It would be nice to say that this game developed by Titus was completed with a better graphic than the one we can see in the screenshots below: unfortunately this has not happened. The bare polygonal models of the scenario in those early images are almost identical to the final version. To be honest, the final version is so much worse than those early screens. In 1999, Superman 64 was released with a pandemic and ugly fog that the player had to see all around the levels. That “fog effect” is a common feature in many N64 games, but it’s really too much in this game and the developers thought to justify it somehow. In the plot of the game, the fog is presented as a weapon created by Superman’s enemies, a lethal gas that surrounded the city. Brilliant!
Certainly at the time of these images, the fog was not yet included in the game and the graphics had a cleaner look that Superman 64 can only dream of. In one of the screens, the light effect was probably created with Photoshop! Breathtaking. Probably these images were taken from a target render, created to show what the game could have looked like.. if it could have been released on the Dreamcast. For sure, the Nintendo 64 was never able to show such a definite graphic.
Yet, if these images can look bad, the final version is even worse. It’s like if Superman 64 was put on sale in a Beta version, without worrying too much about the poor result. We must therefore thanks Titus, for giving us the opportunity to play a beta game in our N64!
It seems that the reason Superman 64 was so bad was because the license owners crippled their creativity and keeping them from releasing the game they wanted to. As we can read at Proto Jon’s Blog:
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…
Jon: Did Superman 64 turn out to be near what your team had envisioned at the start, or was the finished product sidetracked by hardware or other limitations?
Eric: Of course not. It is not even 10% of what we intended to do, but the licensor killed us!
Jon: What content was cut from the game? If you cut a lot from the game, then what were the big things that you wish you could have kept in the game?
Eric: I am not allowed to detail what we had to remove, but it was a lot.
Also, at Rareware Central we can read some interesting info from a beta versione of Superman 64, that… seems to have been better than the released one!
What it really seems like is that Titus were forced to completely remake the game one month before release. There are no rings, none of the stupid metropolis missions exist in the early version. And since the metropolis missions seemed very quickly made, it would make sense that they had to add them in the final stages of development.
A common problem with Superman 64 is how common glitches can be. In this version, glitches do still exist but it’s actually less glitchy than the retail. Also, remember when flying and you’d always get stuck? That rarely happens in this version.
One thing that actually shocked me was how they could remove the mission objectives screen. In the early version, at the start of a mission, text on the screen will let you know what your objectives are, once you’ve completed an objective, the objective screen get’s shown again with a check next to your completed objective. Along with that, you can pause the game at any time to view all your objectives, something Superman 64 really needed.
Kevin Ames also wrote a detailed article on the leaked beta:
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.
Thanks to Celine, Andrew, Zero7, Kevin Ames and Rareware Central for the contributions!