Superman 64 Prototype

This beta was released recently by NESWORLD, providing an earlier version of the infamous Superman 64 game. The build is different to the retail game. While you can complete the final level, this beta is incomplete because it crashes after saving at this point. The game's coding lists some sixteen "episodes" although there are only known seven levels. On the RareWare Central website (see link below), Torrentstorm also notes that there were to be sixteen levels in all.



Firstly, don't ask how I did this. I think it was trying the Level Select cheat seen in the final game, but it could also be a glitch. Needless to say, I uncovered what seems to be a full level select menu. Rather than just going up to sixteen levels, I used Renegade 64 to monitor the values and it went up to a hex value of 15. Unfortunately, some of these extra levels crash the game, while others are just repeats of the first seven levels. SubDrag over at the NESWORLD forums uncovered some codes which allow five extra beta levels to be played. All of the levels in this build are very similar to those seen in the retail version, albeit with glitches and very different arrangements of enemies and mission goals. Nothing new there then.

Game Plot

Rather than Lex Luthor kidnapping Superman's friends and imprisoning them in a virtual world, the beta version focuses on Brainiac and other villains attacking Metropolis. Torrentstorm provides the following description from the game's box:

"Lex Luthor and Brainiac have joined forces and paralysed Metropolis with a deadly Kryptonite fog. Metallo is on the rampage and Lois Lane has been kidnapped. And if that weren't enough, LexCorp has just announced the release of the LexoSkell-5000, a technology advanced battle suit that rivals even the powers of Superman. How will Superman save the day? It's up to you, because you are Superman."

The following text is from the game's coding, including newspaper reports (dated Sunday 6th September 1998), mission objectives and, if present, completed objectives:

Mission 1

We are getting reports of missile attacks on Metropolis' ambulances by a gang of Dark Shadows. We can only pray that Superman can defeat this gang before any ambulances are destroyed!

Why the gang are attacking the city's emergency vehicules is unknown, but it is possible they may be attempting to draw our Man of Steel into a trap...

RESCUE THE AMBULANCE

DEFEAT THE SHADOWS


Mission 2

Last minute edition!

Daily Planet photographer, Jimmy Olsen, has been kidnapped by Dark Shadows! He is currently being held at gun point in this paper's underground parking structure.

His life is in danger, only Superman can save Jimmy before it is too late!

SAVE JIMMY OLSEN

STOP THE DIFFUSION OF KRYPTONITE GAS

THANK YOU SUPERMAN! I THINK MAYBE YOU SHOULD STOP THE GAS DIFFUSER NOW? METALLO MENTIONNED THEY HAD TO LIFT IT UP TO THE MID LEVEL AND HE WAS BLAMING LEXCORP R&D AS IT SEEMS TO WORK CORRECTLY ONLY IN VERY HOT AREA. HOPE THIS WILL HELP YOU! HURRY UP NOW, TIME IS LIMITED!

WELL DONE! TO FREEZE IT WAS A SUPER IDEA!


ALL KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS STOPPED


Mission 3

Jimmy Olsen is free once more, thanks to Superman!

But while safely delivering Jimmy to the surface, Superman apparently glimsed that super villain, Darkseid, lurking in the basement level of this very building. As reports come in of strange gas emissions, we wonder if the kidnapping might just have been the opening gambit in a maneouver to trap Metropolis' caped defender.

STOP THE KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS

BEAT DARKSEID IN COMBAT


ALL KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS STOPPED


Mission 4

A Lexoskel 2000 has been hijacked by a Dark Shadow and is rampaging through Metropolis Central Metro station! Control cables have been severed by the berserk machine and the trains can no longer be stopped! Only Superman can defeat the Lexoskel and rescue the hundreds of commuters trapped in the trains!

GET TO THE STATION

DESTROY THE LEXOSKEL


Mission 5

That strange, deluded creature, Bizarro, is once again causing havoc in our fair city.This time he has "liberated" a cargo of Rhinorobots, virtually indestructable cybernetic animals,which are now running lose around downtown Metropolis.

The authorities warn that these machines are highly dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.Once more we must count on the help of the Man of Steel to make our city safe again.

