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For: iPhone

Fortress of so-so-litude

Product: Superman | Developer: Tiger Games | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Superman iPhone, thumbnail 1
When you consider how popular the character is, it’s puzzling that DC Comics’s Superman has had a rather tough time in the world of interactive entertainment.

The Man of Steel is famous for starring in what many video game historians consider to be the worst game ever made - a torrid 3D action title for Nintendo’s N64 console.

Given this undesirable pedigree, you’d be forgiven for approaching this iPhone Superman caper with some trepidation. While it’s not as bad as the aforementioned 64-bit offering, Chillingo’s effort still doesn’t quite live up to its name.

A hero for our time?

The storyline is typically basic stuff. Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor is up to some funny business, and it’s down to you to discover exactly what it is. This lightweight plot serves as a backdrop for all of the other noble activities Superman engages in - such as beating up robbers, putting out fires, and deflecting incoming asteroids.

The action is viewed from a 2D perspective, and you control Superman with a virtual stick. Two other buttons are available: one activates your faster flying speed, and the other controls your actions. The latter button is context-sensitive.

A tap of this button normally triggers Superman’s laser eye attack, but if you press it when you’re adjacent to a fire the spandex-wearing protagonist will instead blow out the flame with his breath.

Spandex not included

Although the objectives change, you’re essentially just flying from place to place in as short a time as possible. The main aim of the game is to score enough points to earn a gold rating on each level, but aside from seeing the medal displayed on-screen there’s no other incentive for you to make the effort - no leaderboards, and nothing to unlock. 

Dedicated Chillingo fans will also note that it bears more than a passing resemblance to The Hero, a title published by the company last year. The Hero’s tongue-in-cheek atmosphere and cartoon-like visuals make it the more vibrant and exciting game, which is ironic when you consider that it’s obviously inspired by the Man of Steel’s adventures.

Superman isn't completely terrible. There are some neat touches - such as the comic book-style interludes and the fact that Superman can fly into space - but the crushingly repetitive nature of the gameplay kills your enjoyment faster than a block of pure Krytonite.

It also has to be said that the rest of the graphics are terribly primitive - Superman himself looks strangely plastic and lifeless.

While it’s possible that Superman’s casual gameplay might appeal to people who want their games as straightforward as possible, the lack of excitement means that even the most inexperienced of players is likely to lose interest before getting to the bottom of Luthor’s evil scheme.
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 7 December 2011
The lineage of lacklustre Superman games continues with this curiously dull and lifeless effort. The gameplay feels stale and lacks variety, making this a release that you should avoid like Kryptonite
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