Batman Returns (video game)
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Mega Drive cover
|Developer(s)||Denton Designs (Amiga)|
Spirit of Discovery (MS-DOS)
Aspect Co., Ltd. (Game Gear, Master System)
Acme Interactive / Malibu Interactive (Genesis, Sega CD)
Konami (NES, SNES)
|Publisher(s)||Sega of America (Sega versions)|
Konami (Nintendo/MS-DOS versions)
|Platform(s)||NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega Mega-CD, Master System, Game Gear, Lynx, Amiga, MS-DOS|
|Genre(s)||Action, beat 'em up|
Batman Returns is a video game for various platforms based on the film of the same name. The Sega console versions (i.e. Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Mega-CD, Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear) were published by Sega while the NES and Super NES versions were developed and published by Konami. The MS-DOS version was published by Konami and developed by Spirit of Discovery. The Amiga version was developed by Denton Designs, and also published by Konami. There is also an Atari Lynx version, published by Atari.
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 was featured heavily on the console at the time. The gameplay and graphics are very similar to the Final Fight games.
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.
The NES version of the game is also a beat 'em up game, but closer in style and gameplay to the Double Dragon series. 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 controls the Batmobile and the Batskiboat. The music was composed by Shigemasa Matsuo and Takashi Tateishi.
Sega 16-bit versions
The Mega-CD/Sega CD and Mega Drive/Genesis versions of the game are more or less identical, as they are both two-dimensional platforming games similar in design to Sega's previous movie-based Batman game. The CD edition of the game features a number of 3D racing levels that took advantage of the graphics hardware provided by the Mega-CD unit, plus improved music in the form of CD audio with a number of animations featuring original artwork (not film photos). 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 8-bit versions
The Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear 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.
Atari Lynx version
The Atari Lynx version is a 2D side-scroller consisting of four levels. The first level you face the Circus Gang with Penguin as the end level boss. The second level you face the police on the roof tops with Catwoman as the end level boss. The third level you have to defeat Penguin's forces in the sewer, while the four level is titled "Arctic World" where you face Penguin for the final time. The game was developed in-house by Atari-Eypx produced by John Skruch with the main programmers being Jerome Starch and Eric Ginner. There was an Atari Lynx II release which came with Batman Returns.
The DOS 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.
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.
Reviews of the SNES 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 by Jun Funahashi, Harumi Uekō and Kazuhiko Uehara from Danny Elfman's score for the film). It was awarded Best Licensed Game of 1992 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.
The Mega-CD version was a bestseller in the UK.
The gaming press almost universally panned the Amiga version of 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.
Robert A. Jung reviewed the Atari Lynx version of the game quoting "It offers solid action and a serious challenge wrapped up in a hot license" giving a final score of 8 out of 10.
Entertainment Weekly gave the game an A and wrote that "Forget about the tortured dualities of good and evil — this is a rousing, jump and-shoot-action game, whose main links with the movie are in its dark backgrounds and Tim Burton-inspired character design."
- "Atari Lynx Longplay  Batman Returns". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- "ATARI LYNX - CONSOLES - ATARI LYNX 2 BATMAN CONSOLE BOXED". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
- Robert A. Jung (30 June 1999). "Guaranteed to sell more Lynxes. Atari's Batman Returns reviewed". IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 19
- "Sega Master Force Issue 1" (1). August 1993: 25. Retrieved November 19, 2015.
- "Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide". 1993.
- Official Gallup UK Mega CD sales chart, December 1993, published in Mega (magazine) issue 15