Batman and Superman have been cultural obsessions for decades now. Whether it’s cheesy TV shows from the ‘60s, comic books, or the endless stream of movies coming out of Hollywood, we can’t seem to get enough of these iconic superheroes. But that doesn’t mean that everything Batman or Superman appears in is good. On the contrary.
Here are the five worst Batman and Superman video games ever made, according to Metacritic. If you’ve had the misfortune of playing any of them, I’m deeply sorry.
5. Superman: The Man of Steel
Metacritic score: 44
Superman might be the Man of Steel, but this Xbox game from 2002 is a boring slog. With villains and story beats taken from the comic books, it looks promising on paper. In reality, it controls so poorly that you’ll struggle to get from one objective to the next, to say nothing of the repetitive fighting mechanics. The game looked pretty good for the time, but good looks don’t do you any good when you’re cursing at the screen because you can’t control Superman in a fight. If you want a good superhero game, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
4. Superman Returns
Metacritic score: 33
The Nintendo DS is one of the best handheld systems ever made, with an enormous library of classic games. Superman Returns isn’t one of them. Based on the 2006 dud of a movie, this game takes the story from the film and transports it into a digital board game. As you move around the board, you’ll be tasked with saving civilians, using X-ray vision and fighting super villains via quick-time events. Thanks to poor controls and numerous glitches, none of this amounts to any fun. It’s also much more challenging than it probably should be, meaning failure is always an option. Talk about a letdown.
3. Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Metacritic score: 25
Worse than those two Superman games is this Dark Knight title that launched on the original Xbox in 2003. The game looked pretty good for the time, but the combat system was a joke. You could punch, kick, do a combo, and that’s about it. No dodging, no blocking — basically, no fun. Plus, since Batman doesn’t kill his enemies, you have to spend the time to handcuff each one or else they’ll get up a few seconds after you KO them. In other words, it’s slog city. Throw in a laughable number of loading screens, an impossible-to-control camera, and poorly implemented Bat gadgets, and you’re looking at a sorry excuse for a Batman game.
2. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Metacritic score: 24
The Nintendo 64 is home to some of the most important, transformative video game experiences in the history of the medium. Unfortunately for fans of Mr. Wayne and his alter-ego, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is not one of them. This side-scrolling beat-‘em-up is about as fluid as a bag of rocks. It’s a stiff game that looks like it came from the previous console generation. Everything is poorly animated, with painfully ugly graphics. Whether you’re a fan of the cartoon this game is based on or not, you’d be wise to steer clear of this abomination.
Although it’s not ranked on Metacritic — probably because most video game review outlets didn’t want to waste their time with it — Superman for Nintendo 64 deserves a special mention. Widely regarded as one of the worst video games ever made, this clunker is so profoundly bad that most people who play it can’t even get past the very first stage. It requires you to wrestle with awful controls as you fly through a seemingly endless series of rings while a timer counts down to your ultimate doom. Pass the ring part, and you have to save pedestrians from being hit by cars. Then it’s more rings to fly though, followed by more insipid mini-games.
This is Superman, a nearly all-powerful being who’s capable of saving the universe. Why would a game make him fly through rings and prevent automotive accidents? Who knows. But what we do know is that, like everything on this list, it’s an awful game.
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