In the spring of 1999 Titus Interactive brought us Superman for the Nintendo 64. This very game is considered to be the worst video game of all time and it was received so poorly by critics that the game continues to be mocked to this day. What's very strange about this game is that it actually spent over 2 years in development. The game was not intended to suck, there was actually a lot going on behind the scenes that we missed.
In 2011 an interview with the game's producer Eric Caen was posted online. It revealed a lot of new information about the company Titus Interactive and about their Superman projects. There's a few questions I'd like to quote from the interview:
Superman 64 was the first 3D action/adventure game that Titus worked on, as your prior 3D releases were racing and chess games. Do you feel that this hindered development?
Eric: The main issue was working with the licensor. They caused us so much trouble. Also our design originally was too ambitious compared to what an N64 was able to deliver...
Where did the idea of Superman going into a virtual world to save his friends come from?
Eric: Political reasons, as the licensor refused to let Superman kick "real" people...
What took up the most development time?
Eric: Politics!!! Approval process!
The interview reveals that it was pretty well the licensor that made this game so difficult for Titus to create. They are the reason the game was in development for so long and why the final version is so awful.
Now this is where things get a little interesting. In 2011 An early and unfinished prototype version of Superman 64 came out of the woodwork. This prototype version was owned by someone working at RareWareCentral.com. The guy at RareWareCentral uploaded a 14 minute gameplay video and did the first article on beta Superman. For the first time ever we got to really see how the game should've been, before the licensor had gotten to it. Let me tell you it looked awesome. Some began to wonder, when would this get dumped? The guy at RareWareCentral had no intention of releasing the game.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Prototype had changed hands. The new owner is Martin at NESWorld. Due to the guy at RarewareCentral being a complete moron, the mock-up box that came with this prototype was lost in shipping, and the Superman Prototype Cartridge was nearly lost. The RareWareCentral guy was also caught scamming other people with different prototypes. Unlike the RareWareCentral guy (Who does not deserve to be mentioned by name) Martin at NESWorld bought this prototype just so it could be shared with the world. He held a small donation drive, raised a couple hundred, and on March 24th 2013 the ROM was released.
Finally gamers were able to experience a portion of how Superman 64 truly should've been.
If you don't have the ROM yet, go grab it. This page will serve as a database for everything I can find on the Prototype version of Superman 64.
Beta Superman does actually tell you the controls as seen in the above screenshots. The options menu has controls for Type A and Type B control settings, but both are exactly the same. This might've been the developers attempt at adding an alternate control method that they simply never got around to completing. The controls of Beta Superman differ from the Retail version so I'll go over them here:
Start Button: Pause Game
Analog Stick: Move Superman
A Button: Jump
B Button: Pick Up objects
C-Up: Take Off
L Button: Use your X-Ray Vision
D-Pad: Move Camera around
Z Button: En Garde
The z button is what you use when attacking. Hold down the Z button followed by one of the below buttons to perform that action:
A Button: Use Heat Vision
R Button: Use Super Breath
C-Up: Longfist Punch
C-Left: Uppercut Punch
C-Down: Backfist Punch
C-Right: Overhand Punch
As you can see all 4 C-Buttons are different types of punches. Some punches can be combined. Try pressing two different C-Buttons down at the same time when attacking.
To fly you'll press the C-Button Up. The controls are the same as your standard controls with these exceptions:
A Button: Accelerate
B Button: Slow Down
You can't just land in the middle of the sky; you have to be near the ground to land.
One last thing that's probably obvious, you can't use your X-Ray Vision, Heat Vision, or Super Breath if you haven't found any power ups for them.
Story & Introduction
Our story in beta Superman differs from final, and it's a lot better. Metropolis has been covered in a thick Kryptonite fog. Lex Luthor and Brainiac have joined forces. Your friends Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen have been captured. Who will save the day? This looks like a job for Superman! This is the story that Titus intended to have and what the licensor caused them grief over.
The story that we got in the final version was, well pathetic. Lex Luthor has trapped Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Professor Hamilton in a virtual world and you need to save them. I understand that the whole goal was rescuing them, but the game also had you flying through rings and rescuing other virtual people. If it's a virtual world then why are we rescuing virtual people? It doesn't matter if they die because they aren't real!
