Superman 64

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North American cover art
Developer(s)Titus Interactive
Publisher(s)Titus Interactive
Producer(s)Eric Caen
Platform(s)Nintendo 64
  • NA: May 31, 1999
  • EU: July 23, 1999
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Superman: The New Superman Adventures (commonly referred to as Superman 64) is an action-adventure game developed and published by Titus Interactive for the Nintendo 64 and based on the television series Superman: The Animated Series. Released in North America on May 31, 1999 and in Europe on July 23, 1999, it is the first 3D Superman game.

In Superman: The New Superman Adventures, Lex Luthor has trapped Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and Professor Hamilton in a virtual reality version of Metropolis that he created with the help of Brainiac, making it up to Superman to save them and break apart the virtual world. The game shifts between outdoor levels where the player flies through rings while saving civilians, and indoor levels where the player looks for access cards, activates computers, and fights villains such as Brainiac, Mala, Metallo, Darkseid, and Parasite.

Development of Superman began in 1997 and was largely hampered by debacles between Titus and the game's licensors, leaving little room for focusing on the programming. BlueSky Software attempted to redo the game for the PlayStation, but due to Titus' expiration of the Warner Bros. license by the time it was completed, this version ultimately got cancelled. With three E3 presentations and positive press coverage before its release, Superman 64 was released to strong sales and positive consumer reception; however, critical reviews were extremely negative, claiming it to be one of the worst video games ever made and panning its unresponsive controls, technical flaws, minimal gameplay, overuse of distance fog, and poor graphics.


Superman carrying a police car in the first level

Superman is a three-dimensional action-adventure platformer set in a virtual reality recreation of Metropolis created by Lex Luthor. Virtual Metropolis is filled with what the developers call "Kryptonite fog" in an apparent effort by Lex Luthor to diminish Superman's abilities (which is actually distance fog and is used as a technique to mask the game's poor draw distance).[1]

In the main single-player mode, the player assumes the role of Superman, who is challenged by Luthor to complete various tasks and puzzles. Superman can walk, fly, punch enemies, and use super-strength to lift and carry large objects.[2] Superman's other superpowers, including Heat Vision, Freeze Breath, X-Ray Vision, Super Speed, and Reprogrammation (where Superman reprograms an enemy to help fight off other enemies),[3] are only accessible through collection of power-ups in certain levels and have limited reserves. If Superman is attacked by enemies, hazards, or is in close proximity to Kryptonite, his health will decrease. The player will enter game over (indicated with "LEX WINS") and will be required to restart the current mission if Superman loses all his health. The player will also enter game over if a civilian character is attacked or time limits imposed on various missions expire before they are completed.

Superman consists of fourteen levels, alternating between outdoor and indoor levels.[4] The indoor levels involve combat, exploring environments to find access codes to locked areas, activating computers, and solving puzzles to finish objectives;[5][6] while outdoor stages consist of traversing to the next indoor mission while flying through rings and saving civilians from enemies and hazards.[5] Several missions must be completed under time limits.[4] Superman: The New Superman Adventures has three difficulty modes: Easy, Normal, and Superman. Although in the easy mode the player does not have to fly through rings to get to goals in the ride stages,[7] the last two maze sections are only playable on Normal and Superman, and the concluding stage only on Superman mode.[8] The time available to complete missions also decreases the higher the difficulty.[9]

The game includes two multiplayer modes (a racing mode and a battle mode) that can be played with up to four people. In the battle mode, players must defeat their opponents by throwing various weapons and items at them. In the racing mode, players control a spaceship and rings shoot from the backside of one opponent.[10]


Lex Luthor has created a virtual reality of Metropolis and manages to trap Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Professor Emil Hamilton within it.[11] Superman enters the portal to the virtual world, where Luthor tells him that he must fly through his maze of rings scattered across virtual Metropolis. After completing the rings task, Superman realizes he must save his friends from the virtual realm.

