System: NES Publisher: Sunsoft Developer: Sunsoft
Genre: Action Type: Sidescrolling Platform Circa: 1990
The first boss is a cross between Boba Fett and Bloody Malth...So many enemies in this game have jetpacks...

It's a common thing for popular movies and cartoons to be converted into video games, and the era of the NES was no different. Following the success of the motion picture, Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, came Sunsoft's NES adaptation: Batman - The Video Game. You play as Batman, and you are on a mission to stop the Joker from terrorizing the city. While movie-based videogames are usually quite terrible, Batman is one definite exception to this.
The graphics of this game portray the dark, gothic look of Gotham City very well. The enemies look decent and include robots, ninjas, and strange creatures that leap up and down on you. The bosses look really good, too, even though they're a little small. Some of the bosses look like they could've just been another enemy in the level, but they're still drawn well, and have a good amount of detail. The animation of Batman's walk and wall-spring jump is very good, too. The way his cape "billows" is a nice effect. Even though this game was based on the movie, Batman is wearing the blue costume like in the TV show, rather than the black costume of the movie, but that's probably so that he would stand out against the backgrounds. The backgrounds are dark, and may not look quite as colorful as the graphics of some other NES games, but it fits with the game's dark atmosphere. There are also some rather impressive cinema scenes in-between levels, some of which include digitized images from the movie.
I can't tell you how much I hate these enemies...The infamous wall-spring jump
SOUND: 8.5/10
Sunsoft really had a way of bringing out the best in NES soundtracks, and this game is no exception. They didn't use any music from the movie or any classic Batman themes, but the music they composed sounds very much like "Batman"-style music. It has a good beat, and sometimes it can be dark and haunting. The sound effects are good, too. When Batman leaps, you can hear the effect of his cape billowing. Mostly everything else you hear are punches and small explosions. The only downside of the music is that some of the tunes are repeated, and the music quality is so good, it left me wanting more.
When you press the button to jump, Batman kneels for a split second before leaping. This is a delay that I had to learn to compensate for. Batman also "drifts" a bit when leaping, and it's a little tricky to control him. The wall-spring jump is surprisingly easy to pull off. When you duck down, it seems there's a slight delay if you try to punch immediately, which can be annoying in crucial areas. Cycling through the special weapons is a bit cumbersome, but thankfully, the game allows you to cycle through them while paused.
The cinema scenes are very well-done...Giant electric coils are cool
Batman is based loosely on the Michael Keaton/Jack Nicholson movie. Batman is out to stop the Joker from terrorizing Gotham City. There are some cinema scenes between levels that show the Batmobile driving around or confrontations with the Joker. There are some quotes from the movie included, and much of the scenery came right from the movie, too, such as the Axis Chemical Plant, and Batman's final showdown against the Joker in the clock tower.
Batman offers a good, decent challenge. The first level is not too hard, but after that it picks up a bit. The enemies don't offer much of a challenge until you get to level 3 where there are these huge guys who leap on your head. But the obstacles are far more inventive. There's one level where you work your way through a Power Plant, and you have to leap up platforms while avoiding electric currents. Another level has conveyor belts that send you speeding towards grinding gears. The chemical plant has acid that drips from the ceiling, as well as large pools of it. Some of the bosses are easy, while others can be a real challenge. The only real problem with the challenge is that some areas of the game force you to use special weapons to get through. Your special weapons require power, and if you run out, you cannot use them until you get more power. This is a real problem in Level 3! There is no way that I can tell to beat those leaping guys unless you use a special weapon on them before you get close. If I ran out of power, or if I died later on in the level and had to start over, I was not able to beat them! This meant I'd have to start the game over again. This is a bit unfair, but the rest of the levels were executed much better.
FUN: 7/10
Although Batman fails to truly draw me into its gameplay experience the way many other action platformers on the NES have, it still has a lot going for it. The steady challenge, variety of levels, creative bosses, excellent music, and moody atmosphere make it a very worthwhile game to play. My only real complaint is that there isn't a whole lot of creativity in the enemies. There are far too many that just walk back and forth in a limited amount of space. The game is a bit short, but the challenge level will ensure that you'll be playing it for awhile before you can beat it.
Conveyor belt cliches...The CPU boss

Batman is definitely one of the better movie-based games around. I don't think I could really call it one of my favorite games, but I do think it's above average. If you really like Batman, or you're really into NES sidescroller games, then you may want to check this out. NES collectors should definitely have this game in their collection.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average): 7/10



AddThis Social Bookmark Button Dreamhost