Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: Batman

I want to start this by saying I love Batman. The Dark Knight is one of my heroes, and I still have my Batman movie hat with a mesh back that I got when I was a kid.  Growing up when I did was a great time to be a Batman fan... the first two great films came out and the merchandise exploded, and when I grew older there was the animated series to lose myself in.

In 1990 Congress passed the Batman Entertainment Law, making it legally required that from that point on every console produce a glut of Batman games. After growing up for years with nary a Batman game to be found (other than a Commodore/Apple game that scarcely bears mentioning) suddenly the movie came out, and every Batman game had to have the Joker, Axis Chemicals, and follow some bizarre alternate script to Batman that involves the Joker's army of killer robots. Batman for NES is a freaking classic which I still play, so it was with the hope of finding a similar joy that I picked up Batman for Game Boy. Surely this will be a monochrome port at worst, or a similarly mechanized game with different levels, at best?

Dunnnnn dun dun duhhhhhh dummmmmmm dummmmmmmmmm!

The opening scene tells us that Jack has sneaked into the Chemical Plant, without bothering to tell us who Jack is. You can almost hear the writers say "Its just like the movie, remember?" Stage one starts and I am confronted with a short, stunted form wearing a little hat with points. Is he... is he crouching? No, I quickly realized. This is Batman. A stout, wide creature with the proportions of Gimley. In a laudable move. The makers of this game apparently envisioned a world where Batman was born with some sort of deformity, leaving him a twisted, midget-like form instead of the tall and powerful shape of justice we're familiar with. The effects of this are two-fold: Batman no longer leaps and bounds about like a freudian-damaged ninja, preying upon evildoers. Instead, he is content to simply jog around and hop up little platforms. Seriously, the man can't even climb stairs step by step, instead having to leap up them, representing no doubt the trouble he has in mounting the inclines. The second part is this Batman apparently has stopped giving a darn and brought a gun.


BatGlock in action

That's right, as a side effect of putting on weight, Bruce Wayne has abandoned his vaunted code of honor and has decided its easier to just start putting caps in people and let God sort 'em out. I guess he decided its less exhausting than running after them. Its just a strange, strange game. It's uninspired, really, and typical of the Game Boy games that got shoveled out. Walk right, hop a surprisingly short distance, press the button to fire your BatGlock. You CAN upgrade the BatGlock but the upgrades are of questionable usefulness... a personal favorite is the "wave" bullet that wobbles up and down as it travels, adding no usefulness at all but ensuring that Batman can't actually hit a target. Its not a terrible game, and I guess if you just want a run and shoot game that has nothing spectacular about it, you're not going to go exactly wrong... and I will admit its almost worth it just to play the pistol-toting Midget Batman who doesn't give a dang.
Batman never could explain why he liked watching Mohammad Ali and Dracula on TV


Other quirks of note: The fact that the hit detection on the blocks is so tiny its a pain to hit them. The enemy design in the first few levels are just empty. The fact is the game is so repetitive I couldn't keep playing for more than a short bit before being bored. This game doesn't excel anywhere, but it's also not so fantastically bad so as to elicit a blistering review. It just commits the cardinal sin of a game... being dull.  If you see it in a bargain bin for a few dollars, its worth it, but anything more than the cost of a bottle of pop? Pass.

Find Batman on ebay | Amazon

Released: 1990-06-20
Publisher: Sunsoft
Developer: Sunsoft

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