More Superman Video Game Ideas

I have had Thoughts on the making of a Superman video game before, but that hasn’t stopped me from having more. In most of the games these days, you don’t get to start at your full power level. It allows for a feeling of progress as you get more powerful as you go. That’d work for a Jimmy Olsen game too (which, as I have said, would be the best game for the franchise to have right now), but I don’t feel like it’d be the best way to go with a game starring Superman.

I think it’d be important to make a person playing Superman feel powerful right from the start. I’d want players to be able to sit down and immediately start flying around Metropolis, I’d want them to be able to do so without having to play an hour to get from jumping to flight. But does that mean the game would lack a sense of progress? Well, I don’t think it has to. What if, instead of upgrading Superman, the player upgrades Metropolis?

The work you put into superheroing actually has a positive effect on the world around you? That sounds like an ideal for the genre to me. I’m thinking that, as you get your experience points or whatever you want to call them, you get to spend them on various causes and groups and such. I can already picture an interface for this being represented by charts and graphs on a Daily Planet website or something.

It could have multiple effects in the game. Maybe at the start there’s a lot of randomly generated street crime, but as you put your Experience Points into the various neighbourhoods of Metropolis, there’s less of that. Upgrade it further and there’s none. Instead of getting additional powers that help you go through areas by beating up the enemies quicker, you can just remove the annoyances altogether. And it would have to have a visual effect too. Empty lots and terrible slums would be replaced by youth centres and affordable quality housing. Litter and hateful graffiti would be replaced with nice plants and beautiful murals. Here’s a flaw to this part of the plan: You’d essentially have to have (at least) two versions of the city. One for the bad neighbourhood version and one for the good neighbourhood version. And you’d have to make the good version more appealing. It wouldn’t be easy, but it could be done.

But I also mentioned upgrading groups in the city, or at least upgrading your standing with those groups. This is harder to spitball, given that I don’t know the story of this hypothetical game, but let’s pretend we’re playing as a Superman who is still relatively new to Metropolis. Maybe early on in the game, while you’re fighting crime, the police still don’t trust you and will attempt to interfere or arrest you. That’d be annoying, right? Well, when you move up in the world you could throw some experience points at the Police and they’ll start trusting you and not interfering. Upgrade it further and maybe you could even issue orders to Police NPCs so they’ll help take out non-supervillain thugs and save innocent people while you’re fighting the bigger threats. Then there’s scientists. Metropolis seems to have a huge community of scientists. If you put points into upping your standing with the general public, maybe they’ll be more likely to help you with information during journalistic-based missions. Maybe if you put some effort into impressing the academic community they can help you by making gizmos or scanning or something. There’s plenty of options here and each type could also open up new side missions to keep things fresh.

But one option I’d want to include is putting points into gaining the favour of Lex Luthor. Doing so would actually open up new powers, with Lex agreeing to make you stronger if you work alongside him. But the catch is, spoilers for a game that will never exist: If you fully go down the Luthor upgrade branch, you get a bad ending where Luthor betrays you, kills you, and uses what he’s learned to steal your powers.

Anyway, I still think the Jimmy game is the best option given today’s technology, but this was fun to think about nonetheless.

Other Things A Superman Game Could Have

This week I am just going to be unloading a random mess of thoughts about a potential Superman game, as I discussed last time.

Collectibles: seems like all these games have things strewn around the city that you must gather up because it is easy fun. Well, I propose we can do that here as well. I would go with the story that Beppo the Supermonkey ransacked the Fortress of Solitude and hid them around town. You gotta get them back. Easy. And the collectibles would be souvenirs from old missions or Kryptonian artifacts and so on. A good chance to introduce the franchise to players.

Mxyzptlk Missions: As I said last time, I would keep Mxy away from combat missions. Much better if he is used to create crazy side missions. And I would absolutely include one where he makes you fly through rings as in Superman 64, considered one of the worst games ever. And I wouldn’t even feel bad about it.

Fast Travel: I don’t know for sure how super speed could be done in a game. I picture a button that you press and everybody but you slows to a snail’s pace, it uses up your power and all that stuff. That is all well and good, but also it is clear that fast travel in the game could also be presented as super speed in action. As long as your in your guise as Superman (ie, not as Clark Kent) you should be able to instantly get to any location in the city. And if you leave the city boundaries, or just fly up, up, and away, you get to choose locations outside of the city to visit. (The Fortress, Smallville, probably some oil rig, wherever else the game takes you).

Other Playable Characters: If this game is designed to make it feel good to be Superman, don’t take that away by making the player have to be Lois or Jimmy for missions. Instead, have the Other Character missions be other superheroes. I have no idea what kind of canon this game would be shooting for, but if I were in charge we would be seeing a Superman who has been around a while and therefore has allies. Supergirl, Steel, Mon-El, Superboy, Krypto. There are plenty of options.

Plot: As I said among these posts, I’d not want to use either aliens (such as General Zod) or Lex Luthor as the villain of my Superman game. For the first game, I’d keep it lower stakes. You start the game with Lois and Clark investigating someone wrongly accused of murder (which functions both as a reference to the very first person Superman saved in the comics, and as the sort of thing I like to see them doing in general) and that investigation leads them to uncovering corruption in local politics, police, and ties organized crime (The Scarlet Widow would work for that role, of course). These corrupt politicians and mobsters would obviously have supervillains on the payroll, so we’re good to go.