Superman's first indoor mission is to stop Mala from activating bombs she has set in the two turbine rooms of the virtual Metropolis's dam to flood the entire city,[12] as well as the save dam workers from an underwater area she has trapped them in.[13] Afterwards, he heads to Lexcorp and gets to the building's main lobby; an encounter with Brainiac ensues, followed by Superman collecting letters from Luthor's cronies sent to Lexcorp revealing the whereabouts of those kidnapped in the virtual realm.[14] According to them, Parasite has trapped Hamilton at S.T.A.R. Labs[15] (the place which its chemicals transformed Ruby Jones into Parasite[16]), Metallo has kidnapped Lane and is being held hostage at the Lexcorp warehouse,[17] and Darkseid has abducted Olsen, although where is not specified in the letter.[18] He also finds out from the letters that Brainiac is responsible for programming the computers that trap them in Luthor's virtual reality.[19]

The next three indoor stages (the warehouse, the park place, and the S.T.A.R. lab) involve Superman saving the protagonists while fighting the foes that kidnapped them.[20] Lane had just been investigating into Luthor's scheme before Metallo trapped her.[21] As Superman saves her from Luthor's Dark Shadow enemies, she informs him that Luthor is sneaking in weapons in the city (which she suggests is currently in the warehouse),[22][23] and he has produced an assembly line for robots named Lexo-Skel 5000s which she thinks are being controlled by a computer.[24] After fighting the robots, finding the computer that controls them and deactivating it, he escorts Lane out of the warehouse and beats Metallo.[14]

The following indoor level takes place in the parking garage of the Daily Planet, where Darkseid has Jimmy Olsen trapped in an area guarded by the outer-worldly villain's parademons.[25] The mission is not only to save Olsen by finding an access card that de-activates the robot guards[26] and beat Darkseid, but also find a bomb he has placed in the building and deactivate it.[27] Afterwards, Superman is at S.T.A.R. Labs where the Professor is stuck in a force field in the lab's underground area; to rescue him, he must stop Parasite from flooding the area by activating three computers, collect a key underwater to activate a force field in the stage's high area, trap Parasite in it by activating another computer, and generate a green-lit terminal to turn off the shield prisoning Professor Hamilton.[16]

After saving Lane, Olsen, and Hamilton, Luthor's robotic troops are in the subway to enter Metropolis, and the next mission is to prevent them from invading.[28] Luthor, knowing that Superman is in the subway, traps him there.[29] The objectives are to kill all the Dark Shadows, save a subway patron, and succeed in a fight with another Lexoskel 5000 in the Metro.[8] If all objectives are met, the ceiling in the metro explodes, allowing Superman to exit the level. The final mission is on Braniac's starship, the location of the device that controls the virtual world.[30]

At the end of the game, Superman frees his friends from virtual Metropolis, but Luthor manages to escape, ending it on an unresolved cliffhanger.[31][32]


Eric Caen, one of the founders of French developer Titus Interactive, garnered the rights from WB Licensing to produce a Superman game during development of The Animated Series. Hearing about the upcoming show in the Los Angeles offices of Titus, Caen went after the license as no other company would purchase the rights at the time; he recalled in a 2015 interview that the company "asked me three times if I was sure of what I was doing."[33] In early 1997 Titus signed a licensing deal with Warner Bros. to make games based on Superman: The Animated Series for the Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Game Boy,[34] and the staff for the development of each port consisted of two programmers and six-to-nine artists.[33] The Game Boy game was completed and released by the end of the year.

The Nintendo 64 game's development lasted two years.[33] Caen's initial plan was for a style of gameplay only Tomb Raider (1996) had tried before, an 3D open world action-adventure video game involving real-time strategy[33] where players really behave as a superhero.[35] As he explained, "It would stretch the Nintendo 64 to its limits, feature Superman's ability to fly and fight, and include his every superpower."[33] However, according to him, it was "too ambitious compared to what an N64 was able to deliver," and less than ten percent of the original design was implemented in the final product.[36]

However, the over-ambitious concept was not the only reason it was altered so drastically. Only a few days after the deal was made, the Warner Bros. licensing team changed to a new group of people that, based on Caen's testimony, "hated us the first minute they saw us and our project" "believed a major company such as EA Games would pay more and create a better product," and "tried to stop its development."[33] Caen explained that the licensors' first demand was to make Superman "a Sim City-like game, where Superman would be like the mayor of Metropolis," instead of an action game.[33] After Titus rejected the idea, Warner Bros. only got more coercive; "they argued against any decision we made in the game," argued Caen, "under the pretext that 'Superman would never do that,'" and elements that survived, such as Superman swimming underwater, were kept in after Titus staff members showed documentation of the original Superman comics.[33]

