Review by Skyrax
"A surprisingly good game!"
It's strange how virtually every single Batman game of the 16-bit era, especially those of the movies, simply involved ol' Bats walking from left to right beating up every thug in his way. I say it's strange because Batman rarely ever beat up these any people in one stretch. I mean, does this guy go into the bad guy neighborhoods just to find saps to beat up on? That said...
Batman Returns is a one player side-scroller based on the movie of the same name. 7 levels long, and packed with thin clowns, fat clowns, bikers, sword-swallowing acrobats and machine-gunning organ grinders.
The game was very well designed for its day. Batman and his foes are well-animated and large, and the Batmobile scenes are excellent. The color palette was perhaps a little too drab but that is only keeping in theme with the movie's direction.
Nice remixes of themes from the movie, very crisp and clear. Level 2 and Level 5 are especially cool. The sounds the characters make however, is slightly muffled. Batman doesn't say much when fighting, and he only seemed to have two sounds: a grunt when he was hit, and a ''whelk''-like sound when he lost a life. The generic thugs were essentially mute. On the upside, some samples are clear, especially the Penguin's laugh.
The layout is simple, yet complex. You have an attack button, a jump button, a special attack button, and a guard button. Several other moves can be performed by combinations, which run the gamut from cape spins to a special attack that either kills or causes massive damage to bosses. These can be rearranged to several preferences, so it shouldn't be hard to pick up.
The game incorporates a variety of in-game moves to spice up the fighting. You can create combos and delay hits to maximize effect. You can use the background as a wepaon, hurling foes into lamp posts, windows and such. Various enemies exhibit various weaknesses and strengths: a biker clown may be a tough foe to dispose of with punches, but he falls easy prey to a single batarang. Likewise, a thin clown may be immune to damage from a batarang, but good ol' fisticuffs will suffice nicely.
Certain levels break up the fighting doldrums by throwing in a little platforming. Batman uses his grappling hook and batarangs to dispense justice whilst swinging from window to window above Gotham City. A little tricky but rewarding.
You also get to control the Batmobile and careen down the streets of Gotham City, blasting clowns.
The bosses are varied and pull directly from the movie. While some may not have been real threats to Batman (StunGun Clown for one), they are still cool to see, and every so often you are rewarded for trying something new. If you try to attack the StunGun Clown with plain batarangs, it's a lot harder, and longer. But if you utilize a move from the movie (grapple the wall directly behind him) you will take him down a notch by almost halving his HP!
On the downside,it can be a bit overwhelming due to the numbers and type of enemies in the game. Cheap shots abound whilst playing, shots that can only be avoided by memorizing the level (case in point: Penguin in Level 4). The default difficulty may be hard for some, and for those I suggest not trying Mania. The only change in difficulty is there are less health powerups and harder, much stronger enemies (on Mania a basic Clown can take off half your health with his basic combo!) If you become adept at the game, Mania can be finished on one continue (that's 7 lives), but for many the replay isn't that high.
Replay Value: Moderately Low
It's a one-player game, and there's nothing else to do after you finish than try a harder level. But for those perfectionists, it is a worthy challenge. You have to finish it on Hard to see a real ending (Mania earns you the best), but it's nothing worth the time to see. You can't save, and there is no password, so it's a long haul.
All in all, it's an excellent game based on the movie. It's an excellent fighting game and a good use of the license. And besides, where else can you grab dynamite off a clown and chuck it at a free-wheeling biker?
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 04/23/03, Updated 04/23/03
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