When we first start the game we're greeted by the Titus fox head. He's much more lively as he moves towards the screen and then to our right. The final version just featured a simple Titus logo and nothing as interesting. Virtual Chess 64 featured a Titus logo similar to Beta Superman. That one moved left and right and howled. The Superman copyright screen we get next is the exact same as retail only having 1999 changed to 1998. Our language selector is still here with just French & English. The main menu comes next and it has fewer choices.
Beta version left, retail right.
The retail version has two extra options. These are practice, which is exactly what it sounds like, and Last Game. Last Game is completely useless when you have a Load Game option. The retail version also has a few more choices in the options menu. It has a difficulty selector as well as the Biography's. Seeing as how the Biography's really aren't a game option, they were better on the main menu.
The biography's are a cool feature, but they sure were toned down for the retail version. Some of the descriptions are different though. Beta version is left, retail is right.
Just a small difference here. The beta version left out a word on X-Ray Vision.
The retail version worded his story a bit better.
Part of Lois's description was cut-off. They also changed her picture.
The wording on Jimmy's story was improved for the final version. They also removed that part about being a techno-geek, which was very strange of them to even mention in the first place.
These are the enemies that you see in nearly every level. The description is the same, but the name was changed from Shadow Walkers to Dark Shadows.
Lex Luthor's description was improved for the final version.
Surprisingly, that's all for the character bios in the retail version. It's rather dumb that they end here because you're going to see a lot more characters throughout the game. The beta version has more character bios. These really should not have been removed:
Removing the character profiles was bad idea. The character profiles are a neat extra, as they let you know a bit of extra information about the character. This is especially good for people who haven't seen the Superman Animated Series and don't know much about these characters in the first place.
There's one more menu change and it's for when the game is paused. The beta version is sorely lacking a resume game option. Sound, Music, Display, Quit, and Restart are all here. Restart has changed places though and Music has an extra S after it. The missions part shows your objectives. The retail version has the Story and Controls in the menu, but it's just plain text. It also doesn't explain that you need powerups to use your superpowers. Not very helpful.
There's a total of 7 levels that are "playable" in the Beta version. If you're stuck, then here are the solutions for each.
Level 1: Metropolis I
As we start the first level we're immediately hit with a Daily Planet Newspaper to bring us up to speed. A gang of Shadow Walkers are attacking an ambulance and it's up to the Man of Steel to save it! Our objectives are to save the ambulance and then defeat the Shadow Walkers.
We start the level high up in the city of Metropolis. There's a total 3 Shadow Walkers spread out and an ambulance heading towards them. The Shadow Walkers will not shoot at Superman at this point; they are fixated on destroying that ambulance. The ambulance actually has infinite health, but the missiles fired from the Shadow Walkers will eventually knock it off the road. When it hits the ground below, you fail the mission. Saving the ambulance is not hard, you just have to fly at it and pick it up. You then carry it to the ground below and set it down. This will complete your first objective.
The second objective is to kill those 3 Shadow Walkers and this is actually much harder than it sounds. With the ambulance out of the Shadow Walkers range, they will now attack Superman. The Shadow Walkers fire homing missiles which can be very hard to dodge. You'll want to attack a Shadow Walker on either end first, don't go for the middle one. Now because these guys take 7 hits each, it's much quicker and easier to just use your heat vision on them. If you try to kill them with your fists the missiles will probably get to you first. Once you've defeated the 3 of them you'll win the mission.
Now if you're having trouble defeating the 3 Shadow Walkers, than I have a few other tips. When the mission starts, immediately go after the nearest Shadow Walker right below you. Those guys are waiting for the ambulance to arrive so they won't attack you yet. You can then rescue the ambulance and have just 2 Shadow Walkers to deal with. If you're still having trouble, then just keep playing. There's a glitch that sometimes happens where after you rescue the ambulance, the Shadow Walkers will not attack you. This glitch happened in the RareWareCentral video and it made this level look easier than it actually is.
Level 2: Park Place I
Now this level is actually similar to a level in the retail version. It was level 8 in that game. We get another Newspaper telling us that Jimmy Olsen has been captured and is being held at gunpoint in the parking garage. Our objectives are to save Jimmy Olsen and stop a Kryptonite Diffuser. We also have just 10 minutes to do this.
