It's An 8-Bit Bird... It's A Blocky Plane... It's... It's... Atari 2600 Superman!
In 1979, the Atari 2600 wasn't quite the mega-hit we all think of. That would came in 1980 with the release of Space Invaders for the console. In '79 the system was only two years old with about 30 available games (yes, I'm including Fun With Numbers and Basic Programming in that count). For the first time that year, there was other console competition in the form of Odyssey and Intellivision, so it was time for Atari to soup up their offerings with a touch of comic book superdom.
Atari "Superman" plays a bit like the classic Atari "Adventure", also released that year. There's a multi-screen "world" that you can sort of "explore". Duck into a phone booth to transform into Superman and fly around looking for the pieces to rebuild the Metropolis bridge. Get nailed by a Kryptonite satellite (anyone looking for a new band name?) and only Lois Lane will restore your powers.
The mechanics of the game are a little confusing (echoes of "Adventure" again), but you have to admire that Superman is so iconic, he can be meaningfully executed in very low res 8 bit graphics. It's interesting also to note that this may be the first video game that licenses something other than an existing arcade title (can any of you think of earlier examples?). The modern video game eco-system is lousy with movie tie-ins and licensed characters, and it all started with that little blocky Superman from some 35 years ago. It's also the first video game with a "pause" function built in.
I was going decry the challenge of Atari Superman as being a little too simple for today's tastes, but a friend of mine who never plays video games played it through for an hour at a party. I'd never seen her so happy (nor had I ever seen her punch the leg of anyone who walked between her and the TV, but that's another story).
If you don't feel like hunting down an original cartridge and the system, you can find the ROM easily enough to plug into your favorite Atari emulator. Or for the truly uninspired, you can get a glimpse of the game in action (objects flicker when there are too many of them on-screen) in this play-through video I found on YouTube.