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Superman (Sega Mega Drive)

Purchase

When purchasing my Extreme Land Sega Mega Drive 2 clone, I was also in need for some games together with the console. I do not have any Sega rewritable cartridges, flash RAM or disk interface. Copy devices for Sega Mega Drive exist, but they are next to impossible to find in present days. That is why I have to buy cartridges - new or second hand, in order to play games on the Sega MD2 clone console. The cartridges are not expensive, taking into account the age of the console and the presence of emulators, which emulate the hardware almost perfectly, but games are hard to find. I had the luck to find one more cartridge than the bundled with the console, and it was the Superman game. As everything come bundled, I am not sure exactly about the price, but I set it at 10 BGN.

Package

Superman box with cover on the background is the box of the Extreme Land console. The game came in a standard sized Sega games box, with a strange cover. The label on the cover is The Death and Return of Superman and the Superman sign perforated by a fist. The cover is the same on both sides. There are no screenshots of the game on the cover, but pictures of The Cyborg, The Eradicator, Superboy and The Man of Steel. Superman box open. Inside is the game cartridge. Inside the box there are no instructions manual or anything else except the game cartridge itself, sticker with a black label, with the same name and logo as on the cover, only little blurred and two naked footsteps on the bottom right corner. On the top of the cartridge is written with white letters SUPERMAN and then with yellow letters Dd-096. This cryptic yellow letters looked like catalogue number to me. The lack of manual made me suspicious about the game origin, but as I have no other games to choose from, I decided to buy it nevertheless. At least it had a box and a cover. I have seen many second hand cartridges sold without any box, manual or cover. On the cartridge and the plastic case there were inscribed the SEGA logo, and I was given the seller's word, that the game is for Sega Mega Drive and works, so I took it, despite the fact there was nowhere mention of Sega on the coverart, or screenshots at least to decide if the game is for 16 bit Sega, or some other console. After returning home and installing the Sega compatible console, the cartridge was the second to try after the bundled game.

The game

Superman game on Extreme land Mega Drive 2 console - crack text. As I expected the game was not original. After power on, the blue SEGA logo appears on the screen then a crack screen with text:

SUPERMAN AND ALL RELATED ELEMENTS ARE
THE PROPERTY OF A.I.
THANKS TO MR.A & DR.PIG.
NO RIGHTS RESERVED.

© 1992 A.I.

HAVE A NICE DAY.

There is no music or special effects on the cracktro, just the text, then the title screen appears. As I am not a Sega games collector, it was not so bad that the game is not original. At least it worked and I have one more game to play on my Extreme Land console, whenever original or not. There is nothing else suggesting the game is not original, if the player does not know other versions, except this pretitle text. The game is playable, there are no sound quirks and everything looks normal, unlike on some other cracked games I have seen, where the music is with wrong timing, or there are graphics glitches.

Title Screen

Superman game - title screen. The title screen of the game is very minimal with the Superman text on the top and the S Superman's sign at the center, then is the

  • PRESS START TO PLAY
flashing text, suggesting the player how to start the game. At the bottom is the SUNSOFT logo. The title is on black background with space theme, some stars and a far galaxy, suggesting the extraterrestrial origin of Superman. If the game is left for some seconds, demos of the first three levels are shown for around twenty seconds, starting from the first, then the second level and then the third level, looped beginning from the first. This screen is nothing special, but leaving the game for several minutes, the player can preview the levels, their gameplay, graphics and music, and what to expect after the first level. Here is also the second sign about the game unlicensed origin. On the original licensed game, there is options menu, where the player can set the Difficulty to PRACTICE, NORMAL or DIFFICULT, do a MUSIC TEST, EFFECT TEST, or EXIT to the game. On the version I have the game goes directly to the first level introduction animation, where Clark Kent (Superman) changes his clothes in a phonebooth during the day.

