In the comics, his costume's about to be updated with golden armour bands, but here Batman sports his familiar dark costume. And not before time: there's something fishy going on and only he suspects the truth.

Christmas is usually the time of year when families spend time with their loved ones. Happiness fills the air, as do the snowflakes of winter.

But in Gotham City, certain individuals who are out to ruin the festive period. A seemingly friendly group of entertainers, the Red Triangle Circus gang, have arrived in the city. While performing tricks and stunts to smiling audiences, they're also carrying out criminal activities for a bizarre sewer-dwelling creature known as The Penguin.

Abandoned by his wealthy parents as a baby, the hideously-deformed Penguin was forced to live in the sewers. Now the time is right for him to emerge and wreak revenge on Gotham's rich.

By saving the Mayor's child, he becomes a hero. The city is consumed by Penguin-mania as they take the half bird-man to their hearts.

Hear me roar!

But one man doubts the words and deeds of the sewer man. Batman has sworn to protect Gotham and soon realises the activities of the Red Triangle gang and the appearance of The Penguin are somehow connected.

Search for the evil-doers. Batman soon finds himself wanted by the police for a murder he didn't commit. The Dark Knight knows The Penguin and his associate, the mysterious Catwoman. are responsible but he has his work cut out bringing them to justice.

Batman Returns is a one-player platform game where you take control of the masked one himself. Trek through five challenging stages, battling bad guys as you go, and stop The Penguin in his tracks.

At the start of each stage you've the option of travelling one of two different routes. One route is usually easier than the other but only practice and perseverance reveals the safest path.

Running 'Rangs around them

The side-scrolling levels are negotiated in a variety of ways. The joypad moves Batman left or right and pressing Down makes him duck. However, walking is rarely the safest option.

Platforms and objects are ideal places to fix your grappling hook, which doubles as a weapon. Stand underneath a sturdy object and press Up and button [2]. The grappling hook shoots out and sticks to it. Press Up and Batman climbs the rope; press Left and Right to swing.

Batman's also armed with his trusty Batarang. This razor-sharp weapon is thrown at villains with deadly results!

As Batman makes his way through each section, special items are found. These include extra speed, lives and an icon to increase the strength and distance of your Batarang. Start the game with three lives but increase them when you can.

Batman Returns features unlimited continues so once a stage is completed, you start from there when you lose all your lives. Even with all this help. Batman's in for a tough time!

Tim submits… ‘UNORIGINAL’

It's definitely not cricket! Batman has returned and he's going to have it out with Catwoman, the lucky so-and-so. I'm just off to p-p-p-pick up a Penguin, then I'll tell you what I thought of this Gothic cart...

...It was okay but nothing stunning, I'm afraid. The animation's crisp, backdrops are cool, but the sound is a limp lettuce. The main tune's weak and effects are sparse — the Master System can do a lot better.

Climbing onto platforms is a bit of a problem at first but gameplay isn't too bad, although I believe the difficulty was upped to make up for mediocre gameplay. Unfortunately this makes Batman Returns more of a frustration than a challenge.

Overall, not disastrous but far from brilliant Sega should have concentrated more on the sound quality and entertainment value.

TIM 62%

Mat flaps... 'A POOR PLATFORM EFFORT'

After reviewing the efforts of very single Batman cart Sega have produced — the first movie game, Revenge Of The Joker and this game on other systems — I can honestly say that the Caped Crusader is better off in his comics.

Why can't Sega do anything good with Batman? He's tailor-made for console games, with his rogues' gallery of villains, Bat-devices and explosive, action-packed stories. Yet he's failed to make an impact on the console world.

The Master System version suffers from every possible fault. It's basically the same as the Game Gear version but some vital elements have been left out

For a start, the first guardian Batman faces is the only thing on the screen — the background's completely black! On the GG there was a street in the background and snow falling. Were the programmers just lazy or what?

A useful item left out of the conversion is the Batmobile. In the handheld version, pressing pause summons Batman's car, which unleashes a volley of fire, destroying bad guys and draining energy from bosses. Now you have to face guardians on your own — and some are really tough.

Visually, Batman Returns is very poor, with small sprites and bad collision detection. The music's basic and sound FX too tinny.

My advice is to steer clear of this cart. It stinks worse than yesterdays diapers.

MAT 36%

Paul whispers... 'SINISTER'

As Jimmy Tarbuck used to say, 'We have a difference of opinion here.' Mat isn't too keen at all while I agree with Timmy: Batman Returns is good except for the fact it's too hard! I mean, you lose a life when Batman gets punched or hit by an enemy's weapon. Not exactly the stuff superheroes are made of, is it? If it wasn't for this single flaw, we'd have a great game on our hands.

The graphics are very good, especially Batman himself, and backgrounds are suitably sinister. The gameplay's generally very good; levels are packed full of fiendish puzzles which require skilful use of the grappling hook and Batarang. The trouble is, after all the hard work, a bad guy pops up from nowhere and gives you a clout around the head. Bye-bye, one life!

Sega had the potential for a great game but yet again they've wasted it. A definite try before you buy.

PAUL 64%

MF Rating

Graphics
42
Sound
29
Playability
36
Lastability
58

54

Batman's latest could have been something special. Instead it's a below average platform romp

Rating
54
Reviewer
Sega Master Force magazine
Region
UK
Scans
Sega Master Force - Issue 1

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