Now if you've played the retail version, then you already know where to go. Jimmy is in the exact same spot. There are 3 floors to this level and you start at the top. You want to go to the very bottom floor first. This place is crawling with Shadow Walkers but they are much easier to kill here. Once you get to the bottom floor, look for a large room with just one entrance. That's where Jimmy is. Go in there, kill any Shadow Walkers in the room, and talk to Jimmy. When you get to Jimmy he will thank you and tell you what's up with the Kryptonite Gas. You'll hear an actual voice clip here. Superman says "Thanks, Good job Jimmy." This completes your first mission objective.
The Kryptonite Diffuser is on the second floor so go up one level. Fly around and explore the second floor until you see a Kryptonite Density Meter on the bottom-center of the screen. That's when you know the Diffuser is near. It's being kept in a small room that has 4 lasers shooting out of the ground right outside of it. Step on the laser nearest to the door and the door will open. The diffuser is right there, you just need to freeze it with your Super Breath. Once it's frozen, Jimmy will walk in and thank you. You've completed the mission!
Level 3: Park Place II
This level also takes place on the Parking Garage stage. The Daily Planet Newspaper says that Jimmy has been freed thanks to Superman. The Parking Garage on the other hand is still far from safe. Darkseid is on the loose and there's a Kryptonite gas leak.
There's one disappointing thing about this level that I need to mention right off the bat. This level cannot be defeated without cheating. The reason for this is because you need your Ice Breath, or as the game calls it, Super Breath. This power up cannot be found anywhere on this level and you don't start the level with any in your reserve. If you're playing the Superman Beta ROM on a flash cart, then you can skip this level and move on to level 4. To do that, pause the game and then hit C-Up followed by C-Down. That in game cheat will automatically complete the mission. If you're playing on an emulator, then you can use the following Gameshark code to make this level actually completable:
Infinite Ice Breath
I did truly search high and low for an Ice Breath power up. The developers gave you plenty of the other power ups on this stage, just no ice. If anybody manages to find an Ice Breath Power up, please let me know.
We begin this level out on the highest floor and have 30 minutes to complete it. Now all the objectives on this level are done on the middle floor. Unlike the last level with 1 Kryptonite Diffuser there's 3 of them now.
This level is very straightforward, but it will require some patience. Once you're at the second floor, fly around until you get to a room which makes your Kryptonite Density Meter go off. That means there's a generator nearby. In order to open the door to get to it, you'll need to cover all lasers in the room. These lasers are covered with boxes, crates, or anything Superman can carry. These boxes might be in the same room, or in the next room. Check all corners. Once you get all the lasers covered in the room, you'll be able to get to that generator to freeze it. There are 3 generators all on the second floor so just do this until all the generators are frozen and you'll complete that objective.
Once you freeze the third generator and step out of that room, you'll find Darkseid waiting for you. He's actually a bit more difficult here compared to the final game as he has more attacks. He'll use his own heat vision and he's able to pick things up and throw them at you. You can easily defeat him with your own heat vision. If you've run out of heat vision, then a simple fist fight should do the job. Once he goes down you'll win the mission.
Level 4: Subway I
This is a pretty short mission here. A LexoSkell 2000 (or is it 5000?) has been hijacked and is on the loose in the Metropolis Subway. Superman must defeat it before it destroys the trains and the innocent people onboard. This Subway level was level 12 in the retail version and the objectives in the beta are very different.
You start the level with a 3 minute time limit and quite a distance to travel. You need to fly to the train stop at the center of the level. It does take more than a minute of time to fly there too. The most annoying part of this level is trying to get in front of that train. The train going towards the train stop is going too slow and the trains going in the other direction keep getting in the way. If you can manage to get in front of the train, then you'll save a lot of time. The best way to get in front of it is to immediately head to the left and then straight when the level starts. If you were quick enough than you'll get in front of it right off the bat.
Now defeating the LexoSkell can be difficult. You won't have any Super Powers in this level so you'll have to defeat him with your fists. The first thing you want to do is get close to the LexoSkell. If you fly around the room or are too far, then the LexoSkell will fire homing missiles at you and you won't last long if that happens. When you're near, it will attack you on foot instead of relying on its guns. The easiest way to defeat him is to stand there and keep punching the air. It will walk into your punches. The thing may fall down a few times and get back up so don't think its dead the first time it goes down. Once it does stay down, you'll complete your last objective and the mission.
