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Batman: The Video Game

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Batman: The Video Game
North American cover art
Designer(s)Kazutomo Mori
Masayuki Takatsuji
Noriko Sakai
Tadashi Kojima
Yoshiaki Iwata
Programmer(s)Keiichi Suzuki
Hiroaki Higashiya
Yuichi Ueda
Composer(s)Naoki Kodaka
Noboyuki Hara
  • JP: December 22, 1989
  • NA: February 13, 1990
  • EU: September 14, 1990

Batman: The Video Game is a platform game developed by Sunsoft for the Nintendo Entertainment System, loosely based on the 1989 film Batman. The game contains five levels culminating in a showdown with the Joker in the bell tower of Gotham Cathedral. It was received well.

Sunsoft developed three related games with the same title for the Game Boy, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, and PC Engine in 1990.


Batman being attacked by Heat Wave in the first stage

The game has a feature that was unusual in side-scrolling platform games at the time, largely to the NES itself. Unlike Sunsoft's Batman for the Mega Drive/Genesis, which features the grappling hook, Batman has the ability to do a wall jump. He is able to use three projectile weapons: the batarang, batdisk, and batpoon, which are powered by pellet cartridges.

The stages in the game consists of the Gotham City Streets, Axis Chemical Plant, Gotham Sewers, Mysterious Laboratory, and the Gotham Cathedral Belltower. A number of notable DC Comics villains appear as low-level minions in the game, including Deadshot, KGBeast, Maxie Zeus, Heat Wave, Shakedown, and Nightslayer.

The bosses in the game are Killer Moth, a device known as the Machine Intelligence System, the Electrocutioner, a machine known as the Dual-Container Alarm, Firebug, and the Joker. The penultimate boss will be skipped in the continued play if the player reached the Joker previously, so the player can directly fight the Joker next time.


The prototype version of the game had some significant differences, such as a 1UP icon and entirely different cut-scenes. The game's original last boss was Firebug and there was no Joker boss. Instead, Batman defeats the Joker in the ending cut-scene. The art and dialogue were changed from the prototype to the final version to better reflect the look and events from the film.[1]


Batman: The Video Game garnered generally favorable reception from critics.[6][17][18][19] Electronic Gaming Monthly's four reviewers praised the intermission cutscenes, challenging bosses, and different weapons. While the graphics received praise for matching the film's mood, they felt it detracted from the game's overall appeal and added that its gameplay could get repetitive.[5] Computer and Video Games' Paul Rand lauded the presentation for its forbidding backgrounds, Batman's main sprite, and cutscenes. Rand also celebrated the game's soundscapes and frenetic gameplay.[4] ACE's Euguene Lacey praised the game's atmospheric audiovisual presentation and gameplay, but commented that its overall appeal depends largely on being a Batman fan and noted its difficulty.[2]

Joystick's Jean-Marc Demoly regarded the game as an excellent achievement on the NES, highlighting its dark graphics, sordid atmosphere, music, playability, and controls.[7] Player One's Patrick Giordano applauded the visuals for their gothic-esque look and animated sequences. Giordano also praised the game's soundtrack, audio effects, and controls, but noted its learning curve.[9] Raze found the game to be very good but considered the levels to be short.[10] Mean Machines' Matt Regan and Julian Rignall praised the game's presentation for its animated cutscenes, crisp visuals, addictive gameplay, and balanced difficulty, but saw the audio as the only shortcoming.[13] Video Games' Heinrich Lenhardt commended the game's thrilling music and said that the dark graphics have a certain charm, but emphasized that it will take some getting used to and criticized the cumbersome way of switching weapons.[12]

Play Time's Rainer Rosshirt found the game to be highly playable and gave positive remarks for its audiovisual department.[14] Total!'s Andy Dyer expressed admiration for the game's atmospheric backgrounds and gameplay but remarked that the soundscapes were not its best aspect.[11] Nintendo Magazine System (Official Nintendo Magazine) rated it as a first-class title and considered its gameplay to be addictive, but highlighted the high level of difficulty.[8] Super Gamer labelled it as one of the best platform games released on the NES, stating that the graphics captured the atmosphere and feel of Batman.[15] AllGame's Brett Alan Weiss called it "one of the best superhero games for the NES".[3] In a retrospective outlook, Hardcore Gaming 101's Chris Rasa highlighted its visuals, responsive controls, level design, and soundtrack, writing that "Sunsoft's first attempt at a Batman game remains its best".[1]

Sales and accolades[edit]

According to Famitsu, Batman sold approximately 78,437 copies during its lifetime in Japan.[20] In 1989, EGM gave it their "Best Movie to Game" award.[16] In the years after its release, it has been celebrated as one of the best games on the NES.[21][22][23][24] Furthermore, it is also listed among the best Batman games.[25][26][27] In 2009, IGN placed the title on their "Top 100 NES Games" list at #33, citing its gameplay and high difficulty.[21] In 2014, Digital Trends named it one of the fifty best games for the NES, although the publication noted storyline changes from the film on which it was based.[22] In 2022, Destructoid identified it as one of the ten best games for the NES, opining that it was better designed than Ninja Gaiden but highlighted its difficult nature.[23] In 2023, Den of Geek listed it as one of the fifteen best NES games based on movies and TV shows.[28]

Game Boy version[edit]

The Game Boy title holds an aggregate score of 78.75% on GameRankings.[29] It features Batman attacking with a gun and is arguably the least related title to the film. The Game Boy version of the game sold over 500,000 copies by December 1990.[30]

Genesis version[edit]

A title for Mega Drive/Genesis was also developed by Sunsoft. Unlike the NES version, its plot has more similarities to that of the film.

