Published on August 1st, 2012 | by Phoenix1
Batman Returns in Super NES Classic
With the recent release of The Dark Knight Rises, I found myself reminiscing about past Batman experiences that I’d had. I plan to rewatch Batman: The Animated Series, considered one of the best portrayals of Batman in any media. It also got me thinking about a classic Batman game, Batman Returns for the Super NES. Long before Batman was chasing down criminals in Arkham City, this game had Batman battling his classic rivals Catwoman and The Penguin, the primary antagonists in the 1992 movie of the same name.
Like many games that came out in the early 90s, Batman Returns was able to push the outer limits of the Super NES’s capacity, squeezing out the most sophisticated graphics and sound that the console could muster. The picture was crisp and clear, and the music sounding more orchestral and well-arranged than most video game music that came before it. My favorite tunes were from the first level, which hints of a growing and creeping evil descending on Gotham City (classic Batman if you ask me), and the last level, an aggressive piano and marimba-driven tune that suits The Penguin’s character well and adds to the anticipation of the final battle.
Batman Returns’s gameplay was criticized a little for being too similar to the Final Fight series. I haven’t played any of those games, though in looking at screenshots of Final Fight those critics do seem to have some merit. But in this case, the gameplay works and fits with the Batman story well, and doesn’t seem forced into a preset game engine that doesn’t fit. The player makes use of all of Batman’s weapons: the Batarang, grappling hook, and his brute strength (you’ll have beaten up more Red Triangle Circus Gang clowns than you care to remember by the end). The player alternates between using different weapons as the primary weapon, which adds new wrinkles to the gameplay. And in one stage, the player gets to commandeer the Batmobile, shooting discs at enemies (that’s probably my favorite stage). The game’s overall difficulty level is challenging without being frustrating (having an emulator that supports Save State helps).
Perhaps the biggest knock on Batman Returns is its utter lack of replay value. Once you beat the Penguin a second time, you’re pretty much done. No real unlockables or bonuses. You can try beating the game on a higher difficulty level, but it won’t get you anything but bragging rights. Also, while a solid game, there’s little that’s truly spectacular about it, aside from the graphics. So while not up to the high standards set by games like (you guessed it) Super Metroid, Batman Returns is very good when set against the low standards of movie tie-in games often designed solely to take advantage of a name rather than trying to make a good product. For this reason, I’d give it a 7/10.