Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird . . . . Oh, never mind. You know who it is.
Yes, the Man of Steel--bumped off a while back in one of the most dramatic moments in comic book history--has returned, via your television screen, in the Death and Return of Superman.
So what do you get for your cash? Plenty.
Superman follows a familiar pattern--a sort of bulletproof Streets of Rage--with Ol’ Muscles scrolling sideways through armies of evil creatures that exist only in the minds of video game programmers.
For those of you not familiar with the way DC Comics bumped off Superman, a quick review is in order. His death, and a pretty major meltdown of Metropolis, came at the end of an epic battle with a major monster named Doomsday. As the city is being rebuilt, four pseudo-Supermen show up--a cyborg, something called the Eradicator, Super Boy and a guy called the Man of Steel, a Terminator-like critter made of liquid metal.
The one-player, 16-meg cart lets you play as each of the five Supermen at different points. Which one is the real deal? You won’t know unless you finish the game.
The cart has an interesting beginning. You play the first two stages as the real Superman. At the end of the second stage, you face Doomsday. Lose the fight, and it’s game over. But if you beat Doomsday, you lose anyhow, in the final explosion.
The following levels feature one of the other Super guys. You must finish each level to find out which of the Supes is the bad guy and which one gets to wear the blue pajamas and that nifty flapping cape.
You start with five lives, and when they’re gone, it’s game over. But there are continues, and the usual icons, in the shape of Superman’s famous S crest, which revive your life bar and add special attacks, like the screen-clearing Earthquake punch, the hover blast of the Eradicator or the sledgehammer drive of the Man of Steel.
Each Superman also has a Super Weapon, like Superman’s heat vision or Cyborg’s gun arm. And each Superman comes equipped with a variety of nifty attacks--tosses, shooting, flying, kicking.
Also, Superman can hit the skies at the push--actually, two pushes--of a button and can battle enemies from on high.
The nice thing is that you don’t need eight fingers on each hand to complete the moves; they’ve been designed for the agility-impaired.
There are a few drawbacks. You can’t adjust the difficulty, and an experienced gamer will find only a moderate challenge. Graphics and sound are not likely to knock off your cape. And there’s no Kryptonite!
But the Death and Return of Superman is a solid, entertaining game that will keep you involved until the dramatic finish.