Batman Returns: Punching the Face of Licensed Games
I hate licensed games! You know the ones I’m talking about? That game that just HAS to coincided with the theatrical release of some big budget popcorn-a-thon movie. The game that’s designed so little orphan Timmy can feel like he’s playing a character from the movie. They are crap, they have been crap, and they will always be crap. If I were a billionaire, my sole job in life would be to eradicate any instance of a licensed game off the face of the earth. I would purchase the largest rocket ever made, load it with every copy of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Fight Club, Superman 64, and Jurassic Park that I can find then launch that bad boy straight into the damn sun. Then I would set up a medical facility that specializes in the intrusive cerebral purging of anyone who has ever bought such a game. For the parents that did not educate themselves before submitting to the siren call of Corporate Hollywood, I will find you and I will make you pay! If you haven’t figured it out by now, I hate these games. To me, studio executives and the game companies that get in bed with them are nothing more than mother selling pond scum. They do not care about your sanity or your need to play a good game. All they want is the cold, hard earned cash you have in your pocket and if it requires them to regurgitate countless copies of Highlander II: The Quickening (Now with Wii Plus motion control) so be it.
Now every once in a while a game will come along that tosses out those preconceived notions of what a licensed game is supposed to be. This happens about as often as me skipping a week of doing daily quests on my lv 85 Mage in World of Warcraft. For those of you that don’t now me, this means almost NEVER. But it does happen, and when it does I like to give credit where credit is due. So now sit back in your bean bag chair, grab a straw for your Mountain Dew, and let me tell you a little bit about a game on the Super Nintendo called Batman Returns.
Now I am going to take a moment to aquatint you with the story of Batman Returns. You know what? Forget that. If you have never watched Batman Returns then you have no reason for reading this post. For those of us that have watched it, then kudos to you. Here’s a cookie. Ok, fine. This is for the people too lazy to hop onto YouTube and spend 5 minutes watching highlights from the movie. You are Batman. Batman likes to beat the crap out of people who commit crimes. There are also some Super-villians that get a kick out of destroying Gotham City that need to be dealt with. It is your job as Batman to stop them and protect the innocent. Now if a few innocent bystanders get maimed or killed in the process, so be it. You did it for the good of Gotham. But if you truly insist on knowing what happens to poor hapless Batman, then you are in luck while playing the game. The developers felt the need to cater to the slavering masses by providing digitized images from the film to illustrate the storyline. While there is no spoken dialog, text boxes are provided for your reading enjoyment.
Batman Returns is one of those rare licensed games that, while keeping to the script of the movie, tried to think outside of the box. For the most part this worked out rather well and provides you with an engaging game. By taking all the best parts from Batman Begins; i.e. beating people up, using gadgets, and driving, the developers were able to craft a classic brawling game that gives a nod to other power house fighters like Final Fight and River City Ransom.
There are two variations to the levels you play with one driving sequence tossed in for good measure. The first section you encounter is a free roaming beat ‘em up that gives you the ability to move in a 2 dimension fashion. Your main choice of ass-whoopin’ is a combination of punches, kicks, combos and throws. You can also pick up a variety of “chemical” vials that, when thrown, will have an explosive effect that damages all enemies on the screen. You even have the use of your trusty Batarang to take out distant thugs that you may not be in the mood to feed a fist sandwich to. The other scope of the game has you fighting for your life in a traditional 1 dimension mode. In this area you are only able to move from left to right and are limited to the directions of your travel. Your epic fighting prowess is replaced with the need to use an unlimited supply of Batarangs to pummel the masses of mindless thugs. While you still retain the ability to punch, this is mostly used for the enemies that get too close. The last section of the game that you encounter is the much dreaded “driving sequence”. This is pretty much as it sounds. You take control of the Batmobile and must clean the trash from the streets and by trash I mean criminals.
Just as in the movie you will encounter many different variations of enemies and bosses. Most of the game will be spent ramming your fist down the throats of Penguin’s Red Triangle Circus Gang henchmen. These henchmen stay pretty much faithful to the movie by showcasing a variety of criminal clowns. Throughout the course of your crime fighting escapades you will encounter thin clowns, fat clowns, clowns on bikes, clowns armed with bazookas, even clowns with chicken pox. No, not really, but that would have been pretty funny. At the end of each level you must endure a boss fight, including several encounters with Catwoman and the Penguin. Most of the time these bosses consist of overpowered clowns with either A: Heavy weapons or B: Super strength. During the driving segments you will be pretty much limited to armored clown vehicles firing rockets or clowns on motorcycles shooting guns. Word of warning dear reader: if you suffer from a debilitating case of Coulrophobia, I would NOT recommend playing this game.
The music in the game consists of random digitized snippets taken directly from the movie. While this does sound good when you are pulverizing the faces of countless clowns, after a few hours the music can get a little dull. As for the sound effects: there won’t be any confusion between the sounds your fists make while hitting a clown and the sound of a lovely summer rainfall. There really is not much to write home about.
While Batman Returns didn’t change my opinion of Hollywood licensed games, it did show me that a developer can make a decent movie tie-in game when they put their mind and resources to it. Now go and grab your utility belt, some Batarangs, a cape and the best picture of Michelle Pfeiffer in her cat suit you can find and play this game.
Released on the SNES April, 1993
Published by Konami
Developed by Konami