The player(s) takes control of the DC Comics character Superman, who must repair the bridge destroyed by Lex Luthor, capture Luthor and his criminal underlings, enter a phonebooth to turn back into Clark Kent, then return to the Daily Planet in the shortest possible time. To slow Superman's progress, Kryptonite has been released by Luthor. If hit by Kryptonite, Superman loses his abilities to capture criminals and fly. To regain them, he must find and kiss Lois Lane.
Three of Superman's powers are used in this game: strength, X-ray vision, and flight.
The game can be played with two players. The player using the left joystick controller will have priority over the left and right movement of Superman, while the player using the right controller will have priority over up and down movement of Superman.
Superman was reviewed in April 1980 by Video in its "Arcade Alley" column where it was highly praised as "usher in an exciting new era for home arcades". The reviewers suggested that "put simply, there's no other video game remotely similar to this one", comparing the graphics and gameplay as akin to "the complex simulations that have entertained computer freaks for the last decade or so". The game was predicted to be a hit among the "true arcade addicts" and to find a place in the "Video Arcade Hall of Fame".:18 Covered again in Video's 1982 Guide to Electronic Games, Superman was praised for "surprisingly good graphics".:52
Norman Howe reviewed Superman in The Space Gamer No. 31. Howe commented that "this is the best Atari game I have seen yet. It's playable, enthralling, and has excellent graphics. If you don't want to buy the game, at least try to find someone who will let you play it. It's very good."