“He’s totally new. Totally tough. And he’ll stop at nothing to make sure justice prevails!” - back of box
With movie franchises like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” both seeing game releases on the NES in the late eighties – SunSoft grabbing the rights to Batman, for a game based on his new motion picture, was really no surprise.Batman: The Video Game is supposed the game based on the 1989 blockbuster movie. The one problem I have with this – the game has almost nothing to do with the actual film. There are only 5 stages, some of which make no sense at all when in relation to the movie – Underground Conduit, Laboratory Ruins, what? Thankfully, the streets of Gotham, AXIS Chemical Factory and Gotham Cathedral (3 memorable movies locations) make up the rest of the levels.
Even worse then the stages are the boss battles – every one besides The Joker is awfully designed and make no sense. Firebug and the Electrocutioner? Where is Bob the Goon or any of the badly dressed Joker thugs from the movie? I know SunSoft had to fabricate some of the story and characters for the release of the game, I just think there choices made for Batman were bad. Regular enemies – robots, jet-packed ninjas and mutants also make absolutely no sense.
There are some positives about Batman: The Video Game; his wall jumping is fun, even if it is completely ripped off of Ryu Hayabusa and the Ninja Gaiden series. The control could have used some tightening up and is too clunky, especially for the amount ridiculously hard maneuvers you must make throughout the game. Oh, I’m sorry, I was supposed to be making good points about Batman: The Video Game…the game also has some cool cut-scenes in-between levels.
In the weapons department, Batman is given only three – The Batarang (I won’t explain), the Spear Gun (one powerful shot), and the Dirk (sort of a spread shot). Sadly no grappling hook like in the Sega Genesis version (shown on the right in the picture below).
For health, Batman has a puny eight hit life bar. It is refilled by recovering hearts dropped by enemies you’ve killed, but hearts aren’t dropped nearly as often as they should be. Enemies also drop pellet items for replenishing ammo which is shared for your three weapons (some use more power-ups then others) but for the majority of the time you’ll be punching with Batman.
On the graphical side of things, they stay true to the overall average feel of the game. Batman is made up of two shades of purple. Enemies look just as bland as our hero, as do the the stages. They are all very dark. I know its a Batman game but some levels seem to have nothing going on at all. Maybe Batman fighting his way through the art gallery while Prince plays in the background would have made for a good stage - anything to add a little more color would have been nice. The game does have some pretty good music though.
In the video below you can check out all of the stages and types of gameplay found in Batman: The Video Game. Also shown is every one of the games bosses, including the final battle with the clown prince of crime himself – The Joker. I have been trying to reach him for about 18 years – with a little help from a code – I’ve finally beaten Batman: The Video Game and seen The Joker. Yes I cheated, I don’t care. I love a challenge but this game is frustratingly hard. Death on any stage results in starting the level from the beginning which eventually, ruins the already average experience. Anyway watch the end of the video to see Batman actually toss the Joker from the top of Gotham Cathedral, its great.