imagine the logic necessary to write a game in which Superman has to save the stock market, but there it is. Once again, Clark turns into Superman and fights some guys. A lot of exciting things happen in this game but they all basically involve Clark turning into Superman and fighting some guys. The next phase involves saving the world from evil ghosts who look like turds made of ashes, an even bigger plot jump than the whole stock market fiasco. Maybe when Kemco bought the rights to the character they also bought the rights to farcical whimsy that included things like Unicorns, Ghosts, and Leprechauns, all of which Superman must defeat in order to save a Republican party fundraiser. The step after that finally hauls in Superman's arch nemesis, Lex Luthor. Following this exciting confrontation, the final part of the game is the showdown with the evil General Zod. All of these things show Clark turning into Superman and fighting some guys.
The not-so-exciting gameplay takes place at a slow, painful rate with slow, painful graphics and music that's painful but not especially slow. I don't know exactly how the game ends because I didn't play it that far, but I assume that it has something to do with Clark changing into Superman and fighting some guys. Then he saves some people and maybe makes the Earth spin backward. Some cars catch fire and the bad guys are shot into space in a barrel. Everyone, including the statue that closely resembles the Statue of Liberty but that is not The Statue of Liberty, are happy and sing songs about peace and flowers and about how great it is to live in a world where some chunky guy in tights has super powers because that's how all of that stuff tends to end. If you really want to find out how the game ends, I'm sure you could bribe someone to play through it for you or threaten to shoot them unless they do. I doubt you'd want to play it yourself unless you're one of those masochistic people who are into putting fishhooks in their skin.
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The Rom Pit is dedicated to reviewing the most bizarre and screwed up classic console games from the 1980's, the ones that made you wonder what kind of illegal substances the programmers were smoking when they worked on them. Strangely enough, the same illegal substances are often necessary to enjoy or make sense of most of these titles. No horrible Nintendo game is safe from the justice of the ROM Pit.