First Level

Superman game for Sega Mega Drive - first level screenshot. After Clark Kent morphs into his Superman costumes, the classic multi layered blue suit, matching red boots and cape, which continues to be one of the most popular Halloween costumes for children and young adults today, the picture of the daily Planet newspaper is shown. The date of issue is Tuesday, December 22, 1992. The coverstory is STRANGE DISAPPEARENCE OF CHILDREN!. After Superman drills the newspaper flying with fist in front, the game starts. The level is set at the top of the buildings, from where the nice view of the city is exposed. There are three playfields, the distant one with skyscrapers, the middle one with building, where the Sunsoft and Daily Planet logos are seen, and the near, on which the game is played. The superman have to walk or run to the right, and there is no possibility to return back and scroll left. The game looks like pretty ordinary jump and run game, where Superman goes to the right, jumps, collects points and a silver S logos. There is a red S logo giving health to Superman. The special technique good to be developed at the first level is the possibility to hit enemies with fist when jumping, also when falling down, Superman can hit with his boots. There is also possibility for usage of the PUNCH superpower, which is also good to be trained for usage on the first level, where the difficulty is still not raised. There are green men, flying robots, which can shoot, and a flying saucer attacking Superman trying to stop him reaching the end of the roofs, where he starts to fly up to the top of a much higher building. During his fly up, he can use another superpower - HEAT laser from his eyes against the stones thrown by people opening the windows, flying robots, or the flying saucer, harassing Superman again. It is better to punch with fist the thrown stones, because they give a thousand points rewards, than simply breaking them with heat and receive no award. After Superman reaches the top of the skyscraper, the first villain appears - The Prankster. When Superman beats the villain who is not hard to eliminate, a nice colorful picture appears where smiling Superman holds the beaten villain in his green costume. SUPERMAN DOES IT AGAIN! is written and the bonus points are rewarded to the score of the player. The colorful picture turns on newspaper coverstory with title SUPERMAN SAVES KIDS! on the same date as the initial article.

Second Level

Superman game for Sega Mega Drive - second level screenshot. For the second level, Clark Kent visits the phonebooth at night for change of his clothes. The newspaper date is Wednesday, December 23, 1992, and the coverstory is MISSING PEOPLE FOUND IN BUILDING. The scene is set this time in a house. The learnt from the previous level special punches and hits come handy again. There are no people attacking Superman, but there are children who run to exit as soon as Superman opens their way by crushing the iron doors. There are many robots in the very aristocratic house, with nice furniture and a very big basement. On this level Superman can change his special power by collecting a blue S sign. The first special power is again PUNCH, while the second is SPIN. The SPIN special power is used to drill the floor and reach the secret places of the building. This time the level requires more effort to pass the different passages. There are lasers beams, robots and even laser beam machines trying to stop Superman on his brave mission. On this level Superman can scroll in both directions - left and right, also there are passages with up and down scrolls, but he can not climb ladders and return back if he did a spin on the floor, even if a ladder is present. Other obstacles are the green lava and the moving plasma balls, which drain Superman's power very quickly. The level graphics this time are done only with two playfields. In one of the basement rooms is the villain Metallo, who Superman have to beat twice. First time the villian runs out when seeing that his energy is almost gone. After a short chase in the subway, Superman have to beat him again. The super PUNCH comes handy again. When beaten, another nice picture of Superman punching Metallo with appears, SUPERMAN DOES IT AGAIN!, and the player is rewarded more clear score because of the higher level. The coverstory of the newspaper with the nice picture and the Wednesday, December 23, 1992 date is SUPERMAN FREES PEOPLE, although there is nowhere seen freed people, except the children at the beginning.

Third Level

Superman game for Sega Mega Drive - third level screenshot. Before the third level, Clark Kent changes in the phonebooth early in the morning at the dawn of the sun. The coverstory of the newspaper from Thursday, December 24, 1992 is STAR REPORTER LOIS LANE MISSING!. The third level begins different than the previous two. Superman flies to the right above a ocean, and the game resembles more a horizontal shoot-em up than a jump & run game. There are several flying robots attacking him, also men from the water with shark tails throw to him some dangerous fishes. Superman can protect himself with the laser heat thrown from his eyes. After a short fly, he lands on a ship, but only for a short while, then he flies across the ocean again. After the second fly several robots attack Superman at once. After beating them, Superman enters a cave on a island, shown at the beginning of the level on the newspaper picture. Except the old robot enemies known from the previous levels, inside the cave there are several new enemies, including a big robot with jet and stone men. The PUNCH superpower comes handy for removing the big stones from the Superman's way. Inside the cave in a room with rocket, another villain with jet tries and plasma rifles wants to stop our hero. After eliminating this enemy, the game continues not as usual. A picture of a Supermen behind a flying rocket is shown with a title LOUS LANE MISSING AGAIN!!. The player is awarded the score as usual, and on the bottom is written again GOOD JOB SUPERMAN ! The new Daily Planet coverstory from same date as at the start of the level is SUPERMAN CHASES ROCKET!!