DESTROY THE RHINOBOTS

BEAT MALA IN COMBAT


ALL RHINOROBOTS DESTROYED


Mission 6

STOP THE KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS

DEFEAT THE METALLO


ALL KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS STOPPED


Mission 7

FIND THE XV12 MODULE

DESTROY THE BRAINIAC'S ROBOTS

FIND AND DEFEAT BRAINIAC


ALL BRAINIAC'S ROBOTS DESTROYED

Characters

While the retail version does include a number of bios for the game's characters, this one has a lot more. Screenshots of these are available on some other websites. The beta version character list is:

Bizarro
Brainiac
Clark
Crabe
Darkseid
Hamilton
Imperbaz
Impergun
Jaxur
Jimmy
Lexoskel
Lois
Luthor
Mala
Mercy
Metallo
Parasite
Perry
Rhino
Robot3
Robot4
Shadow Walkers
Superman
Trirobot

Not all of these appear in the beta game. So it may that some, such as Lois Lane, were planned for later missions. Here are the character biographies:


Superman

Known as the Man of Steel, Superman is the world's greatest super hero. Protecting the citizens of Metroplis, the last son of Krypton will stop at nothing to defend his beloved new home. Superman possesses the ability to fly, has superstrength, superspeed, x-ray and heat vision. Only the rare radioactive substance Kryptonite can instantly weaken Superman and cause him serious harm


Clark Kent


Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent, works as a reporter for the Daily Planet. Clark is a gutsy, hard-boiled journalist who always digs deep in his quest for the truth. He specializes in stories that exposes the sins of society and champions the cause of the common man. Despite being one of the Planet's top reporters, Clark takes pains to keep a low profile and stay out of the spotlight.


Lois Lane


The Daily Planet's star reporter, Lois, is a savvy, stubborn newswoman. She is calculating and courageous, always willing to take big risks in the pursuit of the ultimate scoop, a practice that sometimes gets her in very big trouble. And when that happens, she'll need Superman to save her.


Jimmy Olsen


He is a sharp, cool urban kid, and Superman's pal. As a freelance photographer for the Daily Planet, Jimmy pursues big stories as vehemently as Lois and Clark. He is a techno-geek and an expert with computers and, of course, cameras.


Perry White


Though he now sits behind the Daily Planet's editor's desk, Perry White was one of the Planet's all-time great reporters. Now, as managing editor, Perry is the heart and soul of the publication, which serves as the city's eyes, ears, voice and conscience.


Shadow Walkers


Based on Lexcorp robot research, these Cybernetic soldiers were created to execute the underhanded deeds of Lex Luthor, no questions asked. Although they are not very strong, they are excellent marksmen and totally loyal to Lex Luthor.


Parasite


A chemical accident permanently transformed Rudy Jones into an energy parasite, one who must regularly drain the life force from another living being in order to survive. When he drains his prey, Parasite not only takes on that person's energy, but their knowledge, memories, and any skills or powers they might possess.


Lex Luthor


Lex Luthor is the undisputed master of Metropolis and lord of all he surveys. Employing two-thirds of the city's work force, Lex can command its patrons to carry out even his most sinister of deeds. In his mind there is no good or bad, except what is good and bad for Lex Luthor. But the one thing he craves above all else is putting an end to Superman.


Brainiac


More concerned with saving himself than aiding his Kryptonian creators, Brainiac fled Krypton on the hour of that planet's greatest need. He then spent his time traveling to other worlds, stealing their technology and leaving their planets in ruins. Now on Earth, Brainiac has finally met a formidable foe, Superman.


LexoSkel-5000


The ultimate battle suit, the LexoSkel-5000 can fly and boasts an incredible arsenal of weapons including lasers, bullets and missiles. Lex Luthor created it to defeat any formidable opponent. But that was before Lex met Superman!


Bizarro


Using a stolen strand of Superman's DNA, Lex Luthor developed his own "Superman", a prototype for a line of super-guardians available to the general public. Unfortunately for Lex, it did not work. The cloning process was unstable and the Superman clone mutated in form and mind into a grotesque parody of the Man of Steel dubbed a "Bizzaro" by a horrified Metropolis.