Level 5: Metropolis II
This is a fun mission. Bizarro, thinking he was doing a good deed, has released a bunch of rhinos into the wild. This is a problem though because Metropolis is not the wild and these are actually deadly Rhinorobots. It's up to Superman to save the day.
This level takes place in the outside Metropolis and there's a time limit of 10 minutes. Scattered around this area are 8 Rhinobots. Now you can land and fight them, but your attacks don't hurt them. You instead need to pick them up and throw them into the water. Finding them is not too hard as the area where they can be found is not very large. Once the bots are destroyed, you'll complete your first objective.
You'll now need to defeat Mala. Fly to where the LexCorp Truck was and you'll find her. She is capable of flying as well and will attack you in the air. The easiest way to defeat her is of course to use up all your heat vision on her. Otherwise just keep punching. Once you defeat her you complete the mission.
Level 6: Subway II
Ah back to the Subway. At least there's no time limit in this mission. Our Newspaper update is unfinished but I can update you. Kryptonite Diffusers have been spotted in the Subway and the deadly Metallo is around. It's up to Superman to save the Subway.
There's two Kryptonite Diffusers in this level and oddly enough you start right next to one of them. In the room you begin in, grab that Ice Breath power up, and then stick the nearby crate onto that laser. That will open the door revealing the first Kryptonite Diffuser. Freeze it solid. Now when you picked up that power up they gave you only a little Ice Breath. If you for whatever reason wasted some and did not have enough to freeze that diffuser, restart the level. Otherwise there's one more diffuser left.
Head out of this room to where the train tracks are and carry on. Go past the train stop and continue going down the tracks. Pay attention to the entrances you'll see on each side. Go inside the very first left entrance you see. Grab the crate that's inside, leave the room, and then continue on in the same direction you were going. At the second entrance on the left, you'll find a room with a laser. Drop the crate on it just like before. This reveals the last diffuser. You won't have enough Ice Breath to freeze it though. Go back out of this room and take the next entrance on the right. You'll find an Ice Breath power up there. Go back to where the diffuser was and freeze it to complete the first objective.
The last objective is to defeat Metallo. Metallo can be found at the train stop. He doesn't put up much of a fight, just go up to him and keep punching. With little effort, he'll go down and you'll complete the mission.
Level 7: Brainiac's Starship
This is the final playable level and it's only for the most hardcore Superman 64 fans. I assure you this level can be completed, but due to its unfinished-ness it will require some major glitching. Frustration may ensue. If you're up for it, then please throw on the following codes:
Infinite Heat Vision
Infinite Super Speed
Now why those 3 cheats you ask? Well Infinite Health is for of course infinite health. This level is buggy and there's no way to be sure if you're going to attack first, or if the enemy will. Plus, if two enemies get next to you, they will keep grabbing you repeatedly and you will be unable to escape. That's why we're using Heat Vision as well. Punching enemies is inconsistent so only attack with heat vision. Now if you use heat vision and are careful, you could get away without the infinite health cheat. The last code Super Speed, is purely for glitching purposes. Super Speed was such a dumb idea for a Superman game. You'll be using Super Speed to clip through walls. Why do you need to clip through walls? Well this level has lasers preventing you from entering a lot of rooms in the level. You're supposed to be able to complete some task, and then the lasers will disappear giving you more access to the level. This level is unfinished though, so there isn't a way to remove most of the lasers.
So, throw your codes on if you're still up for trying this level. Okay, let us begin.
Now the starting newspaper is incomplete so this level has no story. What I can tell you is that Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Superman's home planet, Krypton. Superman has somehow boarded Brainiac's Starship so let's get some revenge. This level has no time limit, which is great considering this level takes about an hour to beat.
Our first objective is to find the XV12 module. From start, fly upstairs and kill the crab enemy on the way. You'll get to a room with 3 entrances all being blocked by lasers. There will be another crab enemy here. Killing him will remove the lasers blocking one of the doors. Take your new entrance all the way to the next room. This very strange room has a weird red thing in the center. This part will be very important later, but for now ignore everything here and take that little warp portal that's on the floor. The warp portal will take you to a room that looks EXACTLY the same. I assure you it's a different place though. There will be a crab enemy on the floor next to the portal. Leave him alive and fly away. Fly up to the second floor and take a large entrance. There's two large entrances in this room. One leads straight to lasers, while the other makes a few turns and then leads to lasers. Go for that second one. This is where things become a pain in the ass. The wall straight across from the lasers is where you need to glitch through. You'll need your Super Speed here. Just keep running at the wall. Run back and forth, randomly, whatever. Just keep at it and you will eventually breach through the wall. I've breached the wall in seconds before, but I've also had it take several minutes. The clipping for this game is awful, just keep at it and you'll make it through eventually.
