Oh little song, little dance, Batman’s head on a lance. Tell me what do you know about The Batman? As in Tim Burton’s Batman movie. It gets a bad rap but honestly it was pretty great. Made even better with it’s tie-in NES game which was also pretty good. Hard as all hell, but pretty dang good.
The first thing I have to point out is the game isn’t really that close to the movie, and the movie isn’t that close to Batman, and it hits this odd place being 3 times removed from it’s source material it became great. Old NES licensed games are either unplayable messes or some of the finest games made. Rarely is there a middle ground of just meh games. I reckon most people didn’t like the game because of how different it was from the movie. Or newer players might find it to hard or just to different from Batman games they are used to. The current batch of Batman games have been great. The SNES era though? Not so much. Playstation up to xBox I honestly skipped so I can’t say. What I do know is I haven’t honestly touched this version since I was a kid.
It was not easy. Heck I won’t even say it was fun. What it was, was awesome. Every stage was an accomplishment. Every boss a bragging right. Because he might not have killed my parents, but Joe Chill killed my childhood. Harder than Mega Man, more precise than Ninja Gaiden, and limited ammo to a brutal degree at times. The Joker fight is as far as I ever got.
Which to me is still pretty impressive. This game feels like what you would expect an original Batman game to be like on the NES. A fast heavy hitting platformer with gadgets galore. The most over looked aspect of this game is it has no timer. You are expected to slow down, assess the situation, figure out your threats and hazards. If you stay calm and focused there is very little unfair in the game. That is until the final boss fights. I mean well, what NES game wasn’t that way with bosses.
I’d like to say the game would still have done well without Batman. Which it would have for sure, just look at Quantum Kabuki Fighter. Just would there still be some sort of discussion about it still without Batman, that one’s a no. So as odd and quirky as this Batman is, I feel he deserves more respect from the Batman community as a whole. I know this game has a somewhat dedicated fanbase as they did make this sweet figure of his NES color scheme after all.
Being Batman adjacent gives it just the right push. It helps you with the atmosphere and tone of the game. Sure the music rocks and the graphics are dark and moody, but most NES sides scrolling action games are just like that. Just they tend to be more in the techno future dystopia where as Batman is like 1940s Cyberpunk? Gotham City is weird. This game was free to explore that weirdness in it’s own way. Showing that not all licensed games need to be bad, or even be about what they are about.
Looking back they never even really said it’s Batman: The Movie: The Video Game. Rather just leaving on the more identifiable representations of the characters. Which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. I like to think now we are more used to one off or at the least side canon stuff with comics. You have to remember back then we didn’t have “Cinematic Universes” so people just didn’t really care or understand that there are different Batman timelines/worlds. This is one I’d gladly revisit in a new way. Even a comic book or animated movie maybe? The real shame is the legal mess behind rereleasing these classics. Granted emulators and reproduction carts exist. Just I still prefer to pay for things I enjoy. To show there is a market for what I am interested in. Well let’s not get crazy here I mean within reason.
That one doesn’t count. It’s really just all sorts of awful for one thing. Not to mention well impossible. Both in difficulty and story because…
Which isn’t out of line for original Batman. The old comics he killed people often, usually situationally. Sometimes legally even, the courts of Gotham used to be rather effective.
I guess what I’m getting at is comic books and video games are visual mediums. It’s usually more about the look and feel of Batman more than the story. Those old Batman movies looked great, even if the writing was super. That to me is way more important. If it looks like Batman. Because well Batman the Animated series wasn’t all serious and grounded and it is still one of the grittiest and best adaptations of Batman out there. The Nolan films were pleasant enough. I won’t say they are bad films, but are they Batman? More so than this game or the Movie it was based on? I feel we need to be more open to what we like and stop trying to box in Batman or any licensed property as having to be this or that. Mainly because if you take a far enough step back every licensed property fails at replicating the source. Even the Pokemon anime is vastly different than the games and no one seems to complain about that to much. Well they probably do Pokemon fans complain about everything Pokemon now except like Gen 3. Funny enough I don’t like Gen 3 but do like most everything else pokemon.
Look, I could be here forever talking about fandoms and why they are terrible. This isn’t about that. This is about appreciating a very solid game that could be lost to us sooner or later. So how about you go give it a shot. It shouldn’t be to hard to track down a way to play it. NES games even have passable web based emulators if you don’t want to fiddle with downloads.
Also it goes for about 20 bux on eBay if you have a NES or NES compatible device. So I’d say grab it before it’s too late. Funny thing about vintage goods, they are all limited production runs now. So before a big collector’s storm hits snag a copy. Enjoy yourself a little get a little nuts with your impulse purchases.
If I am to give it an honest review here. I’d easily put it at a solid 8. You won’t beat it, and that’s okay. Unless you can beat it then it’s probably a 9. Either way it’s worth about $20.