I watched The Dark Knight Rises at the end of July. It was pretty good. I’m no critic, but I liked it, especially because it was kind of stupid. There was a lot of dumb crap in it, like when Batman somehow makes it back to Gotham from Middle-East-Country-istan with absolutely no money or means of transportation. Also, with his Batman costume. And then, knowing full-well that there’s an unstable nuclear bomb ready for detonation very soon, he made his Batman logo on the bridge out of fire, which I’m sure took hours of preparation. He was probably thinking, Sure, people’s lives are at stake, but I’m Batman! I’m obviously going to save ’em. Might as well give the people what they want (besides rescuing): an entrance!
I could seriously go on and on about all the dumb crap in this movie, but I honestly feel I’d be spoiling it for you. Instead, I’ll just say it’s good and you should go check it out if you haven’t already.
After watching the movie, I got a little bummed because I’m not Batman (it happens occassionally). Thankfully, I have video games to help me cope, and, let me tell you, Batman has a lot of video games. They span from the NES all the way to the Wii, 360, and PS Triple. Batman’s done everything from Platforming to Racing to Shmuping to Sandboxing. But the thing he’s done the most throughout the years, regarding video games, is Sucking. Until recently with Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Batman hadn’t really had a good game since the 16-bit era. Everything between then and now has been terrible for Batman. If you think about it, it really isn’t that much of a surprise. After all, they are licensed games. But, on the other hand, it’s Batman! How can you not make a good game!
Here’s one way.
However, there was one game that came out for the Bat that I think everyone can agree is amazing, and that game is Batman on the NES. In order to help placate my need to be Batman, I have (read: my wife has) decided I should stop wearing my utility belt to bed and instead play through this NES classic. Let’s ready our Christain Bale Batman-voice, dim down the lights (or chuck a Batarang at all your light bulbs for a more realistic experience), and brood about our dead parents as we take Gotham City back!
Release Year: 1990 (1989 in Japan)
Batman is very loosely based on the Tim Burton film of the same name. There are 8-bit likenesses of Keaton, Nicholson, and Basinger seen throughout the game’s cutscenes, and some of the game’s levels are inspired from the movie, such as the climactic scene at the bell tower. Beyond that, Sunsoft decided to just go crazy with robots, mutants, and cigarette-smoking ninjas. As expected, this was a great idea.
The only thing that could make that ninja cooler is if he were Batman.
I’m not kidding. Very little else in this game resembles the movie. Take the bosses for example. You have the obligatory Big Machine boss that was in every game in the ’80s for some reason:
Contra, Mega Man 2, Batman: The ’80s really hated technology.
You also have what I think is a Guts Man/Bomb Man/Mega Man hybrid with a light saber:
And two boxes:
Count ’em! Two!
I think the Predator makes an appearance as well:
How sweet would it be if this actually happened!
It’s not uncommon to play movie-based NES games that stray a bit from their source material. If fact, it’s expected. But at least Sunsoft tells you the movie’s plot and delivers on the final boss.
Like most NES games, Batman starts with text-heavy exposition that can only be seen if you’re idle on the opening screen for too long. I suppose reading is your punishment for making Batman wait. Furthermore, Sunsoft cruelly added excessive Engrish and typos just to prolong the pain.
After suffering through the story, you can press start and become Batman! And, in true Batman-fashion, you start the first level by dropping in from the sky!
I don’t care if he is purple, he’s still freaking Batman!
The first thing you’ll notice is the bad ass music! Then, you’ll see Batman in all his purple glory! In the top left corner, you can see “Batman” (just in case you forget) and a P meter. The “Batman” changes when you change your weapons, which can be done by hitting the Start button. Batman has 3 weapons: Batarangs, a gun that shoots missiles, and some kind of disc-thing that splits into 3. You may notice that one of those things doesn’t fit. You’d be right; Batman isn’t very big on guns (eventually). You’ll also notice another uncharacteristic trait of Batman: killing. Also not a thing Batman does (eventually). However, in this game, Batman will punch you until you explode!
Because everything exploded in the ’80s! EVERYTHING!
Speaking of exploding, whenever you die in this game, Batman bursts into a flaming bat before disintegrating. That shit is METAL!
I’m so jealous of your awesome death.
This P meter is your life. You have 8 hits until you’re toast, and you’re going to need all those hits because this game is hard! So be prepared to un-Batmanly get your ass handed to you over and over again. But don’t bitch at the game. Batman has tight controls and only a handful of cliffs to fall down, eliminating a lot of those Ninja Gaiden-like cheap deaths. If you died, it’s because you sucked. My only real complaint concerning the controls is that there’s a delay between hitting the jump button and Batman jumping, creating a slight learning curve. This is unfortunate for a platformer, but it’s easily managed with practice.
The difficulty and fun in Batman stem from its most appealing mechanic: the wall jump. Remember how I said those controls are tight? They don’t get any tighter then when you have to start doing some wall jumping. You can actually control how high, far, and fast Batman ricochets off walls by how long you hold down the jump button. And you’re going to need that precision because the game’s most difficult and demanding platforming sections require wall jumping through some pretty tough obstacles: acid, electric wires, buzz saws, enemy fire. All the platforming tropes-of-death are there. My favorite part in the game is on level 4-2 when you have to do some serious wall jumping to get where you need to go.
A sublime marriage of level design and game mechanics.
Here, you have to first wall jump from one rectangular platform to the other, soar over the little, purple tank enemy, catch yourself on another platform, slightly jump down to the next platform, and then land on one of those little squares. You have to do this 2-3 times in a row, and there’s no stopping because those little squares are conveyor belts. Slowing down results in slipping off and having to redo the entire course. It takes some time, but, once mastered, it’s awesome. But don’t take my word for it. Play it yourself!
Batman on the NES is a game I loved and played constantly as a kid despite never getting past the first level when I originally owned it. It didn’t really matter when you were a kid, though. The fact that you were playing as Batman was enough to cement its coolness with young gamers. It’s kind of vindicating to play it as an adult and finally beat it.
Batman is one of the Caped Crusader’s finest forays into interactive media and comes highly recommended for anyone who won’t break their controller after a few hundred measly deaths.
For future shenanigans from Thanks For Your Playing, I’ll see you next week! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Channel!
Unless you’re the Joker.