((Apologizing in advance for terrible quality if most screens, not many available on the net))
Does anybody else remember this little series from the 2000's? It was an online, interactive, choose your own adventure series starring The Man of Steel. It was rendered with 3D models, quality above PSX though nowhere near reaching PS2, was fully voice acted and featured branching story paths, some of which could end with Superman either failing to save someone/everyone, or being killed.
The series was available on Warner Bros. Website, and was created by Brilliant 3D (if you even remember what that is, bravo). It was broken up into chapters, though there was only one 'arc' that had multiple chapters dedicated to it, while each chapter itself was further broken up into (usually) five episodes. This 'arc' was a series of chapters heavily based in time travel, and the threat of a new, time traveling villain named Dyschord, who attempted to stop his reality from coming into existence but began destroying various 'timelines' as a result. As Superman (and very occasionally as other characters from the Superman mythos), you must make important decisions on how to handle situations, from the best approach to attacking a foe, deciding who to trust in dire situations, or even simple things like how best to avoid someone learning your identity while still getting the job done. Not all options were 'choices'; sometimes you would get a prompt to either continue the story, or view more information based on something that was just introduced in the previous scene. These 'bios' were fourth wall breaking commentaries by the characters themselves explaining the nature and brief history of the topic at hand. These were clever and for some people important; this series was heavily based in the DC Comics of the time, and would bring in organizations and character not often seen outside of comics at the time, such as Project C.A.D.M.U.S., and characters like Wave Rider (if you don't know who the hell that is, don't worry, most people don't. After the six chapter arc was finished, each of the five chapters after that (plus two short, single episode chapters) followed a singular plot based around one threat, though not many more were made after the Dyschord storyline.
Now, I was between 11-13 when I played this series when it came out, but I remember truly falling in love with the concept of handling a powerful character such as Superman in such a way. I still felt engaged and entertained, but rather than struggling with a frustrating combat mechanic or insipid objectives (*cough*rings*cough*), you had to focus more on the challenges that pose the greatest walls for someone as powerful as this; choice and critical thinking. The voice acting could be cheesy at times, and the plot would go into the ridiculous at times (even for Superman), it really did seem like one of the smarter ways to handle such a character in an interactive medium. And even though it was marketed to children, the content could be dark at times, featuring the deaths (though never truly violent) of many characters when wrong choices were made. Nobody was safe, and that's what made the stories that much more intriguing to me.
Brilliant 3D was also responsible for multiple choice adventures featuring Xena, Ace Ventura, and even Kiss (...yeah...), though I never played any of those, as I believe those were all disc based and required payment (I could be wrong on this, so if anyone knows better please chime in). I was only interested in Superman, and for the brief time episodes were made, I had a blast. Unfortunately it didn't last long, as Brilliant 3D disappeared off the face of the Earth, and the Multipath Adventures along with them. There is still a link to the old, UK version of the site on the net, though the actual downloads are inactive, and many sites report the B3D Projector (the program needed to run these games) as spy/malware in recent years, though I have yet to confirm whether this is actually true or not or if it's simply certain, non official versions that are.
From what I could gather, only the first chapter, Menace of Metallo, was released in disc form that could be bought through their website, while the rest were online only. The links to each episode appear to be dead, as the B3D Projector attempts to download them but ends with a 'page not found' within the Projector itself. I have seen torrents on the net that claim to have all of these, plus Brilliant 3D's other series, though these are all several years old and the validity of these claims could not be established. As far as I can tell, the series is dead and buried, long forgotten, and no longer obtainable, which is sad, considering the literal hours of time I spent going through these adventures.
More than anything, I hoped to stir up some possible memories for others who may have experienced these lovely little tales as kids like I did, just to see if maybe I'm not alone (most people I try to tell about this have no idea what I'm talking about, which I find to be a shame). Sure the game probably wouldn't have aged well by today's standards, the voice acting is probably cheesier even than I remember, but it was fun, and kept people on their toes, and made my little 11 year old brain constantly wondering if I had just made a decision that would be the end of not just one of my favorite heroes, but possible the end of Metropolis, or Earth, or reality itself!
Thinking back on it, I realize how smart it was to take Superman in this direction, and wonder if the future of Superman video games couldn't take some notes from this series. Not saying that they should make a PS4/X Box One Superman game that is literally just an interactive movie, but maybe something more in line with the recent Telltale games such as Wolf Among Us (also a DC property). Something that focuses more on plot and choice rather than button mashing and less than stellar flight controls. Imagine going to the scene of a robbery or other crime as Clark Kent with Lois (and maybe even Jimmy) at your side, using your hearing and X ray vision to investigate for both the Daily Planet story, and for clues to eventually stop the perp. Or imagine a flight based chase sequence in the same style as Bigby's chase of Dee, where quick thinking is the key rather than meters telling you how close you are to the target and the game over screen telling you that they got away. For that matter, imagine other heroes in this style.
Point is, this game was fun, and finally figured out the proper way to handle a character as powerful as Superman. It may be dated now, but with modern production values and game design, something like The Multipath Adventures of Superman could be just what The Man of Steel needs. If not, then at the very least, some kind of re-release of this game would be wonderful. I know neither will happen, but one can dream, at least.