PC Engine version[edit]

Batman for the PC Engine is an action-puzzle game, developed by Sunsoft and released in 1990 only in Japan. For unknown reasons the game was never released in North America for the TurboGrafx-16. There originally was a side scrolling action Batman like the other console versions, but it got canceled at some point and was replaced with what became the released product.


  1. ^ a b Rasa, Chris (December 12, 2014). "Batman: The Video Game (NES)". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 2018-03-16. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  2. ^ a b Lacey, Eugene (August 1990). "Screentest (Consoles) - Coming for Consoles: Batman — Holy Nintendo, the Caped Crusader is back". ACE. No. 35. EMAP. p. 59.
  3. ^ a b Weiss, Brett Alan (1998). "Batman: The Video Game (Nintendo Entertainment System) - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 2014-11-15. Retrieved 2023-10-14.
  4. ^ a b Rand, Paul (June 1990). "Nintendo - Mean Machines: Batman". Computer and Video Games. No. 103. EMAP. pp. 100–101.
  5. ^ a b Harris, Steve; Semrad, Ed; Alessi, Martin; Stockhausen, Jim (April 1990). "Review Crew: Batman (NES)". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 9. Sendai Publishing. p. 10.
  6. ^ a b "NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: バットマン". Famitsu (in Japanese). No. 91–92. ASCII Corporation. January 5–19, 1990. p. 18.
  7. ^ a b Demoly, Jean-Marc (September 1990). "Console News - Nintendo NES: Batman". Joystick (in French). No. 8. Sipress. p. 112.
  8. ^ a b "Nintendo Magazine System Game Index: 8-Bit NES". Nintendo Magazine System. No. 1. EMAP. October 1992. pp. 104–109.
  9. ^ a b Giordano, Patrick (October 1990). "Tests de Jeu - Nintendo: Batman". Player One [fr] (in French). No. 2. Média Système Édition [fr]. pp. 28–29.
  10. ^ a b "Reviews: Batman (Nintendo)". Raze. No. 1. Newsfield. November 1990. p. 41.
  11. ^ a b Dyer, Andy (January 1992). "NES Reviews: Batman". Total!. No. 1. Future Publishing. pp. 20–21.
  12. ^ a b Lenhardt, Heinrich (March 1991). "Test: Gotham City Bei Nacht - Batman (NES)". Video Games [de] (in German). No. 3. Markt & Technik. p. 33.
  13. ^ a b Regan, Matt; Rignall, Julian (December 1990). "Nintendo Review: Batman". Mean Machines. No. 3. EMAP. pp. 78–79.
  14. ^ a b Rosshirt, Rainer (January 1992). "Konsolen Spiele: Batman (Nintendo)". Play Time [de] (in German). No. 8. Computec. p. 78. Archived from the original on 2023-10-15. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  15. ^ a b "A-Z of Games - Nintendo Games Index: NES". Super Gamer. No. 1. Paragon Publishing. April 1994. pp. 124–125.
  16. ^ a b "Best and Worst of 1989". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 5. Sendai Publishing. December 1989. pp. 17–24.
  17. ^ Huyghues-Lacour, Alain (October 1990). "Rolling Softs: Batman (Console Nintendo, cartouche Sunsoft)". Tilt (in French). No. 82. Editions Mondiales S.A. [fr]. p. 92.
  18. ^ "Le Cahier des Consoles - Nintendo: Batman". Amstar Informatique [fr] (in French). No. 52. Soracom Editions. December 1990.
  19. ^ "Sistema Nintendo: Batman". VideoGame [pt] (in Portuguese). No. 1. Editora Sigla. March 1991. p. 17.
  20. ^ "Game Search". Game Data Library. Archived from the original on 2023-01-01. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  21. ^ a b "Top 100 NES Games - 33. Batman: The Video Game". IGN. IGN Entertainment. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  22. ^ a b "The 50 best NES games of all time". Digital Trends. Designtechnica Corporation. June 28, 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  23. ^ a b "Top 10 best NES games of all time, ranked". Destructoid. Enthusiast Gaming. December 17, 2022. Archived from the original on 2023-01-04. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  24. ^ "Best NES Games Of All Time". GameSpot. Red Ventures. October 27, 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-10-27. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  25. ^ "The best Batman games of all time, ranked". Digital Trends. Designtechnica Corporation. August 2, 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-08-03. Retrieved 2023-10-16.
  26. ^ "Best Batman Games On Nintendo Systems". Nintendo Life. Hookshot Media. March 4, 2022. p. 3. Archived from the original on 2022-03-24. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  27. ^ "The Best and Worst Batman Games Ever". PCMag. Ziff Davis. October 20, 2022. Archived from the original on 2022-10-26. Retrieved 2023-10-16.
  28. ^ "15 Best NES Games Based On Movies and TV Shows". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. July 3, 2023. Archived from the original on 2023-07-03. Retrieved 2023-10-15.
  29. ^ "Batman: The Video Game for Game Boy on GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  30. ^ Ridenour, Debbie (December 5, 1990). "New game out for Christmas". The Advocate. p. 11. Retrieved December 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.

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