Now you probably either made it through the wall or gave up on this level. Hopefully you made it. Now that you're on the outside, you're now going to have to snake around this level's walls. Staying close to the walls is necessary as there's a lot of blackness outside. It's easy to get completely lost. Across from the room where you just glitched you're going to see some kind of fan with a laser. Head towards that room and then go around it. Once you're around you'll see part of the Thunder Arena. The Thunder Arena is the place you saw in the incomplete newspaper cutscene. Go around part of the Arena and continue to go around the next room that's attached to the arena. You'll see a crab inside, but leave him alive. This room leads to yet another room blocked off by lasers. This room does have something interesting on the floor though. That's the XV12 Module we need! We'll need to get back into the map to claim it. That room with the XV12 module has a path going down. Since we're still outside the map, go down a floor as well. That path leads to a yellowish room with strange pillars on the sides. Go under this room's floor and fly back into the map. Once you're in, back track up to where the XV12 module is and grab it. Objective complete.
Our next task is to destroy all 20 of Brainiac's Robots. Yes, there's 20 of them!!! We have to get around this whole level so this will involve a lot of cheating. In the room where the XV12 module was, use super speed to glitch through the lasers. Remember those crab enemies from earlier? Well they are the Robots. Robot #1 will be here for you to kill. Next, you need to glitch through the next set of lasers into the Thunder Arena. At the very bottom part of the Arena you'll find crabs #2 and #3. There's 4 ways to go when you're in the Thunder Arena. Three of them are blocked off by lasers. Go in the one that isn't blocked. This room leads to a dead end, but you'll find 4 of the robots here. Yes #4, #5, #6, and #7 are in here. Kill them all. Make sure to keep your distance and take them out one at a time because if two of them get between you, you're screwed.
When leaving this room, go right. You'll want to glitch through those lasers again. You'll see crab #8 there. Once he's dead, glitch through the next set of lasers. Once through, glitch through the other set of lasers in that room. Kill crab #9 here. You'll finally be back in the room with the teleporter. Crab #10 is here. He's the one that you didn't kill earlier. This room has two smaller entranceways that are both connected. Enter through one of them and kill crab #11 who's inside. Go back to where the teleporter is and enter it.
The teleporter takes us back to the room that's similar but also different. You know how you killed crab #11? Well go back into that same room. This time you'll find 2 crabs there. That's #12 and #13. Remember that room that lead to the very first spot where we glitched? Well that leads to crab #14 and if you keep going, crab #15. Now go back to that strange room with the teleporter. (But don't go in the teleporter)
There will be two longish looking things in this room that lead up and down. We've ignored them up until now. The two bottom ones are connected so go down one of them first. Take a good look around down there. This room is home to crabs #16, #17, & #18. When you're done, go upstairs and go to the top floor. One of those upstairs parts leads to crabs #19 & #20. Objective complete.
Brainiac is now here in the level. The final objective is to defeat him! Enter the teleporter. Remember our first glitch? Well we need to do it again. There were 4 entrances in the Thunder Arena and Brainiac is at the only one we haven't been too yet. Once you breach through the wall you'll see that fan and laser again. You need to continue doing all those breaches again. Go past the point where you found the XV12 module and back into the Thunder Arena. When it the Thunder Arena breach through the final set of lasers. When through, take a right and go upstairs. Go into the next room and you'll find Brainiac. We can now attack him. Brainiac's strategy is to shoot his lasers at you and run away when you get close. Punch him several times and he'll go down.
Congratulations! You beat all the playable levels of beta Superman. When you finish this stage you'll be taken to the part where you can save your game, just like usual. Unfortunately once you save your game, the game crashes because there isn't a next level to go to. Give the game a reset, and when you're back at the main menu press C-Up followed by C-Down. This takes you to the credits. You earned it bud! If you're up for more screwing around you can try the unfinished levels.
"This looks like a job for Superman!!!"
Click here to go to page 2!
Written by Kevin Ames
July 6 2013