A lot of DC superheroes have irrevocably changed the shape of the industry, but few can compete with Superman’s totemic legacy. The Man of Steel has been around for nearly a century and he’s found continued success in television series, feature films, and animated shows in addition to the core comics. Superman also has a healthy reputation with video games, which have been around for more than 40 years since the Atari 2600’s Superman released in 1979.
Superman video games have been plentiful in the following decades, but it’s proven itself to be a comic book property that’s difficult to translate into the medium. Fortunately, there are some Superman games that manage to be something fun and magical, and remain replayable to this day.
10 Justice League Heroes: The Flash
Release Date: October 17, 2006
Curiously, one of the best video games to feature Superman is actually a Flash-driven vehicle for the Game Boy Advance that’s a side-story prequel to Justice League Heroes for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Justice League Heroes: The Flash is an isometric action game that focuses on the Flash’s supporting exploits while he aids the rest of his Justice League partners.
Superman isn’t playable, but he becomes a strong and well-executed partner character who’s one of the best things about the game. Justice League Heroes: The Flash features plenty of Flash villains, but the game’s final boss is even Brainiac instead of a standard Flash rogue.
9 DC Universe Online
Release Date: January 11, 2011
A big-budget MMO game that’s set within the DC universe seems like an easy success and DC Universe Online from 2011 is still going strong more than a decade later after some free-to-play revisions. Players create an original superpowered individual who’s thrown into a desolate world that hinges upon cooperation with a time-traveling Lex Luthor in order to prevent Brainiac’s apocalyptic plans.
Superman is a major presence throughout DC Universe Online. The character’s portrayal hits even harder through the eyes of a new outsider who’s in awe of his power.
8 Superman: The Arcade Game
Release Date: May 20, 1988
Comic book superheroes have a rich reputation in arcades, and Superman is no exception. Taito’s Superman: The Arcade Game is one of the earlier titles to feature the character, but it’s still a very entertaining beat-’em-up and shoot-’em-up hybrid that captures the awe of a standard Superman adventure.
Superman: The Arcade Game creates an original antagonist, Emperor Zaas, but it still nails the superhero’s fundamentals. One of the best things about the title is that it allows for two-player cooperative play, where both individuals play as different Supermen.
Release Date: July 19, 2022
Crossover fighting games have never been more popular and many titles have found success in essentially copying Super Smash Bros.‘s strong framework. MultiVersus pulls from a wide range of individuals from the Warner Bros. Multiverse, an important pillar of which is represented by DC.
Superman was one of the first characters to be announced in MultiVersus and he remains one of the game’s most popular. It’s a lot of fun to pit Superman against other DC contemporaries like Batman or Black Adam, but it’s even more entertaining to see how he fares against Tom and Jerry, Velma from Scooby-Doo, or Stripe from Gremlins.
6 LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes & LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Release Date: June 19, 2012 & November 11, 2014
Some of the greatest movie and IP-based video games are their LEGO adaptations. LEGO Batman has become such a popular off-shoot that it’s received its own movie as well as several video games. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, are unsurprisingly focused on the Dark Knight and his rogues’ gallery.
However, Superman is still a highlight of both games, just like he is in The LEGO Batman Movie. There are also plenty of sublime Superman sequences in LEGO DC Super-Villains, which turns the Man of Steel into a valuable secret character even if the game is all about celebrating the bad guys.
5 Injustice: Gods Among Us & Injustice 2
Release Date: April 16, 2013 & May 9, 2017
NetherRealm Studios are best known for their ultra-violent Mortal Kombat series, which even temporarily crossed over withDCin Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. NetherRealm properly embraces its love for both of these worlds with Injustice: Gods Among Us and its sequel, which are set in a dystopian version of the DC universe where Superman has become a tyrannical villain.
Superman has never been more terrifying than he is in these games. Beyond Superman himself, the games’ rosters are full of exciting DC characters. Mortal Kombat 1‘s success has only left fighting franchise fans even more eager for a new Injustice game that builds upon the two exceptional existing entries.
4 Superman: The Man Of Steel (2002)
Release Date: November 12, 2002
Superman: The Man of Steel is an Xbox-exclusive release that attempted something ambitious as an alternative to the PS2 and GameCube’s Superman: Shadow of Apokolips. Rather than pull from the animated series or feature films, Superman: The Man of Steel dives deep into hardcore comic mythology, which is geared towards the character’s biggest fans.
The Man of Steel‘s ambition is both its best and worst trait. The nature of the game’s story, its art design, and the incorporation of flight and several superpowers is excellent. However, the game attempts too much and is left with confusing controls and other presentation elements that fall flat.
3 Superman Returns
Release Date: November 20, 2006
Superhero movie tie-in games are notorious for expanding upon their film’s storylines and often adding in new subplots with classic villains. Superman Returns was meant to be a follow-up to Richard Donner’s original Superman movies, but it’s now become rather cursed and forgotten in the shadow of Zack Snyder’s films and what James Gunn has in store. Ironically enough, the Superman Returns tie-in game is much more memorable than its accompanying movie.
Superman Returns does excellent work with the mechanics behind the Man of Steel’s powers. However, the game’s specifics with endless robot combat and tacked on encounters with Mongul, Metallo, and Bizarro occasionally wear thin.
2 The Death & Return Of Superman
Release Date: August 1994
The Death and Return of Superman doesn’t reinvent the wheel as far as 16-bit sidescroller beat-’em-ups are concerned, but back in the ’90s it was still a rarity to get a genuinely good and accurate comic book storyline adaptation in a video game. The Death and Return of Superman for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis do great work with one of the character’s most captivating plotlines.
Creatively, players control each of the four new Supermen–Superboy, Steel, Cyborg Superman, and the Eradicator–in addition to the traditional character. This variety keeps the game staying fresh, but there’s also excellent pixel art that rises to the occasion with the storyline’s exaggerated characters like Doomsday.
1 Superman: Shadow Of Apokolips
Release Date: September 25, 2002
Superman: The Animated Series is still viewed as one of the best adaptations of the Man of Steel in any medium, and Superman: Shadow of Apokolips is a PlayStation 2 and GameCube game that’s designed as an extra finale to the series. Shadow of Apokolips dons a cel-shaded aesthetic that gets quite close to the animated series’ look, as well as a reunion of the show’s voice staff.
Shadow of Apokolips tells a top-notch story that includes Parasite, Metallo, and Livewire, before a final showdown against Lex Luthor and Darkseid. Additionally, the game plays like a dream and truly feels like an episode of the series.
Many Superman games try to recreate the Man of Steel’s heightened action, but only a small selection of titles actually accomplish this. Read More