Let me start by saying I am a huge Superman fan and that is why I wanted to get this game. The Death and Return of Superman on the Super Nintendo is a game that was developed by Blizzard Entertainment and Sunsoft. The game is based on the Death of Superman, Reign of the Supermen and The Return of Superman comic book story arcs from the early 1990s. The game sticks to the story really well and uses different comic cut scenes between levels to tell the story. You play as Superman as well as the 4 other “Supermen” throughout the game in this arcade style beat’em up.
The story involves Superman fighting a group of mutants known as the Outsiders under a nuclear powerplant. This awakens the monster known as Doomsday. As Superman returns to the city after his battle with the Outsiders, he runs into Doomsday. The two battle it out and Superman dies. After this, you play as the different “Supermen” protecting the city and at the same time trying to find out which one is the real Superman and which ones are fake.
The gameplay is a classic beat’em up. There’s a punch attack, an eye laser, and special attack that makes Superman fly up in the air then do a ground punch. This special attack can only be used once for each counter you have under your health bar. Once you expend a special attack, one of the counters disappears limiting the special attacks you can use. The last button is to jump, but when double tapped it can make Superman fly. He can fly over the heads of enemies giving you a break from the combat for a while. However, there will be occasional enemies that will fly or be on a hover bike that can reach Superman while he is flying.
There are also certain enemies that can knock you down. Once this happens all the enemies on the screen will swarm you. You have no invulnerability while you’re getting up which makes it tough to regroup and get some space. Overall the gameplay is fun but it is held back by the incredible difficulty.
The controls are smooth and very responsive. Each time you press Y, Superman throws a punch. He can punch quickly making you feel like there is no lag and giving the sense you are in control and actually beating up your enemies. Superman also has the ability to pick up certain items and throw them at enemies, knocking them over. When you switch between the 4 playable characters, nothing really changes; just some of the animations for the special moves.
Each level basically goes like this: you have 3 different enemies per level. Each level makes a pallet swap to three other enemies. The enemies always feature a projectile type, a regular fighting type and a change of pace enemy. The enemies are plentiful on each level. However, health and extra life power ups are not. Each level is a straight walk to the right that ends with a boss character that is pretty difficult.
There is another type of level that appears twice in the game that makes the game a side scrolling shooter. The character sticks to the left side of the screen and shoots lasers to defeat the enemies flying by the screen. These levels are a nice change of pace and are much easier than the normal levels. They are not too long or short but have a nice length to them.
The soundtrack of the game is very bland. It rolls the same generic track in the background of every level. The sounds of the punch and hit effects sound pretty good. The visuals are pretty nice to look at. Superman and the other sprites are fairly large but this is normal for an arcade beat’em up. The background and foreground scroll with Superman as he walks. They can appear to be moving fast and be tough to look at. When standing still they are nicely colored, but lack fine detail. The other characters look good as well. Some of the changes to their moves are a nice touch and remind you that they are different even though they don’t change the gameplay.
Overall this game is very unforgiving. Superman can handle average enemies just fine, but when it comes to bosses he does not deal a lot of damage. What does the most damage is his special attack which you only have a limited number of. There is no way to change the difficulty. But there is a special code you can enter in the options menu by playing certain sounds in order. This code fills your health and your special attack dots and it has unlimited uses during gameplay. This makes the game more forgiving. However it is like taking the venom out of a cobra in the sense that with the code, there is no threat to lose. Unless you really aren’t paying attention to your health, then there is no enemy or even boss that does enough damage in a few shots to threaten your life.
The game does a good job of staying true to the story. This game is also one of the tougher beat’em ups on the system; I had to use the aforementioned code just to beat it. The gameplay is fun, the visuals are average and the difficulty is really high. If you like Superman or if you enjoy beat’em ups, then get this game. If you aren’t good at beat’em ups or don’t like Superman, then this isn’t the game for you. But because of the variety and fun of being Superman, I give this game a 3/5 Stars.
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