Tuesday 30 December 2014

Batman: The Video Game (NES review)

Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher: Sunsoft
Released: 1989

Batman: The Video Game is an action platformer where you're out for revenge on The Joker for the murder of your parents.

It features five levels with several acts each and your primary weapon is your punch - however, you can pick up ammo which gives you access to batarangs, a gun and throwing discs for long range attacks. You can switch between these on the fly which adds a nice strategic element. Sunsoft definitely took some inspiration from Ninja Gaiden as this game features a similar numbered stage / act layout, gameplay and wall jumping mechanics. You'll need to use the latter at many points so perfecting it is key. While you do get used to the controls there's a slight lag between pressing the jump button and Batman actually performing that action. This makes the game tougher than it needs to be and you only have three lives and no further 1-ups. Thankfully you have unlimited continues and you start off on the same act with all your previous weapon ammo. You'll need these continues for the bosses as some of them are too difficult and it's tough to work out what to do without dying many times. I didn't enjoy Batman initially but it did grow on me. Once you know what to expect you can put together a plan of attack and top-up your ammo / life by repeatedly shooting the enemies that fall from the ceiling pods. This gives you freedom to account for error and you'll start to breeze through many of the stages without too much trouble. The fast paced music is amazing and creates a tense atmosphere that wouldn't sound out of place in a Mega Man game! Although the sprites are on the small side, the graphics are excellent with tons of texture detail and moody lighting.

Batman: The Video Game isn't particularly easy to get into but it's one that you'll reap many rewards from if you stick with it. Mastering your long range attacks and wall jumping is crucial and once you get the hang of them you'll find a solid title that's great fun to play through.

Random trivia: There's a leaked beta version of this game available that has a number of differences including longer cut-scenes and an alternative ending. Interestingly, the beta has Firebug as the last boss and although you still throw The Joker off the building you never actually face him!

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