Retro Review: Batman Returns
Platform: Super Nintendo
I’ve played a number of Batman games over the years, including the very first Batman game on the ZX Spectrum to the more recent Batman: Arkham VR on PlayStation VR. You can check out my thoughts on those particular adventures by clicking on the links above. One of my all-time favourite Batman games however has to be Batman Returns on the Super Nintendo, so check out the video below to see what I thought.
In some way, shape or form Batman has been part of my life from a very young age. I loved reading the comics when I was a kid and this has continued into my adult life with the excellent graphic novels from the likes of Frank Miller and Alan Moore.
I’d imagine that most people would have seen the ‘kapowtastic’ Adam West version of Batman from the swinging 60’s. Although the TV show is a world away from the gritty Batman we know today, I absolutely loved the colourful innocence of what I was watching. Who can forget the time when Batman had a shark attached to his leg and he fought it off using ‘shark repellent Bat spray’?!
For the record I really like Michael Keaton as Batman even though his choice for the role was marred with some controversy. I remember watching an interview with Keaton who told a story that some people actually burnt effigies when he was announced to play the Dark Knight! Although Batman almost took a back seat to the villains from the Tim Burton movies, he is still one of my favourite actors to don the famous cowl.
And then we get to the Joel Schumacher movies and boy could I write a lot about them! I suppose if I’m being kind, Batman Forever, along with Batman & Robin, at least had a camp factor that was reminiscent of the TV show. That is generally as far as the positives go for those movies and although the mid to late 90’s was a tumultuous time for Batman, at least some good came out of the disastrous Batman & Robin. However, it wouldn’t be for a few years until we got to see The Caped Crusader back on the big screen.
I’ve been a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s work ever since I saw the excellent Memento and then Insomnia, so I was very excited when it was announced that he would be the next director to resurrect Batman. Whereas the villains in previous movies tended to steal the show, Nolan’s movies made Batman and Bruce Wayne the focal point which actually made you care for the character. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fantastic performances from the bad guys, especially Heath Ledger as The Joker, but Nolan’s movies always felt like an ensemble cast bringing their A game to the table. As such, Christian Bale is now the definitive Batman for me.
I’ll be perfectly honest and say that I don’t really care much for Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman and found Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice incredibly tedious. I haven’t bothered seeing Justice League which tells you something and to be honest I’m not sure what the future holds for Batman. Maybe it’s time that he takes another break from our screens which may help to rejuvenate my interest?
Anyway, before I hear you crying, “holy smokes Chris, this is supposed to be a videogame review, not a movie review”, let me tell you about one of my favourite entries into the Batman gaming world.
Batman Returns is a side scrolling beat-em up from the wonderful Konami who were specialists at making this type of game. I recently wrote about the fantastic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, and Batman Returns is another superb game from this developer.
There were many things that impressed me about the game but what stood out most was the attention to detail and obvious love for the subject matter. The makers clearly did their homework and studied the movie very closely ensuring that every pixel resembles what was shown on the big screen.
It’s fair to say that everything in the game looks absolutely stunning from the characters themselves, to the snowy streets and environments. They have nailed the look and feel of Batman and it was a real pleasure beating the crap out of the numerous enemies that were attacking me. Speaking of enemies, there are plenty of different bad guys which are all taken directly from the movie. A little touch that I loved was seeing a sword swallower pull the sword out of his mouth and attack you. It’s things like this that make Batman Returns such a brilliant game!
As you would imagine the game plays like any other side scrolling beat-em up but again, there are things that make the game a joy to play. This includes being able to grab enemies and throw them against a window resulting in it smashing, or grabbing two enemies by the head and knocking them together.
The music is some of the best I’ve heard on the Super Nintendo as it features the superb Danny Elfman score from the film. The beautiful music really helped to make the game feel like an extension of the movie.
The only real downside is a few slightly dodgy platforming sections and a couple of tough boss battles with Catwoman, but this didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment.
Batman Returns on Super Nintendo is an incredible achievement and huge credit has to go to Konami who did an amazing job creating one of the best beat-em ups released on the system.
Graphics: There is a stunning level of detail in the game which still looks absolutely beautiful. 9
Sounds: The classic Danny Elfman score features heavily and it sounds wonderful. It is quite simply some of the best music I’ve heard on the Super Nintendo. 9
Playability: There are plenty of moves at Batman’s disposal and the game is not only satisfying to play but also a lot of fun. 8
Re-Playability: I play Batman Returns every few years and it never fails to entertain me. 8
Overall: Batman Returns is a stunning game and excels in every department! It remains one of my favourite Batman games to this day and I highly recommend you give it a go, especially if you are a fan of The Dark Knight.
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With)