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The Adventures of Batman & Robin (Genesis) artwork

The Adventures of Batman & Robin (Genesis) review

"The feeling, when you want to like something, but can't- it permeates throughout the Batman and Robin experience. It makes you realize how great the potential for the game was, and conversely, how sad it is that it never reached it. "

The feeling, when you want to like something, but can't- it permeates throughout the Batman and Robin experience. It makes you realize how great the potential for the game was, and conversely, how sad it is that it never reached it.

The Adventures of Batman and Robin is a hybrid affair; imagine a blending of the experiences of Vectorman, Gunstar Heroes, and Streets of Rage. Then mix in a few horizontally-scrolling shooter levels. You'd still only be halfway towards understanding the premise behind this tragically promising game.

Throughout the majority of the levels, you assume command of either Batman or Robin, and you march your way rapidly through thug and goon-infested backdrops. Batarangs are at your disposal, as well as punches and kicks for melee combat. The agile superheroes can grab onto ledges above them and jump up, and they can swiftly unleash an effective double jump/flying kick combination with supreme ease.

Combine those above games with a sense of speed and imposing danger. Whereas Streets of Rage was a game of slower, more deliberate pace, Batman and Robin hurls, lobs and throws enemy after enemy at you. Relentlessly, these henchmen and assorted thugs pour in from all sides, consuming the screen and keeping the tempo at a true boiling point. Such a swelling of opposition is frightening, yes, but the control is up to the challenge. The control's fluidity is much appreciated, and in fact, a necessity.

Assuming command of the heroes is excellent; they maneuver with liberal grace and feel tight in their movements. The nonstop jumping and attacking (both with batarangs and in close-quarters) is handled with simplistic mastery by the game's two-button scheme. Truly, The Adventures of Batman and Robin is a game with its mechanics and designs in the right mindset.

The hitch, though, is that it's unplayable. No bugs, no glitches, no slowdown, no flicker, no nothing- none of the usual excuses mire this super-refined effort. This cartridge isn't playable because it is simply too difficult.

Enemies pour in rapidly and incessantly- a good thing, yes- but they never, ever let up. They horde around you and unleash both distance-based projectiles as well as close-range assaults. Enemies fire bullets too low for you to duck under, yet spread out enough to render jumping a suicidal effort. Your power and nimbleness begin to mean nothing as the masses of minions fill the screen. And when you reach a boss, you'll shed tears.

Imagine a typical shooter boss, massive in size and constantly lobbing bullets towards you. Usually, you'd pilot a ship capable of weaving in between such fire; however, in this game, you're Batman or Robin and you have to deal with gravity and such. The bosses' attacks are ridiculous, and in fact, impossible.

And then you get to the actual shooter levels.

Batman straps on his bat-glider, ditches the aforementioned hybrid and heads to the skies of Gotham in these shooter sequences, brilliant in visuals but bastards in play. Enemies hog and crowd your area; imagine a swarm of incoming baddies all practically tethered to you as they jockey for your personal space. Then more zoom in from other sides of the screen. All are firing bullets at you and you can't make a dent in them since your pathetic batarangs are impotent in these scenes. And then the bosses appear again to make things that much more challenging.

It's simply not playable. No way a game this difficult should ever have escaped the eye of testers. No way any of them ever beat the first level; I know I wouldn't have without ridiculous cheat code treachery. No way such a group of paid people could ever let a game like this see the light of day. That is, unless they took one look at this game's undeniable 16-bit 2D beauty and never said another harsh word.

The Adventures of Batman and Robin is an effects-laden visual masterpiece. The entirety of the game is a very impressive spectacle, but the nuts and bolts of that impression lies in its constant pushing of Genesis technology.

Gorgeous linescrolling dominates the scenery of the adventures. Buildings in the background appear to be moved past in three-dimensional shifting. The art style is impressive and very adherent to the cartoon, but the way background objects not only parallax, but feign 3D, marks the masterstroke of the work. The beautiful shooter sequences make use of these effects to make its rooftops sit on buildings that actually stretch toward the ground, then change perspective as you maneuver around them. Further into the levels, the view becomes obscured by clouds, and as they gain density, the effect rivals and perhaps bests the gorgeous swirling flames of Thunder Force III.

Rotation and scaling, although perhaps ''faked,'' bring otherwise unbearable, torturous boss encounters to life. Animation is practically flawless and coloring is appropriately vivid or moody. The first level's street encounter is every bit as memorable as the Mad Hatter's amazing, forward-scrolling checkered plane on which you must suffer yet another draconian boss encounter. The pattern here is that as much as one could ever desperately try to love this beautiful, strongly founded game, it's simply not possible.

No way this game can be beaten, not even the first set of levels. It's not fair and it doesn't even pretend to be; it never throws the player a bone in the form of an easy level or mid-level continues. A 2-life reserve is all you get to battle your way through these murderous marathons masquerading as ''levels,'' and 2 lives is nowhere near enough. You'll burn through your reserve, and then it's back to the start of the level to die some more and repeat the agonizing pattern.

No skill nor practice nor hours devoted will yield efficaciousness; Batman and Robin isn't simply ''hard.'' As sad as it is, in the light of everything you could possibly love about this potentially masterful game, it's simply too outrageously brutal for its own decency.

ethereal's avatar
Community review by ethereal (March 14, 2004)

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