Superman in Review – Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s iSuperman!

Superman, while not the first superhero ever, is arguably the most well-known and iconic one. Created back in the 30’s he was instrumental to establishing the superhero genre. On the iOS however, Superman came quite late in the game long after Chillingo’s The Hero (TMA Review) showed its tight-fitting brightly coloured behind on the App Store. It’s time to see how the legendary “man of steel” holds up to the older and more satirical rival.

Superman is a side-scrolling action title. Lex Luthor is up to no good (surprise!) and Metropolis is in danger. Our mild-mannered reporter Kent Clark is here to save the day once again. Flashing red and blue, Superman goes up up and away to fight all manner of threats from the everyday bank robbers to robots, tanks and even meteors.

Surprisingly or not, Superman feels a lot like the original Hero from a couple of years ago. You control the archetype superhero in a boxed-in area fighting waves of threats. These include everything but the kitchen sink – fires to put out, robbers to catch and of course, all sorts of enemies to eliminate. And where would we be without the occasional iconic plane to catch and missile or meteor to deflect. All of this you’ll have to do before the legendary Metropolis is in ruins (i.e. there’s a time limit).

To keep Lex’s minions at bay and the city safe you’ll be able to use Superman’s well known abilities. Ice breath to kill fires, laser beams shooting from the eyes to incinerate enemies, super strength, flying… you’ll have it all. One thing worth mentioning though – you won’t get to choose which ability to use at any given time; they’re all tied-in to the current threat you’re facing. As such, icy-breath is activated automatically when you’re trying douse a fire, deadly beams when enemies are near, and so forth. And you can land cars and start pummelling them when the time is right – all via the same contextual action button. Each level is scored based on a few criteria to award you a bronze, silver or gold Superman badge. The scoring is quite tough though and most of the time I settled for bronze.

Visually Superman’s a bit of a disappointment for me. While I understand the overall graphics style was chosen to fit with the classic comicbook series, the lack of animation makes the game feel somewhat outdated. Most of the time you’ll see the man of steel move in the same pose regardless of the direction. The sounds are quite authentic but don’t really add much to the experience. The controls are intuitive and almost everything is done via a simple virtual-dpad and a multi-function action button. Whether this is good or bad is up to the player but I definitely missed the ability to have more control over Superman’s numerous abilities.

Playing Superman left me with quite a strange impression – pretty much everything in the game is a rehash of Chillingo’s own The Hero, though done either on par or worse than the year and a half old title. The graphics for some reason feel more dated, the controls less polished and the overall gameplay simply not as fun. Of course, the chance to control the legendary superhero himself rather than a satirical spin on the archetype has its merits, especially considering the horrific history of the franchise’s videogame adaptations. Still unless you’re a die-hard fan of Superman I’d recommend you pick up the The Hero – 2nd Edition instead for a much more fun and enjoyable experience.

With this I declare Superman officially touched!

Tap It Rating - 3/5

App Summary
Title: Superman Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Reviewed Ver: 1.01 Min OS Req: 4.0
Price: $0.99 App Size: 12.54MB
  • The one and only Man of Steel
  • Authentic comic-book style visuals
  • Classic Superman abilites
  • Poor animations make the graphics feel outdated
  • Simplistic controls limit the use of superpowers
  • Not fun


A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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