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Batman (NES) artwork

Batman (NES) review


"“Batman” starts off as a fairly neat action-platformer. It’s inspired by the 1989 blockbuster of the same name, which in turn is based on the Batman comic books. Playing the game, you can see the impact of the movie’s gritty, gothic aesthetic. There are lots of dark colors, there are industrial influences in the environments, but for some reason Batman’s cape is blue. I think Sunsoft got that from the comics. "



“Batman” starts off as a fairly neat action-platformer. It’s inspired by the 1989 blockbuster of the same name, which in turn is based on the Batman comic books. Playing the game, you can see the impact of the movie’s gritty, gothic aesthetic. There are lots of dark colors, there are industrial influences in the environments, but for some reason Batman’s cape is blue. I think Sunsoft got that from the comics.

Moving on, the title screen is very cool. Michael Keaton looks super neat in the Bat-Suit, even when he’s down-res’d to a sub-320x240 pixel resolution and four or eight colors. When you push start, the first thing you see is Anton Furst’s Batmobile, and you hear some sort of cool 8-bit march. This is followed by the first level, which is populated with charging grunts, flamethrowers, mini-robots, exploding mini-robots, jet-packed gunners, and even a ninja. The boss of this stage is a rocketeer who zips back and forth while occasionally firing a startling burst of spreaded bullets.

The magic continues into the second stage, which is Axis Chemicals, where Jack Napier became the Joker. There’s new perils: pools of acid, electric conduits, conveyor belts, grinding gears, and clawed sentinels. The music is cool. The beat and melody compels you to charge into the dark underbelly of Carl Grissom’s criminal enterprise. The stage climaxes with a sequence in which you have to systematically disable a mad machine.

By stage three, my enthusiasm started to wane. I was in a sewer, where hopping frog-men seemed to bounce in conjunction with the level’s catchy melody. As I went deeper and deeper, I became less and less convinced that my life would be incomplete if I didn’t finish this game. I started to find myself asking why Batman had three projectile gadgets to switch between, when it would have been more convenient to just have one Batarang, to cut down on having to push the “Select” button repeatedly. The obstacles were becoming meaner. Not impossible, but tiring. The length of the stages combined with the rising intensity and frequency of the challenges wore me down. I felt trapped in this level, desperately wanting to move on to something new.

“Batman” is far from terrible. It is in parts a very good game, with some fun action and platforming beats. If I had the will, the motivation, I could maybe see myself playing it to the end. I could see other people playing to the end. Not me, not now, though. I get my money’s worth with the first two stages, then find myself compelled to watch the movie that the game is advertising. Both products similarly fall short of being compelling, but they shine in certain moments and bring back childhood memories. They’re awfully neat, too.

Rating: 7/10

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Community review by joseph_valencia (July 01, 2009)

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