Some changes were mandated by Warner Bros. under reasons of putting the fictional DC comics hero in a positive light, such as limiting the use of Superman's powers, the removable of break-able doors, walls and floors, and the game's setting in a virtual world, which was due to the desire to not have Superman fighting "real" people.[33][36] Although the ring stages were originally supposed to be tutorial stages, they became a part of regular gameplay due to the other changes.[33][36] These debacles with the licensors resulted in a delayed production process where "it took [Titus] months to get every single character approved" and an inability to fix bugs and issues associated with the collision detection and controls that the final product would be criticized for.[33] According to Caen, after Warner Bros. "forced us to kill the [PlayStation] version," the company was planning to pay Titus a litigation settlement as a payback for its abusive behavior against the developer.[33] Near the end of its development, technical support was provided for Titus by Nintendo of America.[37]

Pre-release publicity[edit]

Superman was shown at three E3 events in 1997, 1998, and 1999.[38][39] The game was unofficially named Superman 64 by some publications since the 1997 E3 event, as indicated by its coverage from Game Informer.[40] The 1997 presentation of the game did not reveal anything about taking place in a virtual world, but stated its premise would be Superman trying to save Lois and Metropolis from Lex Luthor's very dangerous creation the Lexoskel-5000.[41] Additionally, it showcased models of empty rooms, a concept model of Lex Luthor,[42] and emphasized Superman's X-ray vision power that made strong use of the console's graphical capabilities.[43] An IGN journalist covering the event saw little promise in the game: "For a true fan, the game probably looked great, because it was at least something to show, but to the casual observer or the jaded critic, the game just looked poor."[42] Animation World Network, however, was more optimistic, claiming that the game appeared to have "stunning 3D environments, various fight levels and rescue operations."[44] At the time of the 1997 E3 showing, the release date was set in late 1997,[43] but delayed.

Titus announced Superman to be around 85–95% complete in March 1998.[45] The game was delayed again after the 1998 E3 showing in response to gameplay criticisms, and released 3D character models and map sheets of the levels on 24 August 1998.[46] GamePro, labeling the game an "E3 showstopper," noted its "good-looking graphics."[47]

In June 1998, GameFan published the first screenshots of completed parts of Superman, which included views of the interiors, Metropolis, and the 3D model of Superman. The magazine also offered enthusiastic coverage about it, with journalist ECM reporting other staff "drooling over these first-look shots at the game;" he suggested the game "could be one of the hotter N64 titles of the year even with heavyweights like Zelda and Banjo coming down the line" and that its "astounding" visuals, apart from the fog in the Metropolis shots, "looks set to raise the bar on the N64 again" with its "clean textures and smooth animation." He announced gameplay details such as "an assortment of missions numbering in the twenties" and powers such as X-ray and Heat Vision, as well as the inclusion of villains like Brainiac and Bizarro.[48] Gamers' Republic, in July 1998, reported that Superman consisted of 15 stages where the playable character is "beating up bad guys and solving puzzles while trying to find the kryptonite diffusers in each level," also revealing a four-player battle mode the source positively compared to Star Fox; it felt its levels looked "well designed" and applauded its incorporation of Superman's powers.[49]

Nintendo Magazine's preview coverage in an August 1998 issue showed Titus still had not implemented non-tutorial ring stages and a virtual world setting in its plot; the premise was presented as Luthor trapping all of the Metropolis citizens in a "deadly Kryptonite fog." The magazine also saw promise in the final product, claiming that it was "packed with great ideas, and the four player mode looks like a right good left."[50] In the December 1998 issue, the magazine, which changed its name to Nintendo Official Magazine, ran another preview piece showcasing more of Superman's abilities in the game, such as breaking through bricks, lifting cars and humans, punching, and using heat vision and ice breath; it announced a January 1999 release date in North America and a spring date in Europe.[51]

An press release in October 1998 showed that at point, Superman 64's release date was set on November 16, 1998, with "a huge promotional campaign to include; special in-store promotions and displays, advertising, television, on-line and print media. Promotional items will include: standees, t-shirts, game footage, videotapes and oversized boxes."[52]

Superman was one of only five Nintendo 64 games presented at the 1999 Tokyo Game Show.[53]


