Superhero

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Many IF games have imitated the style of superhero comic books.

Characteristics

  • The PC will usually be the superhero, and have an array of powers (usually with their own dedicated verbs). They will usually not have the massively powerful abilities of a Superman or Green Lantern, since these could wreak unpredictable havoc with the author's gameworld. Powers with broad - but not too broad - applications are the most common.
  • True to the genre, superhero IF is generally focused on conflict with supervillains. Although some involve actual combat, more commonly the player will have to deal with traps, escape imprisonment or otherwise solve object-oriented puzzles.

Classic Examples

Advantages

  • The genre is extremely popular within the established IF audience.
  • Like magic, it provides a good excuse to endow the player with unusual abilities which can be applied to puzzles in interesting ways.
  • There is precedent within mainstream comics demonstrating the great flexibility of the genre's tone - and indeed, IF superhero games have covered the spectrum widely, from goofy slapstick to bleak melancholia and visceral violence.
  • By convention, the superhero genre tends to take place in a world very similar to modern Earth, which enables authors to avoid the cumbersome backstory requirements of other fantastic genres.

Disadvantages

  • While the superhero genre doesn't have a reputation as bad as heroic fantasy and space opera for geekish insularity and low literary merit, it comes pretty close.
  • The superhero genre is a highly visual one, concentrating on colourful costumes and assorted pyrotechnics. Some IF superhero games have used artwork - either in-game graphics or as supplemental feelies - to compensate for this, but text-based IF is never going to be as visual as a comic or movie.
  • The breakneck action that characterises the superhero genre in comics and movies is extremely difficult to replicate effectively in IF. Batman is going to look silly if he spends hours fiddling with soup cans.
  • The genre has been so thoroughly explored in IF already that new examples may have difficulty finding a compelling twist, and will inevitably be judged with reference to established favourites.