Sunday, 2 August 2015
Game Review of the Week - Batman Returns - Super Nintendo
I have been trying to think of a game to review all weekend and for some reason I just couldn't think of any games that I felt like talking about. So I sat down in front of the TV, turned on Netflix and did a roulette spin (I close my eyes and randomly pick a movie) and my favorite Batman movie starts playing, Batman Returns. Everything about that movie is just the perfect representation of the Batman universe for me. But we'll save that discussion for another time. As the movie was getting to it's first action scene, when all the clowns start destroying Gotham the first level of Batman Returns for the SNES pops in to my head. I'm not an overly religious person but I have no doubt it was divine intervention that entered my world at that very moment. Not only did I get to watch an awesome movie, I also had a great game lined up to play and review afterwards. So let's get started.....
That darkness amplifies the chill of the falling snow. A shrill scream pierces the cold as we look upon the Cobblepot household. The parents horrified by their disfigured child's appearance and behavior threw him and his carriage into the Gotham river. The carriage floated down the storm drain and ended up in the arctic world, part of the old Gotham Zoo. There it was carried off in to the darkness by huge emperor penguins... 33 years later... Christmas is approaching in Gotham City but repeated sightings of a strange penguin creature have been nagging the metropolis if late. The mayor is addressing the crowd in Gotham Plaza, completely unaware of a huge red gift box that is slowing moving towards the crowd. The box bursts open and weird members of the Red Triangle Circus Gang careen through terrified masses.
And so the game begins.....
I've said it before and i'll say it a million times more. When it comes to 16-bit Beat 'em Ups the Kings are Capcom and Konami and Konami's Batman Returns hold its head up high and stands proud among the others. OK, so it's no Turtles in Time and it's only one player but as far as one player Beat 'em Ups go it's a solid game. There are seven levels in total with a very low resolution still taken from the movie and added in to the game as a cut scene with dialogue in between each level. But let's remember, this is 1993 and seeing an actual scene out of a movie in your video game was pretty sweet back then, and to be honest to this day still puts a smile on my face. Anyway, back to the levels themselves. Each level is your basic left to right side scrolling Beat 'em Up with a boss at the end. The levels will start to feel a little repetitive as the scenery and color pallet doesn't really change and the enemies are recycled A LOT! But the good news is that the bosses offer a little more variety and will actually make you realize that you need to learn their patterns if you want to defeat them, especially in the later stages. When you reach level 5 you will be treated with a pseudo 3D stage very similar to Batman Returns on the Sega / Mega CD. When comparing the two the Sega version outshines the SNES level in every way, but in saying that. It is certainly a welcomed change in the SNES version especially when carpal tunnel sets it from button mashing for 30 minutes straight.
VIDEO / AUDIO
It's dark, it's dreary, it's a little bleak, but last time I checked we were in Gotham City and not in Willy Wonka's Factory. So even though the environments don't exactly boast excitement, they are exactly what they need to be in this game. On the plus side, your characters' sprite and enemy sprites are huge and very well detailed.
The soundtrack to this game is actually quite impressive. It might have a very mono tone to it but it's got that cinematic movie score composition and amps up at the perfect moments. You are going to hear Batman kicking the s*** out of a lot of people for a good solid hour and even though the effect doesn't change all that much throughout the game, it's a satisfying sound that for me never gets old.
This Konami game actually has more than 3 buttons that are used throughout the game and even has a 'Guard' button which I always forget is there until it's too late. But with other buttons like 'Item' and 'Test Tube' there at your disposal this is still a simple two button Beat 'em Up at its core, and really that's all you need. One thing I did find interesting but could never really get the hang of was the Grappling hook swing. By pressing 'Select' you can cycle between your personal 'Bat' items in your utility belt and one of them is the 'Bat' Grappling Gun. It allows you to swing from one side of the screen to the other and kicking any enemies in to the dirt that are in your way. It sounds very useful but like I said, I could never really find a specific use for it therefor never really getting the hang of it. But hey, that might just be me.
Batman controls very similar to the way the characters out of Final Fight control. Which is a little odd as one is Konami and the other, Capcom. It's certainly not a bad thing, in fact I would say it's a good thing as I always felt Capcom spent more time developing the characters mechanics and movements than what Konami did.
As I said earlier, this is no 'Turtles in Time' but as far as one player Beat 'em Ups go, this is actually a really good game to play on your own if you just need to switch the brain off for an hour or so. Or maybe you secretly might put on your Batman costume and take on the role as the Caped Crusader and protect Gotham city from the evil Penguin and Catwoman. So, whatever it is that you do on your own, this is a darn good game to accompany you.
Until next time..... Stay Retro.