Format reviewed: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
Submitted by: Gavin Miller
Batman is your typical platformer affair. Run, jump, punch and repeat. The game follows the movie to some degree with stages like Gotham City, the Chemical Factory & the climax up the cathedral. As Batman it’s your job to stop The Joker and his henchmen from destroying Gotham. As well as the standard punch & low kick attacks, holding up while pushing jump releases Batman’s grappling hook allowing him to climb vertically as opposed to later Batman games where your able to shoot the hook on an angle and swing. Also for the baddie that is just out of reach Batman has a small supply of Batarangs that can be thrown with a tap of the “A” button. As you progress through the levels Batman can find more Batarangs as well as health and the occasional extra life. A great feature in the game is that once Batman’s health runs out & a life is lost Batman will just reappear in the same spot which saves you having to replay levels over and over. At the end of each level there is a small boss fight with thugs like ‘Bob the Goon’ or ‘The Kick Boxer’ I don’t remember anywhere in the movie where Batman is attacked by a ninja wielding twin blades. Never the less most go down relatively easy especially if your still holding some Batarangs which can be tossed from a safe distance as you watch their health disappear.
The game is made up of 4 platform levels and 2 driving levels where you have the chance to drive the Batmobile and the Batwing. These levels are quite easy with both machines being able to spray bullets from their fronts as well as a limited supply of missiles. These sections do well with breaking up the game play and adding a bit of variety. The game can be quite unforgiving at times with Batman jumping back each time he’s hit leading him to fall off platforms and to his death. Also before fighting The Joker the game throws all the previous bosses at you one after the other which can be a real pain to overcome. But I’m sure like me, you’ll want to fight your way to the end and witness the Joker’s cool ability to shoot lightning bolts from his hands. Pure villainy.
Format reviewed: NES/Famicom
Submitted by: Michael Levy
The 1980s were good for some characters, particularly Batman. The character gained back his ground as a serious comic book crime fighter, even achieving himself a strong motion picture with Tim Burton’s 1980s Batman film. Along with this, and every other movie at that time, a NES/Famicom game was created. However, while film-to-games are tragedies, this one ended up becoming one of the best film-to-game platform games of all time.
The story is standard, following Batman’s eventual fight with the Joker, his arch nemesis. Not much story involved other than a few very repetitive cut-scenes. Where this game excels at is it’s level design and gameplay.
BATMAN for the NES/Famicom lures the player through the streets, sewers, industrial parks and towers of Gotham City. All the levels are designed so Batman can leap off of walls, one of the game’s standard mechanics. It’s similar to Ninja Gaiden, minus the actual climbing ability. Batman has a short-distanced punch, or three weapons to switch from: Batarang, missile launcher and some sort of gun. Platforming is solid and never feels stale. Jumping from pipe to pipe feels fresh and fun, despite sometimes not really being sure where to go.
However, the music is the real winner of this title, with hummable tunes that will be stuck in one’s head even after completing the game, which has that traditional SunSoft feel to it (you’ll know it when you hear it.) Overall, this game is one of the few good Batman games, even to this day.
Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Developer: John Ritman / Bernie Drummond / Mark Serlin
Submitted by: Richard Davy
Holy Disappearing Act, Batman! Or something like that. Robin, the Boy Wonder, has been kidnapped by the Joker; the Riddler posed a problem and, whilst Robin was pre-occupied with the solution, Joker thought it would be funny to hit him over the head with an oversized chocolate biscuit. Or something like that. Anyway, Robin's nest is empty and it's up to Batman, the Caped Crusader, the Righter of Wrongs, and Gotham City's saviour, to stop hanging around and fly to his rescue.
Only he has a job to do first.
Batman needs his superglue; the Batmobile is in pieces. Seven pieces to be exact scattered throughout the sprawling Batcave and, until the vehicle is reconstructed Batman is going nowhere. Trouble is, there's a host of denizens in situ intent on preventing Batman from pursuing his cause. Boy, Robin will sure wonder where his mentor is. Odd, too, that Albert isn't around…
Albert's also been careless and left vital items necessary to explore the cave laying around. Why Batman just doesn't use the Batbike… Oh, that's missing, too. Sheesh! Who'd be a Super Hero, eh?
Still, quit musing and put your panties on – Robin needs you, before Catwoman de-feathers him. Or something like that.
