July 23, 2009
Batman Returns the video game roughly follows the plot of the Tim Burton movie of the same name. Batman battles waves of villains, culminating with a fight to save Gotham from The Penguin’s reign of terror. Oh yeah, Catwoman is around too to spice things up.
Soundtrack: The creators wisely used Danny Elfman’s score from the film. It sets a nice mood throughout.
3-D…sort of: The levels are mostly 2-D side scrolling but occasionally break the mold to let you move up and down! How quaint. Tossing a henchman sideways into a department store window is one of the more enjoyable gameplay features.
Environment Destruction: Mailboxes and other objects scattered about the levels can be smashed, preferably with a clown’s head
Super Villains: The fights with Catwoman and The Penguin are a rewarding challenge, and a high point of the game.
Saves: This game is hard, specifically the boss fights. The lack of a save option makes it that much worse.
Batmobile: Level 5 switches things up with a driving game. It’s a nice change of pace, but just doesn’t work that well. The mechanics seem off and this level is much easier than the rest of the game.
Weapons: Batman is known for his “wonderful toys”, but the gadgets in this game are poorly executed. What’s up with the white-flash test tubes?
Repetition: I know that repetitiveness comes with the beat ’em up genre, but I would like a bit more variety in my game. The enemies are the same through every level. Only the boss battles provide relief.
Movies turned into games are usually a disaster (see upcoming review of Total Recall), but Batman Returns bucks the trend. It’s a pretty typical beat ’em up, but the high production values make it stand out from the pack. If you’re a fan of the genre or Batman you should enjoy the game. It makes me looks forward to the upcoming Arkham Asylum that much more.