NPD Group data reported Superman being a top-ten seller in North America during the weeks of June 1999.[66][67] In July of that same year, Titus announced that Superman had been the third best selling game for the N64.[68] Over 500,000 units were sold.[69] Eric Caen projected in 1998 sales of around a million.[70] Titus also reported consumer feedback obtained in the form of a mail-in registration being "overwhelming positive," and "More than 70% of Superman's target audience, that of 6 to 11-year-olds, rated the game as an 'A' title."[68] All of this strongly contradicted Superman 64's contemporaneous critical reputation, with claims of being one of the worst games of all-time dominating reviews.[5][62][57][56] Matt Casamassina of IGN suggested it was "executed so poorly that it actually serves to butcher the reputation of the prominent action hero."[1] Casamassina speculated that the developer had not "put forth any priorities for this title other than to finish it" and commenting that the game has a "rushed, careless feel."[1] Fielder gave the game a score of 1.3 out of 10, making it the fourth lowest rated game by GameSpot.[57] Critics, such as those from Electronic Gaming Monthly noted the ruined potential of a game based on the Superman animated series,[58] such as a "great story, interesting characters, plenty of villains," and the gameplay of fighting criminals in 3D landscapes.[5] The multiplayer modes were a little more well-received than the single-player story-based mode,[7] although issues of slowdown[59] and difficulty controlling the space pod were noted.[56]

The controls were panned for being difficult,[71][4] consisting of commands that were unresponsive and did not work consistently, such as for flying,[1][56][57][72] landing,[73][61] and picking up objects.[59] Tim Weaver of N64 Magazine complained that "the only way to stop flying is to crash into a solid object, preferably a wall," and "you always have to press forward to go forward, even if you're facing into the camera."[61] Conversely, Nintendo Magazine System, the official Nintendo magazine of Australia, stated that complaints about the flying controls were unwarranted as it was simple if the player reads the instruction manual.[74] Other technical problems were reported to be commonplace, such as bugs,[1][56] unfavorable camera angles,[5][62] bad enemy AI,[1][61][59] broken frame rates,[1][58] clipping of environments and objects,[1][59] and collision detection problems.[56][7][72] Jevon Jenkins of Game Industry stated some camera angles made figuring out the distance between Superman and enemies difficult and thus artificially added challenge to fighting them.[73]

AllGame's Scott Alan Marriott derogatorily labeled the gameplay as a set of "foggy, empty outdoor levels and indoor levels that seem out of place."[7] Some critics found the missions too easy,[74] un-engaging and nonsensical,[5][72] with Hardcore Gaming 101's John Sczepaniak going as so far to call them "obscenely stupid. One involves a Rubik's Cube style word puzzle, which is never properly explained."[75] He and other critics also panned what was viewed as ridiculous-looking fights with enemies,[4][72] with Sczepaniak reasoning that "melee combat is slow, awkward and imprecise, leading to much flailing of limbs."[75] The ring missions were labeled the perfect mixture of "monotonous and difficult" by The Electric Playground due to their limited margins of error and time limits.[76] Only a few reviewers suggested Superman 64's gameplay may have been good conceptually,[4] with describing the missions as action-packed and diverse[59] and Nintendo Power claiming it was ambitious for a Superman game to attempt to be more than just "a brawler with some flight and superpowers thrown."[63] Critics found Superman 64's writing poor,[5] particularly when it came to concepts unsuitable for a game based on the titular hero, mostly him flying through rings.[5][7][55] Asked The Electric Playground, "why put a life gauge or a power gauge on an indefatigable, invincible character? Who ever heard of Superman running out of super-breath? What does the most powerful man on the planet need with a power-up? Why does Superman have to fly an aeroplane (in multi-player)?"[76]

