"SuperHero is the best 3-D game we've ever seen," says the blurb on the back of the pack. Bear in mind, though, that the quote is from Codemasters themselves. SuperHero isn't bad, but no way is it the best isometric 3-D effort ever; even Ultimate's Knightmare and Gunfright, on which it's most closely based, are better, and they've just appeared on a greatest hits compilation with several other excellent titles.
The trouble doesn't lie in the graphics, which are by the excellent Bernie Drummond (Head Over Heels), or in the game design, by David Darling and Mark Baldacheck. It's not even in the dreadful cover illustration, all wonky perspective and ill-proportioned limbs. It's actually in the screen handling, which is very slow and jerky, especially annoying when you're moving from one chamber to another and the game holds you up for a moment while it fills in the contents and background of the new scene.
The backgrounds, though, are excellent; weird and grotesque carvings, strangely futuristic machinery and a great selection of monsters. The plot's the usual thing; you play an immortal warrior, challenged by the gods to a series of puzzles. As you move from chamber to chamber you must first seek out a number of gifts which will help you to enter blocked-off chambers; a pair of flying shoes, a magic sack, a boomerang warhammer and a mystical helmet which entitles you to more free gifts (a bit like collecting petrol coupons).
To help you out further, you can also obtain objects from Traders - small scuttling creatures with floppy ears. Run into one, and a trading menu comes up, allowing you to buy extra lives, paralysers, Mercury's shoes (a short-lived speed-up), keys to teleport devices and clues to where to find further objects. You can also gamble with Traders.
You can also buy ESP activators, which, in the presence of ESP orbs in certain rooms, point you in the direction if the nearest Guardian Spirit. You must capture all five spirits to defeat the five guardians, and each time you find one you are thrown into the Dead Zone, where you have to steer clear of some particularly nasty monsters until you can find your way back to the main chambers.
The puzzles in the maze are of the usual pixel-splitting kind; avoid the exploding pyramids, figure out a way over the booby-trapped floors, and negotiate paths over piles of blocks and obstacles. Some of the monsters, such as the savage bulldogs, are very good, while others like the energy balls are average. That just about sums up SuperHero: good in parts poor in others. If you particularly enjoy isometric 3-D arcade adventures, you won't regret spending £1.99. Otherwise, look for something more original.
Reasonable isometric 3-D romp let down by poor scrolling.