Batman (Genesis) review
"Obligatory Bat-nah I'm kidding. You ever dance with the devil in pale moonlight?"
Tim Burton's Batman is probably one of my favorite movies of all time. I watched it to death as a kid and as I got older I learned to appreciate more about it and the different aspects of film making and direction. For several years I had always wondered why there weren't that many games based off of the movie but there were so many for Batman Returns but I've come to realize they were a little before my time. More recently, I've started to obtain some of the game adaptations of the movie and play through them. Even still, there aren't as many as Returns but I'm glad to have the chance to play them after so long.
Batman for Genesis, made by Sunsoft is a pretty neat little game. What's really weird about this is that Sunsoft has seemed to have made every copy of Batman for every different system and they all seem to be different games somehow. The other version of note that Sunsoft made is the NES version of Batman, which is a cool but hard game that I'd like to get around to reviewing at some point. Anyways, when you play this game, you can kind of tell it's an early Genesis game, it has all the usual symptoms; Fairly easy, short, somewhat shallow gameplay, what could be considered impressive graphics at the time, and some pretty sweet music.
I heard the Bat got 'em...
One thing has to be addressed before I start, this game is more or less a straight up adaptation of the movie into late 80s very early 90s game form. The only level that doesn't really follow a scene in the movie is the first one where you start out on the streets and you fight guys in the rain. This is very unlike the NES game which takes a lot of liberties but is still a really cool game that's worth playing.
This game is an action platformer, you punch guys, you jump, you can use your grapple, you throw batarangs, but there's also some stages that change up the gameplay. There's two stages where the game turns into kind of a shooter like R-Type or something and you control the Batmobile and shoot cars or the Batwing and shoot down helicopters and stuff. It's really cool and well done, and it serves to change the pacing of the game up which is much appreciated. I kind of wish that there was at least another one of these types of stages in the game.
Combat in the majority of the game is fairly simple, most enemies are easy to avoid and die in one or two hits. You can get Batarang power ups and health. At this point, this is where the game starts to take some hits. Controls are stiff, especially with jumping and that's most likely how you'll die in this game, not from enemies but just not jumping at the right time or missing because Batman's jump really sucks. Boss fights are laughable, there's a boss where you can literally jump over his head when he charges you, hit him from behind and he'll jump back to the other end of the screen and you rinse and repeat. That's a major weakness of this game, it's too easy and I doubt you'd ever see a continue screen unless you're just not a very good player.
That said some of the other miscellaneous problems with the gameplay has to do with some questionable level design in a few instances and the length. Sometimes you'll find power ups in areas that just seem impossible to obtain, like there's an extra life on the other end of this jump, underneath said jump is a death pit, and above you is a platform with spikes underneath. You probably have a 10% chance at best of making the jump and actually getting the damn thing. I'm convinced that these are kind of beginner's traps but oh well you can simply avoid them if you know better. The other issue is length (there's a joke in there...), this game can be beaten in a snap, we're talking like 20 to 30 minutes and that's not speed running or anything, as I am not a speed runner.
I make art, until someone dies!
The absolute best aspects of this game, are the graphics and sound. For an early Genesis game, it's a real treat, as most early Genesis games look kind of underwhelming. Unlike Batman Returns, this game's color scheme and levels actually really match up a whole lot with the backgrounds in the movie. It's mostly dark, and you can see that weird gothic-deco kind style all over the place. Batman himself is actually black instead of blue, or purple, or at least dark grey, whatever it actually matches up for the most part this time.
The sound though, this takes the cake. The music in this game is actually some of the best 16-bit music I've ever heard. Sunsoft is sort of known for having some pretty sweet tracks in their games as the NES Batman also had great music, amongst many of their other titles. I recommend just going on Youtube and taking a listen to some of the soundtrack.
All this taken into account, this game comes up short in the replay department. It's short, so not much of a trip is taken when you decide to pop this one back in after a while, but the ride is enjoyable mostly for nostalgia. Overall this is fun, if a bit crude in terms of gameplay. I'd recommend it if you're a big Batman fan, or a fan of Tim Burton's movie though, easily.
+ Very good graphics and background design that matches with the style of the movie.
+ General game design that follows the plot of the movie without compromising gameplay so much.
+ Batmobile and Batwing stages are really fun and a fresh change of pace.
- Control is very stiff in general.
- Bosses are embarrassingly easy to beat.
- Some of the level design is nonsensical with power up placement.
- While the game is designed well, it's simplistic overall.
- Very short game that can be beaten within half an hour or less.
If you enjoyed this Batman review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!