Batman Returns is a beat 'em up video game based on the original motion picture.
The SNES version of the game was released in 1993. It is fundamentally a left-to-right scrolling fighter beat-em-up, a genre that featured heavily on the console at the time.
The game takes the player through seven scenes featured in the film. Various members of the Red Triangle Circus Gang attack Batman throughout the game. Batman has a number of weapons and moves at his disposal, including the batarang. Each level ends with a boss character, which requires a little more effort and strategy to defeat. A number of levels are two-dimensional platform levels as opposed to the majority of the pseudo-3D levels where freer movement is permitted. The fifth level consists of driving the Batmobile in a chase scene where Batman must chase bikers and a heavily-armed van from the gang. In order to defeat them, the Batmobile uses a machine gun.
Reviews of the game were largely positive, although some criticism was made about the lack of originality. Praise was gained for the quality of the graphics, sound, fluid controls, balanced difficulty level and atmosphere (with music adapted from Danny Elfman's score for the film).
Batman Returns was awarded Best Licensed Game of 1992 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.
The NES version of the game is also a beat 'em up game. The player only has one life bar (which can be expanded through health packs). It implements a password-save system. Of special note are the two side-scrolling racing levels in which the player controlled the Batmobile and the Batskiboat.
Sega 16-bit versionsEdit
The Mega-CD/Sega CD and Mega Drive/Genesis versions of the game are more or less identical. The CD edition of the game features improved music in the form of CD audio with a number of animations featuring original artwork (not film photos), and a number of then-impressive 3D racing levels that took advantage of the graphics hardware provided by the Sega CD unit.
The Mega Drive/Genesis game was roundly criticized by the gaming press for having substandard-quality graphics and unoriginal and unexciting gameplay with an unfair difficulty level, while the Mega-CD/Sega CD one had some success due to the exciting racing levels and the rock music.
While different versions follow the movie's plot from start to finish, the Sega versions start after The Penguin kills the Ice Princess and puts the blame on Batman for killing her, as shown in the game's introductions.
Sega Master System and Game Gear versionsEdit
As with the 16-bit versions, the 8-bit versions of the game are side-scrolling platform games. However, the titles were created independently of the 16-bit versions. This version featured a unique branched level system, allowing players to choose from an easy and difficult route. The latter typically forced players to use rope swinging to navigate over large floorless areas in these versions of levels. According to a user on the SEGA Bits forum, it was originally supposed to be a Shinobi game.
Atari Lynx versionEdit
The Atari Lynx version is a 2D side-scroller that had some of the best graphics of Atari's portable. The game was well known for being notoriously difficult.
The PC version of the game, published by Konami, differs considerably from the other versions, in that it was not primarily an action game, rather an adventure game. This was because the PC was, at the time, still not considered a serious gaming system and was primarily host to games belonging in the adventure, role-playing video game and strategy genres.
It was received moderately well by the press.
The Amiga version of the game was a subject of considerable controversy. Gametek had, prior to the game's release, sent a number of screenshots derived from the PC title to market the game. As such, a number of computer magazines previewed the game as a direct conversion of the PC adventure.
The reality, however, was very different. The game was, contrary to expectations, not a conversion of the PC title, but a side-scrolling platform game akin to the console games. It was plagued with bugs, including very inaccurate collision detection.
The gaming press almost universally panned the game for the aforementioned bugs, for being near unplayable (with controls that rarely reacted in the way they should have done) together with poor graphics and sound - the game was given marks as low as 19% (CU Amiga). The belief that the Amiga version would be a conversion of the PC title may have been contributory to the disappointment and anger expressed by many magazines - reviews on modern retro gaming sites are, however, not generally so critical of the game, although few offer much praise.