Review by Flyersfreak85
"A Penguin for Mayor? Well, can't be as bad as it sounds...right?"
Introduction: My first memories of Batman came in the last 1980's when I enjoyed watching cartoons of the Dark Knight to go along with his comic books that I seemingly had handed to me. I also fondly remember, when I was in Kindergarten, having a Batman lunch box. Those were the times, but they got better: you see, when I was ten I had my birthday party at McDonald's, and it just happened that a girl who I thought was pretty cute had bought me the Batman action figure as scaled from the movie Batman Returns. I guess it helped I kind of had a crush on her, and thought she had a pretty nice butt (yes, I was an advanced pervert at the age of ten).
What does that introduction have to do with the game I am going to review? Well, nothing I assume, unless you wanted to know how I first found out about Bruce Wayne's Superhero persona, or about a girl I had a crush on most of my school life who never knew it. Batman Returns for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is, on the surface, a beat-em-up style game, but it takes on many other elements as well. When games are made off of movies, they usually tend to suck (and we can thank Acclaim for that one, pretty much) but since Konami was handling this game, it was bound to be good. And boy was it ever.
Gameplay: Okay so, those who watched the movie before playing the game will know what the storyline focuses on, and for the most part Konami made the game seem pretty authentic to the source material of the movie. The Penguin, alias Oswald Cobblepot, wants to become the Mayor of Gotham City by any means necessary, and it's up to the Caped Crusader to stop him, all the while you have a certain antagonist (Think: it rhymes with BAT) trying to side with the small dwarf with an umbrella.
The game itself features seven levels of action packed fun, and while the bulk of it is side-scrolling beat downs, other stages require technical gadgetry to complete and you even get to play stage five in the Batmobile! Batman just doesn't throw punches at aimless hoards of villains either: every stage except for stages five and six will require you to use the Batmurang to thwart villains, namely while fighting through the shopping mall or the department store that was burning to the ground.
During the course of the game itself, you get certain power-ups that help aid you in your quest to beat the Penguin. Little bats with DEEP RED EYES will flutter in the air, revealing a points power-up, two sized vital hearts, or the Bat Test Tube which, when used with the L or R-button and hitting the X-button, omits a seizure inducing white flash across the entire stage, doing major damage to everyone on it. Batman also can use the Batmurang or his bat sling, which will propel him across the stage and does damage to anyone in his way. Finally, Batman can use his cape as a weapon by pressing Y and B buttons at the same time, sort of like the Final Fight desperation move.
Enemies are laughable: I admit, this is the Red Triangle Circus we are dealing with, but I don't think the joke was intentional per say. Common enemies include a skinny clown (some versions throw dynamite or juggle bowling pins) a fat clown, a knife thrower, a fire breathing clown, a bazooka wielding clown, a sword swallower, and a big headed thing that rides around on a motorcycle. Some bosses are generic, except for the two fights with Catwoman and of course the Penguin, resulting in the final showdown.
---Gameplay Grade: 9/10
Controls: The controls are pretty well mapped out, but I can't help but feel like sometimes they come off a little bit stiff, and another minor qualm is the fact that Batman seems to have a really short wingspan for punching. That aside, the buttons match up with certain moves, such as choosing the grappling hook, the batmurang, punching, blocking, and so on. Not really much to complain about there.
---Controls Grade: 7/10
Graphics: I think the graphics are masterfully done, as Konami really paid some in-depth detail to how the game should look, albeit in a darker and grittier tone. Batman looks exactly like he should with little to no qualms of evasion, as do the Penguin and Catwoman. The clowns and the generic enemies all look quite detailed as well and wouldn't be confused with anything else that they shouldn't be. I think another cute thing about the game is the background interaction: you can throw enemies into glass windows (and they break) poles (they bend) park benches (which splinter) and walls (they just make anticlimactic thud noises).
---Graphics Grade: 8/10
Sound: The music in this game is of high orchestra quality, seemingly like it was done by the like of Beethoven, or Mozart, with tension building sections fitting the fights you partake in: Particularly speaking though I have always been a stickler for the first two stages as both are well done pieces of music fitting their stages. The sound effects aren't as vast as they could be and some could be more varied, but they work for what you would expect in the game, what with THREE women all using the same generic scream (Catwoman, the woman who is Max Shrek's secretary, and the Ice Princess).
---Sound Grade: 8/10
Challenge: This game CAN be tough, especially in the Batmobile stage (where you can't screw around: lose one life and you start the stage ALL over again) but it's not, say, Batman Forever tough. Come to think of it, I don't think MANY games can be that tough or that annoying, but I digress.
---Challenge Grade: 5/10
Final Thoughts: Batman Returns was a pretty solid move, made into a pretty solid game as well. It helped that Konami got tapped to helm this game, because I could only imagine what Acclaim would have done if they had made this game. You know what, I guess things were better left off the table, seeing as to how Acclaim got the Batman Forever game.
---Overall Grade: 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/20/12
Game Release: Batman Returns (US, 04/30/93)
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