Review by xenodolf
"Solid beat 'em up action slightly held down by often awkward controls and unnecessary driving and platforming sections."
After a couple of platformer titles on various consoles, Batman comes to the SNES/SFC bringing beat 'em up game-play. After being limited to the arcade scene, the Batman brawling mechanics are welcome on this and several other home systems. Taking elements straight out of the motion picture, Batman Returns dives right into the slug-fest action I've been critiquing for a couple of weeks on Gamefaqs now. Onto the review..
The visuals are pretty good for a 1993 title, featuring heavily detailed sprites for the enemies and crisp background environments. Animation is fluid, with clowns bouncing around and windows or railings getting broken. I was very pleased to notice that an enemy that throws its juggling pins at you actually loses one pin every time it attacks. That is a nice change from baddies who seem to carry infinite knives or whatever projectile weapons on them. Strangely enough, Batman himself seems to be drawn in a different style than everything - either that or his dark coloring soaks up all the fine lines. Either way, everything here looks very nice and this is probably the strongest area of the game.
The music from the movie is presented here pretty faithfully. The explosions from rocket launchers, shattering glass, and other sound effects are above average. I really like the loud and furious sounds of combat though, with Batman delivering bone-breaking punches and slams. Overall, this category is above the norm for the genre.
I'm pretty generous in this area of my reviews, but Batman Returns had some very annoying controls at times. Even with multiple button function schemes, I had a hard time using some of the moves. The move in particular that bothered me was using the grappling hook properly, as I could only get a decent swing out of it like 30% of the time. Although it was pretty pointless in combat, several of the platforming segments required you to use it fluidly. They should have fine tuned that instrument better or left it out of the game entirely.
The beat 'em up action was very impressive in Batman Returns. You had two special moves - one which could be renewed by finding capsules in breakable objects and the other which typically took some of your health. The environments were destructible, allowing you to smash clowns into window displays, against ceilings or onto railings. Enemies could hurt one another: either by shooting rockets into their buddies or if you destroy a motorcycle around a group of on-foot baddies. This made the battles more realistic, and probably would have given this category a 10/10 if it weren't for the other aspects of the game. A few levels in you had to jump around a bunch of window ledges with your grappling hook, which is unreliable more often than not. I lost more lives falling to my death than getting pummeled, and that took the steam out of the game a bit. There's also a somewhat basically driving level where you had to shoot several hundred skull-bikers and avoid their kamikaze tactics and grenades. I wish the game-play would have remained 100% beat 'em up, because that area functioned the best.
Replay value 4/10
Unless you're a hardcore Batman fan, you probably won't be pulling this cartridge out very often. It's only one player, so there's not even the choice of character or joys cooperative fighting. I wasn't expecting a versus mode or anything, but this game does come off as a little skeletal in this department.
Despite the hiccups in game style and functioning, Batman Returns is still a pretty good beat 'em up. The Batman games kind of went downhill from here, so your best bet is to pick this up for $10 or less if you wanna play as The Dark Knight. Overall - a good brawler that needed to perfect what it had rather than expand to include platforming or driving elements.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/18/07
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