Anyway, I’m gonna stop talking about the game now. I have proven to myself it could work, so now I can sit back and wait until a real Superman game is either made poorly or not made at all.

Who Should Superman Beat Up?

I have recently been seeing bits of this new Spider-Man game that just came out, and thus my jealousy of other non-Superman superheroes is rising up again. I know I already solved the lack of a good Superman game by saying they should be making a game about Jimmy Olsen, but even I am aware how unrealistic that would be.

If a Superman game ever happens, it would star Superman. And they would probably want it to still be like these Spider-Man and Batman games where the hero fights through armies of crooks. That wouldn’t be great for Superman. It is an iconic image of the Superman mythos: he stands before a crook who empties a gun into his chest and Superman just stands there, unharmed. Just because you have a gun, doesn’t mean you win anymore. Superman is in town. To accurately make a Superman game, you would have to replicate that. He would not be a good fit for the style of gameplay that the recent Spider-Man and Batman games have. This should be solved by making combat against supervillains (Metallo, Parasite, Clawster, and so on) a special event and the rest of the time you’d be doing journalism and saving civilians.

But no. It wouldn’t happen that way. If you only get to taste combat during boss fights, you would never get to enjoy it, right? Superman needs hordes of goons that he can beat up on. Today I will provide some examples of baddie hordes one could use:

Aliens seems like the easiest way to. There is a whole army of Kryptonian criminals waiting in the Phantom Zone to fight. But if it were me making this game, I would be saving most of the aliens for the sequel, so I will focus on Earthly threats.

Robots is a good place to start. I would make it a mandatory requirement of this game that the robots from the Mechanical Monsters short show up. That is a must.

My next thought is Toyman. His army of robot toys would provide a lot of variety for baddies. You could have green army men as his main troops. Giant teddy bears as the muscle. He had flying monkeys once on Supergirl, so throw those in. Toyman offers a lot.

A non-robot source of a variety of enemies would be Funnyface. As I explained before, he can animate characters from comics, so he could bring forth any number of sci-fi or fantasy foes worth our fists. (Similarly, Mxyzptlk offers a means to fight any and every thing, of course, but I would rather save him for non-combat stuff.)

If we absolutely need Superman to be punching actual people, we can do that a couple different ways. The main way, the way which Absolutely Will be in a Superman game if they ever make one, is to give mobsters super high-tech weaponry. That’s fine, but a batch of Intergang crooks with fancy guns is not particularly interesting. It’s downright boring. It can be in there, but it has to be the least of Superman’s worries.

Luckily, Superman has a villain called Riot. He has the power to create multiple forms of himself and run amok over the city. That means there could be massive battles against dozens of enemies that are actually one guy. I am actually pretty sure he actually showed up in the Superman Returns game, so lets take that and improve on it.

Another option that occurs to me is criminals who are using Tar. In a storyline during the 90s, I can’t recall if it was in one of Superman’s books or in Steel’s, there was a drug called Tar that would turn its users into superhuman brutes. I like the idea of including them because it could be required to administer an antidote to defeat them, thus changing up the gameplay a little.

Finally, a pretty obvious one: Lex Luthor. He is an obvious opponent for the game (too obvious for me. I would not have him as the big bad.) But he would be a plausible source of robots, and of human opponents. In some stories LexCorp has a security force of guys wearing power armour (Iron Man style). That means enemies who can fly around as a precursor to the Phantom Zone criminals to be fought in the sequel. And after Superman beats them Lex can issue a press release about how those guys were disgruntled employees using stolen equipment and so on.

Well, I think I have proven that you can have a variety of goon hordes in a Superman game. I suspect that next week’s post will also be about a hypothetical Superman game.

Superman Needs A Good Videogame

I think, even more so than a good movie, a good game would really bring some people into the Superman franchise. With my constant jealousness of the Batman franchise, I saw the semi-recent success of his Arkham games and wanted that for Superman.

It’s worth knowing that Superman has famously never had much in the way of good games and, in fact, has some of the very worst games out there. Thus, if we finally gave him a good game, we’d not only be introducing new people to the franchise, but we’d be remedying that unfortunate state.

I will point out, to begin, that I don’t think we currently have the technology to make the Superman game I’d consider ideal. If you can’t give me a non-scaled-down, fully destructible version of Metropolis with millions of distinct npc civilians, well then what’s the point? But if we can’t meet that unrealistic expectation, what do I propose?

Why, we make a game starring Jimmy Olsen, of course!

Jimmy can be a fighter. Not on the level of Batman, obviously, but if you give him a fighting style that focuses heavily on disarming opponents and Judo-style moves and all that, you’ve got as much to work with for a game. Throw in temporary super-power-ups like Elastic Lad and Werewolf forms, and photograph-taking missions, and you’ve got a way to introduce all the elements of the franchise to that massive gaming audience. And you don’t even have to piss anyone off by making Superman “weaker” than he’s supposed to be.

A very similar argument could be made for making a game starring Lois Lane. In fact, it’d probably be better. But I’m still nervous about how they’d mess it up. If you mess up a Jimmy Olsen game, who cares? If you mess up a Lois Lane game, that’d hurt.