- Sega Master System
The Bat, the Cat, the Penguin -- and the Nintendo game! Konami brings the Caped Crusader's second silver screen adventure to the video game screen in Batman Returns for the NES. Konami and this hot license sound like a great formula for an instant 8-bit classic. Unfortunately, both the film and the game get mixed reviews.
Visions of Thugs Dancing in Weir Heads
It's the night before Christmas, and all through the town, things are really hop-pin' when Penguin's gang brings the house down! The Mayor plans a nice, traditional, tree-lighting ceremony, but the Red Triangle Circus Gang has other ideas in mind -- namely chaos! They pop out of a giant gift-wrapped box, snare the Ice Princess, and spread fear into the hearts of the crowd. Looks like a job for the Dark Knight.
Familiar Crime Fighting
Batman Returns is a somewhat satisfying, side-view, action celebration that puts up a good fight, but shares many traits with Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In fact, put a black mask on Leonardo, exchange Shredder for the Penguin, remove the second player, and you've got the basics for this game. Unlike the 1990 Sunsoft game, this entry focuses less on Batman's nimble moves, and more on beat-em-up street brawling.
You, as Batman, get an inconspicuous arsenal to flush Penguin and declaw Catwoman. Your main bandit-beaters are your fists. You can also activate two utility belt weapons: Batarangs, for long-range attacks, and the Grappling Hook, to hoist yourself up to ledges. Additionally, you get a block move for defense, a slide maneuver, and the Cape Spin attack. Each use of the Spin depletes your lifeline, but automatically nails villains in the vicinity. Sound familiar, TMNT III aficionados?
- If you're down to one life unit, go nuts with the Spin attack before you bite the Bat-dust. For all the predictable Bat-weaponry, the character control in this game fairly glides. In the heat of battle, pressing Select to switch between Batarangs and the Grappling Hook is a pain, but otherwise the 'Man is a smooth mover.
- Hold Down and tap A to slide rapidly. You'll take out ground-based attackers faster than they can retaliate.
Guarding Gotham City
The Caped Crusader traverses six Bat- Stages to skin Ms. Purrs and put the Birdbrained One on ice. Most of the game play is side-scrolling fisticuffs, but you also get some Bat-vehicle action.
In Stage 1, you accost the Circus Gang in the main plaza. The action here is a warm-up for later levels. At area's end, you meet the first in a long line of bosses, the Tattooed Strongman.
In Stage 2, you play with a new fiendish friend, the Catwoman, who doesn't spare the whip. Scaling the side of Shreck's Department Store is your first opportunity to implement the Grappling Hook.
You finally get a shot to save the Ice Princess in Stage 3. You fight your way to the top of a skyscraper, and then fend off a double dose of bosses. Even if you emerge victorious and you saw the movie, you know the Princess' sad fate and the resulting Bat-insinuations.
- Use your Grappling Hook to ground toy helicopters in the Department Store.
- In Stage 3, grapple into secret rooms to record an incriminating Penguin conversation. You need the tape to dear the level.
Stage 4 finds Batman chasing a runaway Circus Train, on foot and in the Bat-mobile. The Red Triangle's bent leader, Penguin, kidnaps all the firstborn kiddies in Gotham. The Dark Knight must save them. The Batmobile level is a cool diversion from the main action.
- Motorcycle riders bail from their bikes and try to cling to the Batmobile! Shake them off, or you'll lose energy.
Penguin does himself one worse in Stage 5 by arming a hodgepodge collection of penguins with bombs. Batman slinks through the streets and alleyways to find the remote control. Then that directs the Penguin's demolition efforts. He confronts the Penguin's rubber ducky mobile.
The grand finale comes in Stage 6, the subterranean Arctic World. Penguin's domain is frigid, but you chill out in a sleek Batskiboat level, where you snag bonus Bat icons for life and the pursuit of 1-ups. Finally, you return to ground combat and battle the Penguin.
- From a safe distance, toss Batarangs at the Duck Vehicle. When it rolls near you, slide away, turn and fire.
The crooks in this game are an average-looking, unimaginative assortment. J You'll find stilt walkers, handgunners, c strongmen, and other crown fools of I crime. As a gang, they're a menace to society and your chance of survival. This game's a Bat-challenge, but passwords make it playable.
Dark Knight, Dark City
Batman lives his night life in the shadows of Gotham City, and the same applies on the NES. The dark, color-deficient graphics are sharp and distinct, but not even close to an 8-bit masterpiece. The occasional cinemas are there, but don't pop off the screen like a VCR tape. Tunes-wise, the music and sound effects could be from any Konami action game.
He'll Get Us Next Time
In a year of few 8-bit standouts, Batman Returns is a good choice for fist fighters and Robin-wannabes who aren't expecting anything extraordinary. However, the crime stopping is not up to par with an innovative original. The Dark Knight is invited to return to the NES again someday, hopefully with a few more tricks up his Bat-sleeve.
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