A World of Games: Superman

Superheroes lend themselves so easily to video games. They have powers and abilities that are typically fantastical and otherworldly, which allows the player of the game to feel just like said character. It’s an example of media crossing over and creating a unique experience for the user.

So when thinking of a character as iconic as Superman, it’s a bit of a bummer that his video game only lets you casually float around, shoot some laser eyes, and punch bad guys. Where’s the ice breath? The X-Ray vision? The laser vision (which I am reading makes an appearance in the final stage)? Can we at least get some impact to punches and kicks maybe? Also, where is there straight up a second Superman when two players join together? Why not make that another character, or even a simple Superman clone character? There’s so many questions here.

Those are the questions I had after playing a bit of Taito’s Superman arcade game. Released in 1989 and, as far as I know, an exclusive Arcade game, Superman is a beat’em up that has wonderful visuals but lackluster gameplay. I am definitely a bit biased looking at the game though, as I first played it well after initial release, and certainly after playing other better arcade beat’em ups released around the same time. Regardless, it doesn’t help either side of things when the game is just boring.

What isn’t boring is the arcade cabinet itself. It features a bright blue and yellow color scheme, with matching artwork on all sides of the cabinet. The marquee, while relatively basic, also makes it clear this is Superman. I wasn’t personally a big Superman fan growing up, but seeing his mug on the marquee, smoldering and just begging I plop down a quarter, really says something. I’d like to also call out the cheesy controller overlay artwork featuring Superman apparently bursting forth from the cabinet and into the world. It’s cliche but kind of funny to see so many years later.

Superman isn’t incredibly rare, but it isn’t often seen out in the wild. I think it could be a fun find if you’re maybe playing through other superhero arcade games, but that might be it. Seeing Superman next to say Spider-Man and Captain America and the Avengers and seeing how similar and different they all are could be fun. But in my opinion, on it’s own, Superman is covered in Kryptonite.

Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfiled, IL 2019

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Original blue and red Nintendo Switch controllers
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