Retro Redux: Batman Returns
Howdy, and welcome, once again, to another edition of Retro Redux. This week we’re going to take a look at Batman Returns. This game was based off of the Tim Burton movie of the same name and was released on nearly every platform under the sun in 1992. The Nintendo versions of the game were developed and published by Konami and were released in 1993, with Sega handling the Genesis and Master System versions of the game. Back then it would have been a little weird to have a Sega game on a Nintendo console. We’re going to be looking specifically at the Super Nintendo version of the game. This is a side scrolling beat ‘em up similar to games like Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Double Dragon.
Movie licensed games back in the late 80′s and early 90′s tended to be of the side scrolling genre and this is no different. Being on the Super Nintendo, though, this version was not only side scrolling, but also provided some depth of movement as you were able to move up and down somewhat as well as right to left. The levels went back and forth between the traditional 2-D style to the more modern, at the time, 2.5-D style with that added depth.
Batman Returns follows the plot of the movie quite closely; there’s not much deviation from the plot aside from some characters being a bit more powerful than they are in the movie. Characters like the Organ Grinder who were freaked out by Batman in the movies were a little more brave in the game and were featured as level ending bossees. The main baddies you would face in the game were members of the Red Triangle Circus Gang and were different variations of clowns. You had the typical grunt skinny clown, the more beefy and bouncy fat clowns, as well as clowns that breath fire or thrown juggling pins at you. As Batman you had a number of moves at your disposal that you could use to take down the forces of evil. Standard punches and kicks could be combined with a jump to add a bit of range to your attacks. You also had a number of cape based moves that would knock back multiple opponents if you began to get overwhelmed. A quick press of the B and Y buttons would flare Batmans cape and hit anyone within a small distance. You also jump and pull off a cape glide that would hit enemies in the range of Batman’s jump. Of course, no Batman game would be complete without the Batarang and Batman had this at almost all times to provide him with a ranged attack that would stun enemies allowing him to close in and down opponents while they wre dazed. The ability to grab opponents and slam them together to damage multiple opponents would come in handy as you could clear out areas a bit quicker if gang members were bunched together. If you just wanted them out of your way you could also throw enemies into the background. This would also do damage to the background giving you a bit of a destructible environment.
Scattered amongst these traditional side scrolling levels were a small number of levels were you would control some of Batman’s vehicles to take down member of the RTCG. A few levels in there is a chase scene were Batman is behind the wheel of the Batmobile and you had to chase down gang members of motorcycles. These vehicle levels broke up the game play that could have otherwise felt extremely repetitive, which was a common problem of games in that genre.
One of the beautiful aspects of the Super Nintendo were the superb graphics capabilities of the system and this game is no exception. Still from the movie are mixed in during the between level cut scenes are were of amazing quality for a console at the time. The levels themselves are extremely detailed and provide a lot of interactive abilities that could be used to aide in cleaning up Gotham City. The transition of Danny Elfman’s musical score to a home console was brilliant. It’s very easy to recognize the themes from the movie and they’ve held up amazingly well. That goes to show just how good that system was, how well Danny Elfman’s music transitions to other media outside of movies or both.
The boss fights in the game were one of the less excellent aspects of the game. They are by no means bad, but they feel less exciting than the typical beat em up of the rest of the game. Boss’s were in general faster than the average enemy and didn’t go down nearly as easily. This is to be expected, but playing through boss fights they did not seem to take damage right away when you attacked them. It was almost as if you had to find the one attack or weakness that would start off the damage and from there it was cake walk to take them down. Until you found that point in the fight it could amount to a test of your will before you could begin to hurt them.
In addition to the solid gameplay elements, and amazing audio and visual aspects of the game, Batman Returns also featured multiple endings based on how well you did through the game. Getting to the end witout using a continue would give you a truly cinematic ending, that most wouldn’t experience without numerous playthroughs and simply mastering the game. This is a game play element that many games, even to this day, employ to get people to play through a game multiple times. Many games are worth the multiple playthroughs, and Batman Begins is no exception. This is one licensed game I could really get behind and recommend you seek out if you haven’t played through it yet.
If Arkham Asylum rekindled a bit of Batman for you, you really should go back and experience this game at least once. It’s a very solid beat em up, and one that many gamers, even today, could enjoy.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at Batman Returns for the Super Nintendo. If there are any games you’d like to see appear in this column in the future leave a comment down below with your suggestions and they could show up here in the future.