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Batman Forever (SNES) artwork

Batman Forever (SNES) review

"At first glance, Batman Forever probably seemed much more impressive than it actually is. They had the swinging commercial with the catchy Real Game Begins jingle airing at the time, which could easily lead to you believe that this game could capture the experience of being Batman in it's entirety, as well as accurately simulate reality in a mere 16-bits. Fortunately, we know better today, so the game doesn't result in utter disappointment. "

At first glance, Batman Forever probably seemed much more impressive than it actually is. They had the swinging commercial with the catchy Real Game Begins jingle airing at the time, which could easily lead to you believe that this game could capture the experience of being Batman in it's entirety, as well as accurately simulate reality in a mere 16-bits. Fortunately, we know better today, so the game doesn't result in utter disappointment.

As at least one of two members of the Dynamic Duo, you work your way through a series of levels that are each loosely based on a scene from the movie. (Story accuracy is pretty much thrown out the window, but there probably wasn't anybody expecting or demanding the alternative.) Batman and Robin each have minor differences in their functionality, and have gadgets unique to their own. Logic would have figured that they were drawing from the same pile, but as you’ll soon find, logic has nothing to do with this game.

The action here is rather slow, especially since the game seems to only be able to handle a maximum of two enemies onscreen at any given moment. And to make things worse, not a single character in the game has the ability to run. (Ironically, the game’s startup sequence depicts the silhouettes of Batman and Robin running toward the camera each time.) A loading period also occurs between each room, which could definitely stand to be shorter. It's not too long, but definitely enough to be noticeable. During these periods, a message appears each time that says, "Hold On". There's no fun to be had during one of interludes, but that's perhaps the least irritating way to punctuate the silence.

It’s difficult to say whether the graphics are good or bad, but they very much seem like a dubious attempt at photographic detail. Batman looks decent enough, but Robin clearly appears to be a sad fellow in spandex. Perhaps they were going for his "Flying Graysons" getup, which in all fairness did make a brief appearance in the movie, but it's still not the most practical for battling evildoers. The questionable choice of crimefighting outfit is especially apparent when you see him fighting alongside the Dark Knight, he who carries the latest in high-tech crime-biting gear.

Before each level, you get to select two gadgets to assist you in your crimefighting duties. Considering how he's a superhero who at one point in time considered "Shark Repellent Spray" to be standard equipment, one would have figured Batman's utility belt could carry a little more than that. At least, you get to bring your trusty grappling hook with you; while it unfortunately doesn't allow you to scale the sides of buildings or disappear out the window while the Commissioner's not looking, it does let find and access the copious amounts of secret rooms in the game. You'll likely end up launching your long, strapping grappling hook at everything in an effort to get one of these juicy secrets to spill out.

In addition to his lack of storage capacity, Batman also suffers from the fact that most of his gadgets range from "horribly ineffective" to "mildly useful". About half of the gadgets essentially have the same function; namely, immobilizing an enemy long enough for you to give them a good kick in the face once, and the rest of them seem to do nothing more than make your opponent slightly bothered. It would have been really nice if the game required you to properly use gadgets to ease passage through levels, or at the very least do something. The heat ray they have in stock promises "frying", but in actuality delivers little more than a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Likely due to laziness on Acclaim's part, the fighting system resembles that of the Mortal Kombat games. The uppercut even sends them flying. As a result, the game plays out somewhat like Mortal Kombat: Mythologies, only not half as funny. The system isn't awful, but it's not particularly well-suited to Batman, either, since he's typically the kind of fighter who quickly knocks out his opponent in an explosion of onomatopoeia so he can move on to the next one, rather than waste time by dueling a foe one-on-one when a bomb's set to detonate in five minutes. Most of the time you'll end up resorting to roundhouse kicks and uppercuts to dispatch enemies, anyway.

The use of real-life actors to fulfill roles was an interesting choice, considering how the game plays out like a cartoon. Batman and Robin have special powers stemming from their gadgets, which makes sense. But for some unfathomable reason, they chose to balance this by giving each enemy special powers and abilities that cross the boundary far into the land of Ridiculous. Take the masked thug's ability to surf on his chainsaw, for example. Or the Riddler thugs's endless supply of holes, which are kind of like the ones they have at the Acme Corporation, that he can leave on the ground and possibly have you fall into. One can't even begin to imagine why the inmates of Arkham Asylum have ultimate control over the power of electricity. In retrospect, claiming that the game was "real" may have been a poor choice of words.

There’s also a training mode available that pretty much works like a fighting game in effect, and it works pretty well. There, besides Batman or Robin, you can also control holographic versions of any of the enemies present in the standard game, and battle other holographic opponents in one-on-one, two-on-one, or two-on-two matches. Given how the game’s engine was put together from bits and pieces of another fighting game to begin with, in many ways it ends up playing better than main game. Of course, this mode doesn’t have the benefit of an actual story, and there probably isn’t enough variety among the selection of fighters to maintain interest for long. Training isn’t likely to help you get better in any way, but it’s still more of an addition than not.

Batman Forever isn’t that bad, although it’s doubtful that this was the end result of a Batman game made from scratch. It’s best not to think too much about the fact that you're actually supposed to be controlling Batman. Occasionally, you might be able to find a few brief moments where you can actually believe it.

disco1960's avatar
Community review by disco1960 (February 13, 2005)

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