Just like the classic tv show, this game is wild, warped and wonderful. Everything has been lavished with a cartoon image; the array of enemies is a delight – scary-cute teddy bears and head-heavy bull-dogs, among others. The character of Batman looks just like the Adam West incarnation with his too-tight outfit and a vacant-embarrassed expression. And if you leave him doing nothing for long enough, he will impatiently tap his foot. Marvelous!
The puzzles throughout will have you scratching your head and completion will take time, though every moment will be enjoyed. Sound, however, is disappointing, 'Useful' being the only, um, useful option. Still, with the cute factor way off the scale and the humorous approach taken by the programmers, a lack of bearable sound is easily forgiven.
Overall, Batman is an absolute joy to play and cannot be recommended highly enough.
Format reviewed: Amiga 500
Submitted by: Darran Jones
Ocean’s Batman was a bit of a watershed for me. It was one of the first ever film licences to truly capture the spirit of the movie it was based on, it featured some of the most astounding visuals I’d seen outside of the arcades and made me realise that I had to own an Amiga by any means necessary.
While I’d been following the arrival of the Amiga in various magazines, I was more than happy with my faithful Sega Master System (the one that came with that built-in Snail Maze game) and was convinced that I had no need to hassle my parents for yet another expensive computer – how wrong I was…
Arriving at my mate’s house, I found him in his bedroom with a grin that almost took in his ears. “Honestly mate, you’re not going to believe this, it’s like being in the movie.” Unconvinced, I sat myself down and waited for the game to finish loading.
After an agonising wait the intro screen finally appeared and I was immediately impressed. The music was fantastic and the sampled speech easily the clearest I’d ever heard. Once the main game started however, I came down to earth a little. Sure it looked nice, but it seemed a little slow and felt clunky to control (I’ve never liked using keyboards to play games). Almost reading my mind, my friend took over at the keyboard (he’d already busted his joystick) and promised that “the best was yet to come”. Skilfully manoeuvring his way around the chemical factory, he completed the level and sat back with a satisfied look on his face.
The next moment was simply amazing. The Batmobile suddenly hurtled through the streets of Gotham City at a phenomenal rate and try as I might, I just couldn’t pull my eyes from the TV screen. Mesmerised by the slick visuals, no words come out; I was simply stunned by the magnificence that was unfolding before me. My Master System all but forgotten, I was mentally trying to work out how many cars I’d need to wash to get an Amiga…
Format reviewed: Amstrad CPC
Developer: Jon Ritman / Bernie Drummond
Submitted by: Darran Jones
All praise Bob Kane and Bill Finger, for if it wasn’t for these talented artistes we may never have experienced the excellence that was Head Over Heels.
In case you weren’t aware, Kane and Finger co-created the classic DC Comics superhero Batman, who was then turned into a rather fetching gaming superhero in an isometric platformer by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond, which in turn formed the basis for Head Over Heels. Still, we’ve done that par-isometric classic to death, so let’s instead focus our attention on Ritman’s Batman.
Ocean’s first licensed Batman game not only marked Ritman’s first isometric adventure, but would also be the first time (of many) that he would team up with friend-of-a-friend Bernie Drummond.
With no pressure from Ocean or DC Comics, Ritman allowed his mind to run rampant, and while there were no cameos from the likes of the Joker, Penguin or Riddler, there were plenty of bizarre-looking enemies to avoid and smart puzzles to solve.
Before Batman could concentrate on recovering the missing pieces of his Batmobile, his first task was to collect four handy items that would make his final task that little bit easier. The Bat Boots allowed the portly one to jump, the Bat Bag enabled him to pick up certain objects, while the Bat Thruster and Low Gravity Belt slowed your rate of speed while falling and allowed you to change direction.
Of course, once you had found the above items your quest was only really beginning, and certain parts of the Batmobile proved incredibly tricky to secure. Thanks to its finely tuned gameplay, sparkling visuals and cleverly designed puzzles, Batman never became a chore to play, and while it wasn’t as large as Head Over Heels, it still took a fair amount of time and skill to complete.
We’ve included a shot of the Amstrad version here, mainly because it’s the most colourful of the 8-bit outings, but whichever format you eventually plump for, you’ll be in for a brilliant time.