Format reviewed: Atari 2600
Developer: Atari / John Dunn
Submitted by: Michal Mozejko
Who would have thought that the Superman game released in 1979 (yes, that’s nineteen-seventy-nine) will remain the BEST EVER game in the franchise for at least next thirty years? Featuring standard (as per the first Atari console) blocky graphics, one of this strange mixes of beeping and screeching noises early gamers were so accustomed to, the game follows the DC Comics most recognizable hero (oh, wait – isn’t that actually Batman?) on his quest to save Lois Lane, put the baddies (including Suppie’s archrival, Lex Luthor) in the jail, and disguise as the Daily Planet journalist, Clark Kent once again.
Although sounds a bit like the cliched plot from Action Comics, this game was probably one of the most innovative action-adventure games in the history. The first to utilize multiple screens as playing area (with a fairly complicated logic between screen travelling though, enough to irritate few players for sure – that added interesting twist to gameplay, for those that was patient enough to go through the 8-page manual!), simple but charming in its design graphical depiction of the city, easily recognizable characters and challenging time attack gameplay.
The game objects are complex if you take into consideration the limited hardware of the time, especially when compared to other games of that period.
Starting as Clark Kent, you are supposed to find a phone booth to change into Superman tights, grab the bad guys and take them to city jail, rebuild the bridge destroyed by Lex Luthor entourage, get Lois Lane out of hands of the villains, and return to the newspaper main bulding as Clark Kent again – all that as quick as possible, watching out for all the Kryptonite traps that are waiting for our hero. For modern gamers, used to complicated storylines of todays high-tech videogames it may sound archaic and, well, bit retro – but the game rewards you with surprisingly entertaining experience, and provides one of the most sophisticated plots for Atari Age era. Together with Warren Robinett’s Adventure, these are the finest moments of classic videogaming to relive.