A lot of great things came out of PAX West this year, the video game convention that, in my honest opinion, does not get as much recognition as it deserves and should be in the ranks of the larger expos like E3. In Seattle last weekend, PAX West showcased a handful of awesome gaming trailers and updates for fans. from trailers for highly anticipated titles like Anthem and Hitman 2, to full gameplay videos of Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spyro Reignited, PAX West certainly gave gamers what they wanted. However, arguably one of the best things to come out of PAX West 2018 was a video game that wasn’t even shown; mainly because it doesn’t exist.
A panel titled “The Quest for the Perfect Superman Game” was held on the first day of PAX West 2018. The panel brought notable gaming industry figures, such as Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller, as well as Jared Petty, Sydnee Goodman, and Corey Barlog together to answer one of the video game world’s most burning questions: Why is it so hard to make a game based on Superman?
The question has been plaguing video game developers and consumers alike for years, ever since the disastrous release of Superman 64 for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. The game was buggy, clunky, and nearly unplayable, and most of all, it made many developers want to stay away from the “Man of Steel” altogether. This meant that while other heroes, like Batman, got their time in the spotlight, Supes was left behind.
However, as many will remember, it took quite a long time for Batman to find his footing in the gaming world with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. That was the game that finally gave gamers the chance to experience a day (or night) in the life of the “Caped Crusader”. But why were developers able to find the right formula for a Batman video game, but gave up so early on finding the right one for Superman? Well, as ironic as it may seem, the dark, psychological nature of the Arkham games may be closer to what the perfect Superman game should be like; at least according to Corey Barlog.
Barlog, who recently directed 2018’s God of War, began to describe his vision for the perfect Superman video game during the panel, and it involves a lot of existential crisis moments for poor Clark Kent:
“I think the best thing you can do with a Superman game is to kind of explore the psychology of what it would be like to be a person who slowly beings to realize that he can’t save everybody.”
Barlog goes on to mention core aspects of his game idea, including the idea of Superman going about his every day life and all of a sudden hearing cries for help everywhere he goes, and the budding hero gaining a bit of a following on social media because of his good deeds. If you’re thinking the idea sounds a little bit like a Persona series title, no worries, Barlog mentions that.
“I really, really love the Smallville television show and I really love the idea of playing with this concept of Persona. Young Clark Kent – you have to go to school but you also are also uncovering that you’re the greatest American hero with your powers and it’s a sort of awkward coming of age idea that you have to balance. Literally you’re taking tests and dealing with the social construct of high school while also figuring out what does it mean to have these powers? It’s totally Persona and I thought that’s a little derivative so, I won’t do that.”
Barlog’s idea for the perfect Superman game honestly sounds pretty…well, perfect. The main flaw of Superman is that he has no flaws, something that Barlog also mentions during the panel. Superman being the best at everything not only makes him a bit of a stale character at times, it also makes it difficult to make a good game based on his story.
Superheroes like Batman are a little different, the Arkham games worked because they put Batman right in his element without holding any punches. But perhaps the best route to go for a Superman game is to take him out of his element. It’s why shows like Smallville are so critically praised, because we love to see our heroes in dire situations that they need to overcome. Though Barlog’s idea was simply that, an idea, hopefully he or someone else will take his words into consideration and give us the Superman game we deserve.
Make sure to check out the full panel story on Game Informer to read Corey Barlog’s full thoughts on the Superman game, and tell us what you think the perfect game starring the “Man of Steel” would be for you.
Source: Game Informer