Review by xenodolf
"This average Superman beat 'em up could have used better designed stages and more variety of enemies."
I don't read the Superman comics or watch the various TV shows and movies - but I know a bit about the series. The Death and Return of Superman plays like an average beat 'em up with a couple of side-scrolling shooting stages thrown in. You'll be playing as the icon Superman, and four other characters I can't describe without spoiling the game. The review awaits..
The visuals are decent, but not great, for 1994 SNES/SFC standards. There are 8 unique enemy designs, but in most stages you'll only be fighting two different looking types. I like the two punk opponents, Chainsaw and Molotov - who fight with the weapons of their namesake. There are 5 different characters to play as, although a 6th one had an appearance but never took part in the battles. While the background environments aren't bad looking, they're very repetitive and three stages are re-used later on, at least partially. There was one level I thought was rather interesting out of them all, a destroyed city you'll be fighting in several times. It had dismal red skies that shifted in a brewing storm, and the ground was littered with land mines and skeletons half-submerged in the mud. I wish the rest of the stages had as much personality.
There are a couple of decent musical track, but the majority of them are soon forgotten. The battle noise is about average, with nothing you haven't heard before in a dozen other brawlers. This area isn't bad, but like much of the game itself, it doesn't amount to a whole lot.
I didn't have any problems with response lag, slowdown, or the position of the button functions. The aerial shooting levels (excluding the final one) were very simplistic though, and played exactly alike aside from different looking backgrounds.
The combat in The Death and Return of Superman is pretty standard - consisting of punches, throws, dives, and two types of special moves. There is the normal "desperation attack", which is a projectile of some sort for every different character. In addition to that, there are orbs of a limited number which can be activated to unleash a critical blast that kills any regular enemy on-screen any weakens the bosses. Although you can fight several of the enemies in mid-air, you have to return to ground to defeat any landlubbers for the screen to scroll on. Using the orb special attacks also requires you to remain on the floor. As I mentioned earlier - there are a decent number of enemy designs - but they are poorly rationed in the stages. Fighting the same two baddie types over and over gets repetitive no matter who you're playing as or what the background environment looks like. Of the five characters, all look different and unleash alternate types of projectiles - but are nearly identical in performance. Only two of the characters seemed to have any noticeably unique traits - one of them seems slightly faster than the rest and another is a bit slower but has longer reach. Even so, you'll be playing the game just as you had any other level - the styles aren't so diverse like Haggar's, Guy's, and Cody's from Final Fight that you'll have to consciously adjust. Aside from the core of the game - brawling - there were a couple stages of the various characters flying and shooting down skull-shaped robotic targets. These levels were pretty straight-forward, rather easy, and only the final one had any other objective than to just dodge and shoot. Another negative aspect of this game is that the majority of the levels felt exactly the same - with only different looking backgrounds. While this may sound insignificant, many beat 'em ups have stages which feel entirely unique - including enemy or weapon placement and things like breakable objects and pits. While The Death and Return of Superman may try to keep things fresh with constant story updates and a large cast of playable characters - it comes off as very limiting to the person holding the controller.
Replay value 2/10
I kept checking my watch the first time I was playing through this game. I have no real desire to back to The Death and Return of Superman - unless I was seeking a condensed synopsis of the comic book background story without resorting to Wikipedia. While there were five different playable characters, you had to take them in a linear fashion and most of them functioned very similar. There was also no inclusion of a versus mode or anything of that ilk.
The Death and Return of Superman is basically just another "buffer zone" beat 'em up, being of average quality. It separates the wretched games (Bebe's Kids, Last Action Hero) and uninspired ones (Alien vs. Predator, Koryuu no Mimi) from the good (Rushing Beat, Final Fight 3) and great brawlers (The King of Dragons, The Ninja Warriors Again). Whether or not its being of intermediate quality gives you any incentive to purchase - is entirely a question of how much time and money you'll willing to sacrifice. I spent $8 on my copy - and I think I should have kept at least three of those dollars in my wallet.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 08/10/07
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