Once upon a time, multi-platform games actually meant different, unique games. It was uncommon to see games released on multiple platforms at all. In the case of this review, different games by different companies were released for different systems, though all based on the same movie, Batman Returns.
The PC version (by GameTek) would have been a below average detective game even without awful, boring action sequences that you only watch. The Genesis version (Sega) is pretty good if you don’t mind outrageous difficulty and a lack of plot. The NES version would arguably be the best version if it weren’t for a difficult mystery that has no place in a beat-’em-up that you’re required to solve to see the whole game. The Game Gear version is the most mediocre of them all.
The SNES version is the subject of this review. It’s probably the best of them all, albeit derivative of Final FIght. Still, give credit where it’s due. This is a solid beat-’em-up and Batman game.
Plot: 7 out of 10
This game does a good job of using cutscenes in the intro*, between levels, and at the game’s end to tell the story of the movie. Actual quotes are used that fans of the film will recognize instantly.
The only real problem is that although the intro and advertisement of this game confirm Catwoman’s importance to the story, in the actual game, her two battles with Batman are reenacted before she just mysteriously disappears, never to be mentioned again. The tragic ending of the movie, sadly, is not here.
*Like many old games you have to not do anything for awhile after turning the game on to see this intro.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
This game looks great for the SNES. These programmers have the dark, gloomy atmosphere of The Dark Knight down to every character looking just like they do in the movie. The only problem is the crude imposing of character stills from the movies onto whatever background they programmers decided to use that we see in the cutscenes.
Sound: 7 out of 10
The music is recordings of Danny Elfman’s awesome score for the movie and come about as close to the real songs as the SNES’ limitations allow. Some voice acting is included, though, and it’s not nearly as impressive. Much of it seems forced.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
This game has gameplay schematics similar to Final Fight. Instead of a flat side-scrolling terrain, you can move up and down to maneuver into the best position to attack. You can do jumping attacks, punching-kick combinations, move in close to headbutt or throw the target, or throw a Test Tube to knock out all nearby enemies.
The controls handle pretty well, but the lack of uniqueness compared to other 2D beat-’em-ups cost it a point or two. If the lack of freshness leaves the gameplay less than classic, it’s still quite classic.
Challenge: 6 out of 10
Whereas the Genesis version seemed inaccessible to all but truly elite gamers, this one is fairly easy most of the way. While some enemies do hit hard, they’re easily outsmarted and not very fast. Still, the fairly creative variety of enemies do allow for fun throughout the game.
Overall: 7 out of 10
Not a great game, but an enjoyable one. Fans of the movie will probably like this game even more than most. Just don’t expect a true test of your skills.