Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Batman Returns is a digital translation of one of the biggest blockbuster movies of last year..
Guide Batman through five levels whilst disposing of his enemies — beat the bosses to progress further.
Bruce Wayne, he of the macabre fancy dress tendencies and practised lack of humour, has witnessed many crimes in his gloomy life — most of which he wishes he hadn't, yet nothing that a well controlled psychosis can't handle. As Batman, Bruce is the villain's nemesis — a fly-by-night, swooping spanner in the works for all would-be master criminals. The most recent mayhem makers are Catwoman, lashing out with whip, lip and hip beside her fellow conspirator, the Penguin — he of the foul language and the deadly assortment of umbrellas. He relies on the dreaded Clown Gang to carry out all of the dirty work for him!
Of course it's up to Bruce, as Batman, to put a stop to anything that the terrible two are planning (currently the framing of an innocent Batman for murder) as he battles against the Penguin's Red Triangle Circus Gang in his fight for justice. Who's got the job of exercising control
There is more than one way to cross the occasional gaping chasm of doom. If there is no place to attach the grappling hook and thereby swing across, Batman may chance an extended leap with the aid of his cope. Keeping your finger on the jump button after leaping causes Batman to open his cape and glide a few pixels more to safety.
Batman has a choice of routes to take on his way to the final confrontation with the Penguin. Route one is always slightly easier and presents Batman with slightly less platform problems and enemy interference. Hardened crime fighters are advised to take the second route for a greater challenge.
You may marvel at the web-slinging antics of Spider-Man and gasp at the billy club-related tomfoolery Daredevil but Batman swings with the best of them too! There are many occasions throughout his mission where a grappling hook proves itself useful. Sometimes it is a ledge too far out of reach that the grapple makes short work of, or even a perilous hole in the ground that is easily swung over. The grappling hook is also very painful should anyone find themselves on the wrong end of it — use it to dispose of foes that your other weapons can't reach.
o further assist our hero in his ordeal a few bats are found in specific locations, happily flapping their wings waiting to deliver a helpful item to their master. To show his gratitude Batman chucks a Batarang at them. Shock! These are the rewards of such malice:
Batman has a selection of small artillery to choose from along with a rather more formidable special weapon that he employs in tight situations:
After the disappointment of the Megadrive version, I'm pleased to report that the Game Gear translation of Batman Returns is surprisingly good. Unlike the Megadrive game, this is fast and extremely playable. The graphics are excellent, capturing the atmosphere of the decent movie extremely well. But like Paul I do have my doubts about the lastability of the game. There just aren't enough levels to make the game last long enough. However, I do admire the choice of routes idea — it's a lot less artificial than adjusting a difficulty level on an option screen and also enables you to switch difficulties after each level, so if there's a level you can complete with ease, you can challenge yourself with the second route. As it is, Batman Returns is a decent enough cart that novice players will probably glean the most enjoyment out of, but experienced gamers should steer clear..
All in all this is very impressive. The presentation of this cart is very tasteful, all the graphics are very neat and certainly more pleasing than their Megadrive counterparts. In fact the portable rendition of the Batman Returns theme plays far better too. Batman himself is expertly animated and looks stylish in every situation, responding to instructions from the joypad perfectly. Having the choice of two routes in each level is a bit of a bonus considering that this effectively gives the player two games in one, the second route being considerably more challenging than the first. The boss characters are imaginative in their attack patterns — Catwoman is far more entertaining here when compared to her Megadrive routine. Though I doubt that the cart will pose much of a challenge to experienced gamesplayers there is still plenty packed in here to sustain interest. The big problem is that it is all over so quickly despite the alternative routes available. Batman Returns is definitely a cart to consider adding to your collection.