Batman Returns

Reviewed by Stan Stepanic, Posted on 2012-02-08


Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami
Release Date: 1993 Available On: NES

The beat-em-up, a favorite of mine in the NES era, and one with fond memories for countless others. Remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game? Well, there were several goodies like it, including this little known beauty that's not even that rare, Batman Returns. Now, for some reason, this game gets pounded on a lot, and though it's perhaps not up to the par games like TMNT2 are swinging, it still has a lot to offer; pretty good graphics, decent sound overall, and a hell of a lot of challenge.

Graphically, Batman Returns is arranged like many other Konami beat-em-ups. It follows a format similar to the above mentioned turtling of the ninjas, so you can expect pretty much the same. Repeating character types with palette color alterations to let you know they attack differently and endless attacking. The backgrounds are pretty linear, but there are occasional sections of horizontal scrolling. The environment definitely feels like the movie, so they have that down, and the enemies look pretty solid. The only problem is the animation; sometimes it feels like they cut corners on sprite movement. Batman's punch, for example, consists of only two frames, and it looks very unnatural. But, Batman Returns throws the player some surprises now and then like multiple stages-within-stages, and aspects of the background that come into play. It feels a bit sparse at times, but it definitely isn't Color Dreams material. And the cinematics are pretty long, so you get a lot of cool stuff to look at.

Musically, Batman Returns doesn't offer any memorable tracks that make you want to don a Collegeville costume and run around until you get arrested, but they do their job. The atmosphere feels like plenty of other quick-release Konami games like some of their Ultra titles, but it's far from unbearable. The major tracks repeat quite a bit, but they're long enough that it's not too irritating. The sound effects aren't very numerous either, Batman Returns tends to feature the same few samples used for pretty much every attack. There are some additions here and there like the motorcycle sounds and some effects later for bosses, but basically it all boils down to a little more than a handful. Used where they need to go, but at times it's like hammer a round peg into about a million square holes. It gets in there, but it's a tight fit.

So, as you already know, Batman Returns is a beat-em-up, the arcade style bashfest first made popular by games like Bad Dudes and Double Dragon. So you have your typical button arrangement, Batman has a few attacks at his disposable, the jump kick being the classic catch-all, a few power ups, tons of different enemy types, and bosses. First cool thing, this game is unique to the NES, this isn't a port like TMNT2, and it wasn't released for anything else. Second cool thing, play occurs through multiple formats, a car chase and levels-within-levels mixing up the actions. Third, though it's going to be a fault to some, it's hard as hell. This is easily one of the most difficult games of this genre I've ever played. Check some out:

So the difficulty's definitely there, but man, it is ever there. Batman Returns takes a large amount of practice, and though the bosses are sometimes exceptionally difficult, figuring out their patterns and how to best attack is definitely an option. And, more importantly, bosses can be approached in several different ways. It's not the button mash some people seem to believe it is. Plus, it features a number of secret power-ups and a good bit of variety. The attack scenes can get tiresome because there're just so many of them, but the bosses present great challenge, especially that damn organ grinder, so experienced players will definitely be paying attention. Don't expect to sleep to this one.

In terms of creativity, Batman Returns offers a number of interesting features while sticking to the basic beat-em-up format. Thus, it's rather easy to sit down with it, and you don't even need to read a manual to do it; the gameplay is clear from the get-go. It's like being born with all of your memories, nothing to learn! This is also something of a bummer, but there are a few notable features (mentioned above) that mix up the typical features of the genre. So, it's not entirely original, but it's not empty.

Batman Returns isn't a single-sitting game. That's a good thing, plus it's bolstered by a sleek password feature for almost every level, so you can come back to it when you want. However, it should be noted, if you want to be a real beast and beat it to get the best ending, you have to do so without using a single continue. Sounds easy? Try it. Anyway, Batman Returns excels in the game length and replay factor column, no doubt about it.

Batman Returns receives a lot of unwarranted hate. Once you understand how it works, which takes all of five minutes maybe, it's really an enjoyable beat-em-up with enough features to keep fans interested, draw in less-experienced players, and eventually challenges even the most efficient of gamers will have a tough time with. It's definitely not perfect, but its flaws are easy to overlook.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 6.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7.5 out of 10
Written by Stan Stepanic Write a User Review

Reviewed by Stan Stepanic