RETRO REPLAY presents…The Death and Return of Superman (SNES)

RETRO REPLAY presents…The Death and Return of Superman (SNES)

By: John C. Mayberry


It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s….awww fuck this.  Not finishing this overused phrase.  It’s a game.  It’s a freaking Superman game.

Alright kids, I’m going to be merciful this time and lay off the GameBoy kool-aid for a little bit here.  Really, there is just so much horseshit passed off as playable games that the GameBoy library for me has become more of a crapshoot as far as what’s actually good, or what I’d rather punch myself in the face over rather than play.  So, since I’m not a constant doom-and-fucking-gloom kind of guy I thought I’d share with you a gem from the 16-bit years of gaming.  Yeah, I know, freaking finally, right?  You’re probably thinking, “Finally this asshole gives us something beyond crap-ass handhelds.”  This one I remember fondly from my pre-pubescent days as a skinny little shit who played games near constantly, and yes, also because I’m a lifelong comic book nerd.  And to think, all it took was Superman being horribly beaten and tossed around like a fucking ragdoll to the point of physical death to make this game possible!  Hooray bare-fisted super strength alien death bludgeoning!

And it’s because of the still-memorable story arcs released by DC that covered the full scope of his demise and subsequent resurrection that we have The Death and Return of Superman available for both the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis libraries.  We’ll be focusing on the SNES version for this one, kids, since that was where I was first exposed to this game, which basically followed the same formula of the classic brawler (a.k.a. the “I’m going to beat the shit out of you so hard!”) games that were at the height of their popularity during the 16-bit years.  Now these games I always found entertaining as hell because there was just something about the sound effects of smashing in enemy skulls with fists, melee weapons or other objects that gave us all of gaming generations past a sick and sadistic glee every time we played, and the fact that we got to do it as Superman this time was pretty freaking sweet, too.


“I wear my sunglasses at night So I can, so I can watch you weave then breathe your story lines”


Well, not technically just as Superman, since for those of us who read the original stories already know of the four replacements that came in to fill the void after Supes’ being beaten to death by Doomsday, who before that had kicked the ever-loving shit out of the entire Justice League…literally with one hand tied behind his back.  Starting the game as big blue boy scout in the red banana hammock up until his demise battling Doomsday, you’ll also play as the Eradicator, Superboy, the Cyborg Superman, and Shaq…shit, sorry…Steel, I mean Steel, in what’s by far one of the best looking SNES games I’ve ever seen.  I mean the detail of the characters is almost completely spot on and very reminiscent of the comic book art, some of which is also used in brief cutscenes between levels.  But…as great as everything looks, I started to notice something…a couple of things actually.  And no, I’m not talking about how the shading somehow makes Supes look like he’s packing a 10-pound dork, but who’s looking at that anyway?  It certainly wasn’t me…perverts…

Firstly, after playing the first level and a little bit of the second, I asked myself, “Hey, asshole, something isn’t quite right here…care to guess what it is, ya dipshit?”  Within my strange mental devices, I begin to think…and think…and think…then it hits me when I’m battling Doomsday in the middle of Metropolis…Doomsday is fucking tiny as shit!  I mean, dammit, he needs a freaking cheeseburger or one hundred for craps sake!  Everything else looks okay, but he’s just inches taller than Superman when he towered over everyone!  Where the hell did the details of Doomsday’s gargantuan size get lost exactly?!?!  Seriously, I almost felt bad for beating the holy hell out of that emaciated bastard.


“See? 10-pound dork! Wait….ummm…shut up. I’m not looking, you are…”


Secondly, despite the popularity they still hold even within the current gaming generation, one downside I can imagine for some when it comes to the 16-bit brawlers is the repetitiveness of the gameplay.  If done right, it’s a gaming genre you will never grow tired of playing.  But unfortunately, I’ve also played a few that just were just so hopelessly repetitive they may as well have just hate-screwed the brawler genre to death, and dryly at that.  The length of this game for one thing could add to the whole “same shit, different level” feeling of repetitiveness, since most brawlers in this day were relatively short and admittedly may not hold your attention for extended periods of time.  They do mix things up a little every now and then with Defender-like shooter levels, but even so, despite which character you’re playing as, those levels kind of come off as the same shit also.  Mercifully all you have to do is hold down the attack button to auto-fire on these levels, but where in the actual ass is the fun in that exactly?

Speaking of different characters too, do you know where you don’t see too many of those?  The regular enemies you encounter throughout the game!  Yes, you do have your human enemies, your not-so-human enemies, but there’s no damn difference!  You will, many times during your playthrough, find yourself taking down three or four douche canoes at a time named fucking Chainsaw, Molotov, or Ballsack or whatever, only to advance to the next screen and take on the same enemies all over again, only this time their hair color is like, pee pee yellow or hot pink or something.  Fucking hell man, was there anything else that could’ve been done to make it feel more repetitive other than that?!??  Oh, how about this kids, use your Game Genie if you have one, give yourself infinite bombs, and just keep defeating enemies instantly with that, from start to finish?  How’s that for giving yourself the feeling of “son of a bitch, is this game done yet?”  Dammit, at least you’ll finish the game faster…


“Feel the city breakin’, and everybody shakin’ and we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive!”


And with that kids, I am done ragging on this title for now.  May be revisited one day, may not be, who knows?  Despite its flaws, and no matter how long you could find yourself playing this game, because you seriously will get your ass kicked many times, you can’t deny the fun you will have with it going all “SUPERMAN SMASH YOUR BALLS!” on every single jabroni dipshit unlucky enough to not run into your Kryptonian fist.  The sound effects and the way you can toss enemies around alone makes this game worth a play, with you controlling Superman just being the cherry on top.  Although portions of the story and some characters couldn’t make it into the game adaptation, understandably due to technical limitations, I still found this to be a faithful adaptation of one of my favorite DC stories for the content they were able to fit in there.  So if you have a little patience, and don’t mind a somewhat lengthy and challenging brawler, I’d add this piece of plastic gold to whatever retro collection you may be building.  Do it…or be a fucking jabroni about it and don’t.