Fourth Level

Superman game for Sega Mega Drive - fourth level screenshot. The fourth level of the game Superman for Sega Mega Drive does not start like the previous three. There is no change in the phonebooth. Superman uses the outfit from the third level. An intro text SUPERMAN IN SPACE appears, followed by a nice animation of a flying rocket passing the earth moon. The rocket explodes, then sleeping Lous Lane in a rocket engine powered capsule flies away, chased by the flying Superman. The level again starts in the horizontal shoot-em up scene, this time set in space. The graphics is very good with planets passed at the background. At the asteroid belt, Superman is stopped by several alien robots, and only after their elimination, the scroll continues to the right. Here the game is indistinguishable from the classic shoot-em up games like R-Type, Project-X and Katakis. The enemy spaceships fire at Superman, there are also asteroids flying towards him. Present are also power-up to collect, black holes, used by some creatures to touch the asteroids and divide them. There is the obligatory for shoot-em up games big mother spaceship at the end on the level. The mother spaceship have four cannons and a core, which Superman have to destroy by shooting at them. After neutralizing the spaceship defense system, there are some small explosions. Superman enters the ship through the removed core of the defense system and the level is complete with the usual score rewarding screen, but without picture, only black background and the text.

Fifth Level

Superman game for Sega Mega Drive - fifth level screenshot. The fifth level starts with animation of Superman flying to the center of the ship through the corridor he entered at the end of the previous level. The animation is third person 3D alike, where Superman flies towards the center of the screen. At the center however appears the Brainiac villain green head, laughing at him. This level looks like a normal platform game, like the first and the second, but Superman flies and have the HEAT superpower at his disposal. He also can do normal punch, but it is not recommended. Major obstacles on the level are the flying robots, the plasma walls and the tiny spaceships. When reaching a special place, the Brainiac appears on a screen, laughs, then teleports Superman to another part of the ship. After beating four strong and big monsters, Superman flies through another corridor, then the games starts to be like a horizontal shoot-em up again, where the scroll does not stop and the player can not decide the direction. The corridor became wider and wider then the Brainiac attacks Superman with a laserbeam machine. The laserbeam is very strong and drains Superman's energy extremely fast. After Superman destroys the laserbeam, the villain runs away, several corridors are passed and the end room is entered, where the final battle is taking place. The final villain is very hard and requires perfect timing from the player. The Brainiac quadruples his image and turns around the Superman in a circle. Only one of the Brainiacs is real, which have to be hit at specific time in order to drain him energy. The real villain is indistinguishable from the fakes, until he stops and fires at Superman.

Completion of the game

Superman game for Sega Mega Drive - screenshot after the game is completed. After Superman beats the Brainiac, he exits the crushed spaceship, pushing the capsule of Lous Lane. He pushes it to the earth, then the greeting screen appears with earth image on which Lous Lane and Superman are stepping together with the Congratulations text. The same image of the earth appears in the game over screen, where the Brainiac villain watches the earth, if Superman can not continue. The final Superman flight across the city from the first level have the nice effect of day change, done with palette change. The credits for the game appear here.

Conclusions

Although the game looks with hard for Superman controls and not much superpowers given to him for use, the addictive gameplay makes the game a nice addition to my Sega cartridges collection. The need to master some special techniques for further usage and the mix of different gamestyles makes the game interesting to play.

  • Gameplay: 8/10 - The game is easy to master, but Superman have to be easier to control.
  • Presentation: 6/10 - There is no special intro, neither the title screen looks tempting.
  • Graphics: 7/10 - Even if the graphics are good for Sega Mega Drive, the console can show much better.
  • Sound: 7/10 - The sound is atmospheric, but is not always in rhythm of the Superman and levels spirit.
  • Story: 8/10 - The story of the game is developing and the game gets interesting over the levels.
  • Overall: 72% - Nice to play game with good story and decent graphics and music.


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