Professor Hamilton


The brilliant Professor Hamilton is general director of S.T.A.R. Labs. Being a Nobel Prize winner many times over, Hamilton has developed much of the ultra-technology that makes Metropolis a true city of the future. He's a close friend of Superman's and has created the special supersuits that the Man Of Steel uses on missions in outer space or under the sea.


Mercy Graves


A tough young woman with a checkered past, Mercy Graves serves as Lex Luthor's personal body guard and chauffeur. She uses a rough, street-form of kick-boxing as her preferred form of attack, and can take anyone in one-on-one combat. She is also an expert with most forms of hand-held weapons and has no problem with using them when she has to.


Metallo


Lex Luthor's plan was to place John Corbin's human mind inside a super-strong Kryptonite-powered android body. In this new form Corbin could battle Superman to a standstill, then finish him off with a blast from his Kryptonite "heart". But once inside the android body, Corbin discovered he could no longer touch or taste. He went mad, tearing away his synthetic skin and vowing his revenge against the Man of Steel.


Mala



Jax-Ur



Rhinobot



Crabe



Shadow Walkers



???



???



???



Gameplay

The actual gameplay is very similar to the final release, but the controls are easier to use, with fewer glitches.



However, it is common to get stuck inbetween parts of a level or on the outside, with no way in. Only the Level Select cheat works, making it difficult to progress through some levels without power-ups.



One real pain: Brainiac's spider robots, which infest the final level. If they get hold of you, they take off a chunk of health and you can get stuck in a loop where you lose all your life before you get a chance to move. I got past these critters by using corner bugs, where the robot gets stuck and you can get close enough to actually hit the thing. Without this glitch, landing a blow on one of the spiders is down to pure luck, as the collision detection is variable at best.



Despite these issues, bosses can be really easy to defeat. Once I found him, Brainiac went down after five hits. No super powers required.

Reconstruction of Original Game

This combines the 7 playable levels from the beta with those from the final game (which have corresponding incomplete levels in the beta version). It still does not bring the final total to the 16 levels mentioned in the game's coding. The order of the final game has been followed to position the imcomplete levels.


Mission 1

RESCUE THE AMBULANCE

DEFEAT THE SHADOWS

Main Enemy: Dark Shadows


Mission 2

RESCUE THE DAM WORKERS

DISARM THE BOMBS

Main Enemy: Mala


Mission 3

FIND CLUES ABOUT THE LOCATION OF LOIS LANE, JIMMY OLSEN AND PROFESSOR HAMILTON

Main Enemy: Parasite


Mission 4

RESCUE LOIS LANE

DEACTIVATE KRYPTONITE

STOP LEXO-SKEL 5000 ASSEMBLY LINE

Main Enemy: Metallo


Mission 5

SAVE JIMMY OLSEN

STOP THE DIFFUSION OF KRYPTONITE GAS

Main Enemy: Dark Shadows


Mission 6

STOP THE KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS

BEAT DARKSEID IN COMBAT

Main Enemy: Darkseid


Mission 7

FREE PROFESSOR HAMILTON

TRAP PARASITE IN THE FORCEFIELD

Main Enemy: Parasite


Mission 8

GET TO THE STATION

DESTROY THE LEXOSKEL

Main Enemy: Lexosel 2000


Mission 9

DESTROY THE RHINOBOTS

BEAT MALA IN COMBAT

Main Enemy: Mala


Mission 10

STOP THE KRYPTONITE DIFFUSERS

DEFEAT THE METALLO

Main Enemy: Metallo


Mission 11

FIND THE XV12 MODULE

DESTROY THE BRAINIAC'S ROBOTS

FIND AND DEFEAT BRAINIAC

Main Enemy: Brainiac


Other Stuff

There is definately a debug camera mode in the game, which allows you to move the camera around the entire level. The game does have a multiplayer mode, which is of limited use. Other options may yet come to light.

Links

Torrentstorm's review of the Superman 64 beta.
Multiplayer Mode
Superman Prototype Analysis
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