Batman (NES) Review

By Athanasios 13.04.2020

Review for Batman on NES

Batman. Now that this has your attention, let it be said once and for all: 8-bit era licensed games suck. At least most of the time, as once in a while, some exceptions to the rule would eventually pop up. The loose adaptation of Tim Burton's take on the Caped Crusader, Sunsoft's Batman for the NES, was one such exception… although, to be honest, that's not really saying much, as the bar wasn't exactly set very high when it came to those kind of titles, thus decent was usually considered "as good as it gets." 30 years after it hit the West, here's a look at both the good and the bad of what was arguably one of the best old-school titles featuring the Dark Knight.

Joker's at it again, and Batman is fortunately there to take care of him. Being an NES game, this of course means going from level to level, beating the living doo-doo out of all kinds of baddies. An action-platformer at heart, this actually emphasises on both aspects, with the hero having to master his acrobatics, while also learning how to deal with the enemies and traps that are scattered all around Gotham - and it is acrobatics, since a great majority of the experience revolves around using a wall jump to go from flat surface to surface, either to reach a platform, or to avoid damage. It should also be noted that Batman doesn't control like Mario, and is much stiffer than usual. Surprisingly, while the controls feel slow, and "heavy," they are otherwise flawless - tight, and very responsive.

Screenshot for Batman on NES

Although responsive, that's not to say that the controls don't need some getting used to, especially since this adventure expects you to become quite proficient with them, due to all stages being littered with hazards of all kinds, which will make you bleed your precious health bars, something that players don't have the luxury of doing. Yes, in case you haven't heard about it already, Batman is hard; literally one of the most challenging of its kind, and quite possible one of the top three hardest Batman titles ever created. Actually… this isn't exactly true.

The levels themselves are tough, sure, and a bit trial-and-error-y, but you'll manage to learn how to beat every single one soon enough, with not much hair-pulling involved. Running enemies can indeed be insanely annoying, as they are too fast, while Brucie has the reflexes of a sloth, with a small delay every time a button is pressed, and a tendency for his punches to miss targets that go kamikaze on his leather-clad behinds, which means that it's usually better to rely on the Caped Dude's three extra weapons, like his fast batarangs, his somewhat slower tiny rocket-shooting pistol, and a weird spread shot.

Screenshot for Batman on NES

No, the real troubles begin with the bosses. This is where the difference in speed between Batman and his opponents becomes really annoying, as he moves like a brick, while everyone else goes… Ninja Gaiden on him, not letting the one holding the controller breathe for a millisecond, especially when it comes to some of the bosses near the end, like with Joker's number one guy (it's not Bob). In the end, however, it's all about learning patterns, and, even worse, about exploiting some sort of weakness these have. The very first boss, for example, can be beaten by simply finding the correct spot to stand, and then keep on shooting batarangs at him. Oh, yeah. Although some bosses are actually easier to fight with a little bit of punching, try to save your ammunition for the end of each stage.

Screenshot for Batman on NES

Aggravating as the challenge on offer may be, that's not really what hurts this action-platformer. Batman is… well, just another video game, to be perfectly honest. It's not one of those dime-a-dozen titles that were common at the time, as it's actually more enjoyable to play than those, yet it lacks that extra something which could make it stand out. This is just… good. Great compared to other licensed titles, but, on its own, it is just… good. Nevertheless, back in the day many a young NES nerd actually loved this. Why? Well, the audio-visuals weren't just good. They were awesome!

If there's one thing that this nails, that would be its atmosphere, which captures that eerie aura of nighttime Gotham City from the moment you turn on the console. The NES is rarely good at dark and gritty graphics, yet this achieves exactly that, with a varied set of levels, where everything seems to be one step away from being completely enveloped in the shadows. Add to that some neat "cut-scenes," and a fantastic rock and metal (yes, metal) collection of tunes by Sunsoft's magician Naoki Kodaka (go check Laboratory Ruins), and you are in for an 8-bit treat. Despite the forgettable gameplay, that is…

Screenshot for Batman on NES

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Like all licensed titles, action-platformer Batman for the NES, was product first, and something meant to be entertaining a distance second. That being said, it's definitely one of the best of its "kind," even if the gameplay doesn't have much to so for, apart from a hard-as-nails difficulty, especially when it comes to the head honchos of each chapter. On the bright side, it's a beautiful and appropriately dark game, with some of the best music that can be found on the system.

Developer

Sunsoft

Publisher

SunSoft

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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