This week I’m going to take a look at one the many licensed tie-in games for the NES, Batman. The first of three Batman games for the console this title was released by Sunsoft in December of 1989. Released to capitalise on the popularity of the Batman film released in the year and, to be fair, it does have a similar style and the likeness when it comes to Jack Nicholson’s Joker is actually pretty good. In fact the whole game is graphically pretty impressive for the NES. The title screen shows a surprisingly realistic looking Batman and the Batmobile looks great. The whole game also oozes with a dark atmosphere that actually makes you feel like you are in the sleazy underbelly of Gotham as you make your way towards the final fight with the iconic Joker.
Batman is your typical platforming affair with you fighting your way through an army of repetitive goons with various weapons and attacks. There’s a few automatons thrown in for good measure as well which is pretty standard for the time. None of the enemies have particularly hard patterns to avoid and the only real issue you encounter when facing enemies if they are on platforms or if they stack but this doesn’t happen very often. The whole game itself is not very challenging and even the bosses don’t provide too much difficulty. As long you don’t use up all your weapons there shouldn’t be any issue in completing the game in any given sitting. The platforming itself is solid and even though there are the occasional moments where it’s not perfect but for the most part there’s no complaints in this department.
The game does a good job of easing you in with the first stage seemingly designed to make you want to explore and whilst you gain no physical reward from doing this you do learn that Batman can triangle jump. This is a crucial technique in the game and introducing it without consequence is for me some great design. The quality in level design continues as playing through the game you find shortcuts scattered throughout the game which gives the player options to bypass some sections of the level and rewards you for paying attention to the whole level and makes Batman feel less linear.
As for the soundtrack that accompanies Batman, I’m not personally a fan. It’s not a bad soundtrack by any means, in fact it’s pretty good as far as soundtracks for the NES go. For me though it doesn’t quite have that Batman feel to it.There are a lot of people that probably love it but for me it doesn’t quite hit the spot. This is not my biggest gripe with this game – it doesn’t even come close. The most obvious and infuriating issue that arises from playing Batman is that to pause the game you have to press select and to change your weapon you have to press start. This goes against everything that has been ingrained into a gamers instincts. I can’t think of another game on any platform that isn’t paused by pressing the start button. It may not sound like the biggest deal but by the time you start to get used to it the game is over and whenever you revisit it you find you’ve forgotten again.
Batman is a game I would recommend if you’re a fan of platformers. It’s not the hardest game and isn’t long but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. Everybody plays games for different reasons but as a way to escape real life and have a little bit of fun it’s perfect. It’s worth playing through to the end as the final showdown ends with a great cutscene which upon my first completion I wasn’t really expecting. If you’re not a Batman fan it’s still quite satisfying and you’ll definitely feel like you’ve achieved some form of justice upon completion of this game.