Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Night Rentals: Batman

    "What are you?!!"
    "Nintendo Hard"
Everything you have ever heard about the difficulty of this game absolutely rings true.  It's relentless.  It's death spikes and tricky wall jumps.  It's everything that comes to mind when you hear the phrase "Nintendo Hard."  Just you and a handful of batarangs to take on the Joker and his minions.  Sure, you can get other weapons along the way, but they aren't the batarang and that's what you'll want to use because of who you are.  Who are you?


So anyway, I remember renting this game multiple times, it was frustrating as all get out, but I kept coming back for more.  Why?  Because it was Batman!



Sorry, as I was saying.  I rented this because it was Batman, and more importantly, this was Sunsoft's Batman and the terror that flaps in the night known as LJN hadn't gotten their grubby paws on the license for the game.  I kept thinking I'd be able to beat, just one more weekend rental and I'd have it!  I'd be the true defender of Gotham and bringer of dark knight justice I was always meant to be.  Well...that sadly never happened.  Even though I never saw the end of the game as a kid, I still loved every inch of that game and never considered it a ruined weekend when I left the rental store.  So how does Batman hold up after all these years?


Curse your solid playability and smooth movement Batman!  I can't blame anyone but myself when I fail to dodge a bullet, don't make a jump, or don't throw a punch fast enough.  Sunsoft was usually reliable when it came to control, and I'm happy to say I remembered rightly that this was no exception.  You punch, duck, throw weapons, and wall jump using a smooth, responsive system. That said, those wall jumps are still darned difficult to do and even average enemies will give you a workout trying to dodge their attacks as you hop from beam to beam.  I guess if it was too easy to do criminals wouldn't fear The Batman as they do. 

Gameplay and Graphics

Here comes the Bat!
You grind your way through five levels of the game from the Axis Chemical Factory to the final showdown with the Joker atop a bell tower; this game did all it could to make you feel like you were in the movie.  It's nice to see that unlike LJN, Sunsoft knew people wanted to play a game that reminded them of the actual movie, rather than some random mad dash through the streets of Hill Valley chucking bowling balls--but I digress.  Yes, the game has punishing difficulty, and yes, you will find yourself feeling thankful for the endless continues.  That said, it was still fun because you were playing a Batman!  I know it may sound like hyperbole, but sometimes I feel like after this game there weren't any truly solid Batman games until 2009's  Arkham Asylum.

Just like the movie!  Well, pretty much.
As far as graphics go they are everything you want from a Batman game.  The backgrounds are dark, but not to the point of invisibility.  The animations are smooth and when you throw a punch its nice to see the Dark Knight doesn't wimp out.  They are nice solid jabs.  If you look closely you can see even Batman's cape does a slight flutter as he moves along.  The cutscenes feature actual images from the movie which are done fairly well for the 8-bit era.  I know some might complain about the fact Batman wears blue, but he still wears the bat-suit and it has all we have come to expect from the Batman, pointed ears and all.

Music and Sound

This music could easily go on you iPod as great workout music. And why not?  You could call it the "Bat-workout" and feel that much cooler.  There are some nice brooding tunes for the cut scenes, and the overall tone of each level's music has a nice dramatic feel.  It clips at a pace without ever descending into accidental peppy, happiness.  No happiness here, this is BATMAN!!!!  Where even when you die you get dramatic, brooding music:

Yeah.  You'll be hearing this tune many, many times...

There isn't too much I can say about the sound other than it's what you come to expect from Sunsoft.  They don't rely on the usual, or at least not totally.  The punches, explosions, and the general enemy sounds are well done and have a deeper sound, which to me fits well with the game.  Why do deeper, darker sounds fit so well?  

Because it's BATMAN!

Overall Impression

This was such an awesome game, and as I said before, I never regretted renting it despite the sometimes frustrating difficulty and my inability to complete it over the course of a weekend.  When I first started building up my NES collection as an adult, this was one of the games I sought out first.  The wall jumps were just like remembered, the odd little floor cleaning robots took just as many hits as I remembered.  Even the death music (which I heard just as many times as an adult as a kid) was a welcome sound to hear once least it was the first 50 times I heard it.  So have I beaten it yet?  Have I wall-jumped my way to success and proven myself worthy of the mantle of the Bat?


But I don't mind one bit.  You know why? 

Because it's Batmaaaaaaan!

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