Title : Batman Returns
Publisher : Konami
Genre : Beat 'Em Up
Players : 1 Player
Release Date : 1993
Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $10-$15
I've said it once, and I'll say it again...Michael Keaton IS Batman. I'm going a bit backwards here, considering I already reviewed Batman Forever last month, but you know what, this is what happens when you're going alphabetically off a master list. Regardless, here we go again. Another Batman game.
Don't get me wrong, I love Batman, and I love practically every Batman game out there, no matter how bad they are. Playing as the caped crusader is something every kid dreams of. Tell me he isn't the cream of the crop when it comes to Superheroes. If you disagree, I am open to debate so feel free to comment or tweet me or whatever. Batman reigns supreme.
So here we have Batman Returns, developed by Konami who at the time was the king of beat 'em up games on most consoles. They had a real knack for it, and in fact during the 90's it seemed like most games Konami was pumping out were actually pretty good. As you may have guessed, this game was based on the movie which came out a few months prior. It ceases to amaze me how these companies can pump out games so quickly based on movies. Then again, that's why they usually so damn bad. Rushed development never works.
Quick side bar...is Batman Returns a holiday movie. Debate. Go. (I say no...I don't care if it takes place during Christmas)
Anyway, let's get this brawler under way. I'm in the mood to slap Danny DeVito in a penguin suit.
The game follows the plot line of the movie (pretty loosely, but close enough) as you take on the role of Batman as you seek out the Penguin and Catwoman and all those other clever villains. Of course, you need to battle your way through all the goons first, and I have to say Batman Returns has some of the best minions in the history of Batman films. The Burton designs are duplicated VERY well in this game. Pulled straight from the film.
If there is one game you could compare this to, it would have to be Final Fight. They practically look identical, with their burlier than normal sprites, and the fluid animations. Not that this is a bad thing. Final Fight was absolutely amazing and one of the best brawlers of the retro age. The major difference between the two (besides being about Batman) was that this game actually alternates between a fixed perspective and a depth perspective level. Not sure why they did this...and I'm not sure it works, but whatever. I'll deal with it. But the one thing this game actually excelled at better than Final Fight were the actual combo moves you were able to pull off with Batman.
He is Batman, after all.
You've got your standard attacks which is a basic kick or a punch, and you've also got yourself some grab maneuvers. Cracking skulls has never been more entertaining. But then you also have the ability to implement some combo moves such as flinging a barrage of batarangs or using a grappling hook to jump kick into a group of enemies.
You would think it might be a bit gimmicky, but this is a Batman game and these combo moves actually work really well. It's great how you can actually alternate between all the move sets using a basic "item select" based system. Really makes these moves easy to execute.
I can't really talk much more about the gameplay, as it really is just another brawler starring Batman. But I will say that this still remains one of the best brawlers on the SNES, or any 16-bit system for that matter. The visuals are top notch, the animations are fluid, and the character designs and backgrounds are really pulled straight from the film. Even the music is very Burton-esque. The atmosphere, as a whole, is just incredibly diverse. Konami does a great job of spreading out the designs for each level, and keeping the gamer interested in what he is going to encounter next.
The cut scenes scattered throughout the game are actually admirable, and Konami attempts to do a bit of graphical overload with some of them. It really does an excellent job of pulling you into the game, and hell I won't be ashamed to say that this still remains to be one of my favorite Batman games. Needless to say the newer ones have blown this out of the water, but still you can't go wrong with a little Batman Beat 'Em up.
You've also got some Batmobile levels to add to the diversity...while I didn't enjoy them since they were a downright bore, at least it took away from the monotony of beating the crap out of people.
In terms of difficulty, well you've got your work cut out for you if you decide to go for the highest setting. Even at mid range I tend to get my arse kicked with this game, so unless you're a hardcore brawler, take it easy. The one thing I DO wish this game had, was some sort of co-op mode. However, I don't know how that would have been possible since Batman worked alone in this movie, but brawlers always tend to work best with the introduction of a two player mode.
They should have just thrown Alfred in for good measure. Now, wouldn't that have been epic?
Final Score (out of 5) :
Until next time, keep on gaming!