You have to give Atari huge credit for publishing not one, but two Superman games inspired by the animated series. They followed in the wake of Titus Superman 64, and at a time when the series had been off the air for over two and a half years.

Superman: Countdown to Apokolips is a prequel to 2002’s Superman: Shadow of Apokolips for the PS2/Gamecube. The story deals with the planet of Apokolips reaching out to Intergang with the intent of providing them weaponry from their planet to take out Superman. While the game is considered a prequel from a story perspective, it came out six months after Shadow was released in stores.

CTA is an action game played from the three quarter or “isometric” perspective. The player has access to the majority of Superman’s powers including flight, super speed, heat vision and freeze breath. The main gripe I have with this game is the perspective that it’s played from as it’s not really fit for an action game. Most other games played this way are RPG’s like the MegaMan Battle Network series on the same handheld that don’t require active combat. Attacking enemies in CTA can be difficult as it’s hard to line up Superman with an enemy which could’ve been fixed it there was some type of lock on function, but unfortunately that is not the case. The way the controls are laid out has the L button to used to hover and the R button activate super speed on the ground and flight in the air. This also brings up the issue with the games controls when played on the superior GBA SP. You can’t toggle flight, you have to hold the button down and holding two triggers down which frankly hurts to do the way the handheld is designed.

The game itself is a little on the easy and short side. There’s a scoring component of the game where you rank higher if you refrain from using your heat vision. Using your melee strikes does make the game more challenging, but it’s way easier to just use your heat vision from a distance. If the developer wanted to make players change their tactics, they could’ve made enemies impervious to that attack, put a cool down meter on the ability, or have unlockables for people who score higher. With none of these things in the final product, you’ll end up sticking with the heat vision for your primary offensive attack.

countdown to apokolips screen shot
Objectives for the game are rather simplistic as well. You hit select to bring up your map, you fly or run all over the map and mostly just kill enemies. Some of the boss fights are pretty fun, like the Livewire fight where you have to use your freeze breath, while others like Kalibak are simply avoid and shoot affairs.

In the end there’s not much to say about CTA. It’s an average game that will be forgotten quickly after you play it with no replay value. However, it is leaps and bounds better than the next Superman game that was released on the GBA…


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