With the launch of Batman: Arkham City upon us at midnight tonight to be exact if you’re in North America, this thought comes into question as to why developers should focus the same amount of dedicated time and resources to build other super hero titles. Rocksteady Studio’s decision to take on Batman was the best decision you could ever make in development. Previous to Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman hadn’t seen a release in the video game world since Batman Begins in 2005. Continually the games have received disappointing review scores and poor feedback from fans. It was in 2009 that Rocksteady Studios released Batman: Arkham Asylum and critics and fans raved, this is what a superhero game needs to be and how it needs to be made.
You could easily apply this method to other superheroes; bring together a team of talented and devoted developers who are also interested in the mythos of the character you are developing. There are plenty of superheroes you could tackle and release into the wild while not being attached to a movie release date. This is the one problem superhero titles constantly face is that publishers often see the movie-tie in games as quick cash-ins and are more often then not made poorly and don’t fully realize the character’s potential. Take for instance, Superman; this character has had horrible history in the games industry. His last releases were back in the days of the Nintendo 64 with Superman 64 and let’s not forget the dismal Superman Returns title back in 2006. Superman 64 was based on the popular days of the Animated series and barely had a plot and just involved Superman flying around through circles trying to “defeat” Lex Luthor or Braniac on occasion.
Rocksteady could easily build a world around the character and a story to fit comfortable with purists and fans of the character. In order to build a Superman title you have to create a world in that realism is first and foremost a priority. The biggest difference between Batman and Superman is that underneath it all, Batman is just a man but Superman is a god among men. To build any Superman game you’ll need to have a restriction on the character. You shouldn’t be able to fly anywhere around the world, or use X-Ray vision to destroy some of the buildings in Metropolis (in which case Superman wouldn’t anyway), you’ll have to have Superman set in a restricted area. Here are my thoughts on how I’d see a Superman title being made out.
Take Superman set in Metropolis and introduce players to the world around you. Set Tim Daly as the voice of the Man of Steel with Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Dana Delaney as Lois Lane, and the rest of the studded cast of the Animated Series. If they can do it for Batman, why not Superman? Introduce players to playing as Clark Kent learning the ropes of the Daily Planet, earning various side quests performing reporter duties taking pictures of small time events and crimes. When an action for Superman occurs have players run to a designated area of the map to change to Superman and fly off to save the day. If you’re wondering at this point what the villain should be, lets make it an epic battle with Brainiac to kick things off. Develop the characters and story with a strong script behind it and plot and you have yourself a top notch Superman title.
Now to throw in multiplayer, you would have to stick with the challenge rooms that Rocksteady has developed with the two latest Batman titles. It would be ridiculous to have some sort of online multiplayer with Superman and other villains fighting it out in various types of online games. If you keep it simple with things like challenge rooms, it makes you appreciate the work put into the character and brings out the strength and abilities you could use to get the high score and earn achievements or trophies.
So in essence, I could see a Superman game being developed if taken with enough care, dedication and respect to the research put into the character and plot development. With the amount of care taken into Batman, Superman would need as much respect and considering it’s a character with rich history and mythos, there is plenty of source material to work with. So, I pose this question, what kind of plot would you want to see if Rocksteady developed a Superman title with the same dedication as Batman?