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Poor Superman. Because of his nigh-invulnerability and near-endless array of preposterous superpowers, DC Comics' star-spangled superhero has had trouble forcing himself into the same video game mold that works so well with many other men (and women) in tights. After all, how can one craft a challenging interactive effort for a man who can smugly shrug off the threats that’d put Batman and Spider-Man six feet under?
Superman, a new (and aptly-titled) action-adventure app from Tiger Games and Chillingo, presents a novel take on the red-and-blue blur that works remarkably well on the small screen. It finds our favorite spit-curled Kryptonian flying across a 2D Metropolis cityscape, battling back various “waves” of micro-threats in an effort to beat the clock and rack up as many points as possible.
All of the usual dangers are accounted for -- trigger-happy thugs, rampant fires, rogue missiles, and even sinister mechanical spiders -- each easily dispatched with a quick punch, a laser-blast from Supes’ handy heat vision, or a burst of frost breath, all accessible with the context-sensitive “action” button. Alternatively, he can speed to (and through) most threats with the “boost” button and the virtual d-pad, even shooting up to outer space at a moment’s notice to dispatch of bombs and certain baddies. Despite some occasional stickiness with the d-pad, Superman controls well, but some foes are an absolute pain to dispatch (forcefield-flaunting ‘bots, I’m looking at you) with his free-flying scheme.
The game’s background music is serviceable, and suitably patriotic (albeit far too quiet), and a couple of cut-scenes create a functional plot that sees Lois, Lex, and Jimmy all represented. It all works pretty well, and Superman’s 18 stages -- while not terribly diverse -- prove a decent distraction for most DC die-hards. That said, it’s a shame that there’s no “endless” mode to accompany the wave-based gameplay, but fans of the Man of Steel could do far worse for a dollar.
The bottom line. Superman is a solid snapshot of the Man of Steel that, despite some repetition and occasional technical quirks, is worth a look from DC Comics die-hards. Its wave-based nature is a good fit for Supes’ brand of justice, and with a few tweaks and additions, it could be his best solo game in years.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later
Wave-based nature works well. Free-flying features are solid. Good array of enemies and threats.
Action can be rather repetitive. Some control quirks. Prone to occasional crashes.