Monday 20 April 2015

Batman Returns (Atari Lynx review)

Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari
Released: 1992

Batman Returns is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that is based on the 1992 movie of the same name.

It consists of four levels and your mission is to stop Catwoman and The Penguin from terrorising Gotham City. On top of your standard punch you can also collect batarangs and explosives that are scattered around the level which can then be selected with the Option 1 button to attack enemies from a distance. To be honest though it's absolutely pointless trying to engage in combat as you'll still take damage on almost every occasion despite punching out an opponent. You'll also be swarmed by incoming enemies and some of them have bombs that they'll continue to fire in your direction meaning damage is unavoidable in most circumstances. Instead, the only way to progress is to either use the invincibility cheat (which must be entered before playing any part of the game or it won't work) or simply run through the level avoiding all combat and jumping over everything. For the most part the latter is effective but it's no fun at all and defeats the whole purpose of a beat-em-up game. Once you reach the end of a level you'll face a boss and it's not always obvious what you have to do. If you die at any point, guess what? It's game over. That's right, despite the unforgiving difficulty you only have ONE LIFE to complete the entire game! It makes you wonder how this got past quality control and considering it was a pack-in with many Atari Lynx II consoles it really does leave a bad first impression of the system. Don't even bother trying to complete the game though as the ending is really not worth it! On a bright note the graphics look amazing with bright, vivid colours, chunky sprites and lots of detail / animation.

Batman Returns is a seriously frustrating experience, not just because it's incredibly tough, but because this could have been an awesome game if the difficulty was toned down and you had multiple lives. Instead it was a really bad misstep for Atari as it had the potential to be the killer app for the Lynx.

Random trivia: There were many different versions of Batman Returns released including titles for the Super Nintendo and Game Gear. The most notorious is the Amiga version as it had many bugs and hardly any collision detection!

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