Recently, a game system designer talked about her experiences with one of their most cherished unfinished projects, a Superman game that was being developed by Factor 5. Her story gives us a look at what could have been a video game focused on superpowered brawls against some of the Man of Steel's toughest enemies.
In a Twitter thread, game systems designer Salvatrix explained that she worked as the lead designer on a Superman game codenamed Blue Steel at Factor 5, a studio that worked on games such as Turrican, the sound compression technology for Pokemon Stadium, and the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games. However, due to the Great Recession, Factor 5 wound up closing their doors, and Blue Steel, which was just about to shift from prototype to full production, never saw the light of day. Salvatrix said that she has worked on several games that went unreleased, but Blue Steel "is the only one I mourn to this day." She admits to not being the biggest fan of the project when she was first assigned but wound up deeply liking it after saturating herself in the Superman IP and establishing gameplay pillars themed around what would be fun to play.
Salvatrix describes the game as being focused around super brawls as seen in the cartoons, providing two older videos showing clips from Justice League Unlimited to show the tone they were aiming for. These would be the sort of aerial battles in big urban environments where buildings get smashed, combatants throw heavy objects at each other, and Superman battles some of his toughest foes, such as Livewire and Darkseid. He would battle these characters and their minions with gameplay features such as a "build-up" meter and a "wind-up" charge, which would let the player rush their target with a wound-up punch while charging through any cars or buildings in their path.
As for the environments, they were based on a mix of the Superman animated series and the early 20th-century artist Hugh Ferriss, creating a city environment with a mix of elevated highways and air traffic. The early environments look very blocky, but that was intended because at the point the project was at, the team was focused on "core functionality" over having the environments looking nice.
Given that foes such as Darkseid, General Zod, and Pandemon would have been in the game, many people may have wondered where Lex Luthor, possibly the most iconic Superman villain, would be. Salvatrix says that he wouldn't be a main character for one of the game's 3 story episodes/arcs, but he would be making an appearance in his power suit. Instead, he would've been a playable character in the game's planned online 1v1 multiplayer.
Blue Steel would have been released on the Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
Hattip to MP1st who's reporting brought this to our attention