The graphics were condemned as poor for a Nintendo 64 game released in 1999.[59][57][7] The most frequent criticism was the excessive distance fog;[5][1][61][72] Mega Fun bashed it as an excuse for the developers to not take full advantage of the Nintendo 64 console,[60] and Hugh Norton-Smith of Hyper wrote the fog would force players to "pre-empt approaching buildings in order to not hit them."[58] The textures were bashed as near non-existent[58][72] and too "repetitive," "flat and featureless" for a virtual world setting,[56] with Sczepaniak stating that the flat textures of Metropolis made it look like a Mode 7 background in a Super Nintendo game.[75] noted that the game's levels had little-to-no lighting, shadows, or clear perspective for the player to judge distances of characters and objects in the environment.[59] Jenkins was turned off by Metropolis' lack of close-up details "that play a big part in the life of a city."[73] AllGame's Scott Alan Marriott dismissed Superman's animation: "Aside from a slight cape flutter while flying, he does not move very fluidly -- the punching sequence is especially painful to watch."[7] Kramer and Doug Trueman of Next Generation also bashed the character animation[62] and Kramer jokingly calling the enemies 2D-looking.[72] The audio was also criticized, with the repetitiveness of the soundtrack brought up by reviewers[62] such as Fielder, who felt it "would be considered bad for the SNES." He also noted "the sparse voice work even changes at one point, from Man of Steel actors to someone who sounds nothing like the lead of the show."[57] As Norton-Smith proclaimed, "the soundtrack is more than capable of causing spontaneous aneurysms at 50 paces, and the handful of canned smashing moves do a great job at driving home the horror."[58]

However, Superman 64's presentation was not completely without supporters, with some reviewers praising the visuals for being reflective of the animated series.[7][4] Chris Johnston of Electronic Gaming Monthly found the graphics "semi-decent" if "oddly letterboxed,"[5] and Marriott was fond of them for being "colorful" and "simple."[7] The inclusion of voice clips from the animated series were positively commented on,[7] with Weaver highlighting Lex Luthor's laugh which "almost made up for Superman being so hideous."[61] Lukewarm appreciation was also given to the music,[61][7] including from who noted its atmospheric nature although disliked its lack of stylistic variance throughout the game.[59]


Statements of Superman 64 being one of the worst video games of all time have continued in later years,[77] being ranked on several all-time worst lists of publications such as Electronic Gaming Monthly (2013),[78] The Guardian (2015),[79] (2020),[80] and topping those of GameSpy (2004)[81] and GameTrailers (2006).[82] It also appeared on worst-of decade-end lists of Filter and Nintendo Power[83] and continues to be called the all-time worst Superman video game,[84][85] which most Superman games usually are not well received.[86]

As of 2017, Superman 64 holds the Guinness World Record for lowest rated superhero game, citing its Gamerankings aggregate score of 22.9%.[87] A number of issues following the release of the game, the British and Australian Nintendo Official Magazine featured a tongue-in-cheek maze game presented by Lex Luthor entitled Lex Luthor's "Solve My Maze" after his words in the game's infamous "hoop" sections.[citation needed] Reported The Guardian in 2018, "Superman 64 has cultivated a fanbase of curious masochists eager to see how bad it really is. Twitch and YouTube host plenty of videos dedicated to the anti-glory of Superman 64, some of them made by people who were barely born when it was released."[88] Games Asylum reported Superman 64 to be the poorly-received 1990s video game with the most videos on YouTube about it: "Search for Superman 64 on YouTube and you're presented with over 600k results; over half a million. Over 117k videos are dedicated to Crusin’ USA, Mortal Kombat: Mythologies clocks in at 46k, Carmageddon has just over 23k, while ClayFighter 63 1/3 can claim 15.5k videos."[89]

Cancelled PlayStation version[edit]

After the critical failure of the N64 version, Titus gave BlueSky Software the reins to completely redesign Superman for the PlayStation. The game received approval from Sony, but the license from Warner Bros. had expired and Titus was unable to secure a new one,[90] resulting in the game's cancellation in 2000.[91][92] A build of the game dated to June 22, 2000 was eventually uploaded to MediaFire on November 28, 2020 by Richard Evan Mandel, who announced and linked to the build's release via a journal post on his DeviantArt page.[93]


  1. ^ Electronic Gaming Monthly's review was by four reviewers that rated Superman differently: 0.5/10, 4/10, 2/10, and 1.5/10. John Davison, the critic that gave it a 0.5/10, admitted the game successfully loading up was the only reason he did not give it a full 0/10.[5]



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  • Superman: The New Adventures instruction manual. Titus. 1999. pp. 1–13.
  • "Superman". Nintendo Power. Vol. 120. May 1999. pp. 26–30.

External links[edit]