So, I just finished a Batman game not too long ago and decided that it was time to find another game to play. But my Bat-Itch had not been completely scratched despite having played through an excellent Batman game and spending an entire week in the shadows, springing into the light only to snag my unsuspecting children, tie them up, and leave them suspended from the ceiling upside-down until the authorities showed up.
After convincing the judge it was legitimate Batman training, she let me off with a warning and suggested I play another Batman game. Pfft, like I wasn’t going to do that anyway. But which Batman game? There are so many to choose from. But, if I limit it to only the good Batman games, that narrows it down quite a bit. I decided to pick one from the 16-bit era this time around.
I started looking through my SNES and Genesis library for anything that was not Batman Forever, and then I saw it: The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis. A buddy and I used to play the hell out of that game on the Sega Channel. Plus, it’s based off of Batman: The Animated Series, the greatest thing to ever happen to Batman and TV animation. I don’t mean to sound hyperbolic, but I truly believe that. It had the best Batman (Kevin Conroy), the best Joker (Mark Hamill), it made Mr. Freeze a unique, relatable, and relevant character, and it introduced the world to Harley Quinn.
With its great characters, plots, and animation, BTAS was a perfect introduction to Batman for me. And not just me; it introduced an entire generation to the Batman Universe. So you know the series holds a very special place in my heart, and that’s why seeing The Adventures of Batman & Robin on the shelf really caught my eye. With high expectations and my rose-tinted glasses equipped, I booted up the game and choked back my giggles of childish joy and my carefree smile. BECAUSE BATMAN NEVER SMILES!
Game: The Adventures of Batman & Robin
Console: Sega Genesis
Developer: Clockwork Tortoise
Release Year: 1995
I have to say, I went into this game raring to go! It’s been awhile since I played this one, so I couldn’t wait to start kicking some ass! You can imagine my surprise when I saw this:
Are those Batarangs or his granny’s coasters?
LAME! What the hell is that shit!? I remember the game being like a run ‘n gun, but I don’t remember the Batarangs being so girlie. You can grab other weapons like ninja stars and that thing he throws that wraps around people’s feet to make them trip, but those are super tiny, too. Granted, once you collect a bunch of the same power up the weapons get bigger and more powerful, but that’s not the point! I’m the goddamn Batman! Throwing shit should be my secondary weapon, used only to hit guns out of dudes’ hands and explode dynamite mid-air.
That’s more like it!
As you could guess, the game didn’t give me a good first impression. I quickly regained some steam when I discover the little bar beneath your score in the top left corner. It’s a power bar that charges up by you not throwing things, and when it’s charged your Batarangs will catch fire or something and be much stronger, adding some strategy to the game. That’s always good. Next to the charge bar is your life, which is a heart surrounded by orange tick marks. The tick marks represent how many hits you can take, which is a lot, and the number in the middle indicates how many lives you have. To replenish your tick marks, you have to collect hearts. I almost turned the game off.
This is not okay.
The only time anyone should ever see Batman next to hearts is when you were in elementary school and you bought that pack of cheap-cardboard Batman Valentine’s Day cards to give to everyone in class because you had to give one to everyone in class because the teacher said so. Man, what a dumb holiday.
Even Batman can’t make this holiday relevant.
I decided to keep playing. After all, I am playing as Batman, and I don’t have to collect hearts like a sissy if I don’t wanna. It turns out continuing was a great idea. I soon discovered something glorious: Melee attacks! I found if you’re close to an enemy and press the attack button Batman will throw a punch, kick, or headbutt. Of course, that meant I’d have to play the rest of the game entirely using melee attacks.
Onomatopoeia makes everything better.
I went through the entire first level punching and drop kicking all Joker’s henchmen. Then, the first boss appeared: a big, blue and white tank. I quickly analyzed the situation, assessed all my options, and then went with my best and obvious course of action:
This turned out to be a terrible idea because the tank retaliated with its “run over” technique. It was super effective! Dejected, I was forced to cower in the corner and chuck Batarangs at it as it shot lasers at me. Eventually, I hit it with enough things to cause the top of the tank to to pop open, revealing none other than Harley Quinn.
Throwing bombs only makes you more attractive.
About a thousand Batarangs to the face later, Harley admits defeat by escaping on her rocket chair, which is exactly what I’d put in my custom-made circus tank designed specifically Batman killing. I have to give her props for taste.
The level then picks back up inside a jewelry store, then it goes to some warehouse, then finally it has Batman jumping on top of cars speeding down a street, culminating with a fight against the Joker and his hot air balloon.
And all this happens on the first level! And it takes about 20 minutes! That’s a ludicrous amount of time for a single level in a run ‘n gun platformer! Thank God there are only 4 levels in the game because every level is this long or longer! What makes it worse is the music. All the music in the game sounds like you’re walking past a Holister or something. It’s not at all what I’d associate with Batman.
Seriously, I’m pretty sure the Batwing section on the second level takes about 15 minutes by itself. It never ends! To top it off, it’s not even that fun. It’s only cool because you’re in the Batwing, but the novelty wears off quickly. Also, the final level boss is a helicopter. I’m sorry, but, last time I checked, “Helicopter” was not in Batman’s rogues gallery. They do show Two-Face earlier in the level, but I don’t want to assume I’m fighting Two-Face. I want to fight Two-Face. Fighting a generic helicopter is not fun, especially after playing the world’s longest and most boring shmup level.
The only thing I can figure is that the developers wanted to stay true to the source material, so they made each level last as long as an episode of the show. Well, they succeeded, thankfully beyond just episode-length levels. All the characters look like their TV counterparts, and the animation is top notch. The game looked so good, I thought I was playing an SNES game!
Despite how great the game looks, in the end, it’s just not that fun. Mainly because it’s too damn long! I got so bored that I started headbutting everything I could just to feel something!
It doesn’t matter; the game’s already numbed my brain.
By the time I got to Mr. Freeze at the end of the fourth level, I’d given up. I didn’t even try to dodge any of the stupid robots and crap he sent my way. Not only was I drained from the half-hour levels, but now I had to fight using the stupid rocket belt. This made the level ridiculously and needlessly hard.
I finally beat him, and then the game ended. At the time, I had no idea he was the boss of the game. Once the ending started rolling, I breathed a sigh of relief and turned that shit off.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin is a technically impressive title for the Genesis and is initially very fun; however, the game overstays its welcome with tremendously long levels. The fact that it has no save points or even a password system to allow you to stop and pick up where you left off is painful. You have to finish the entire game in one shot. And that is truly an extraordinary and thankless feat.
The game really is pretty good. I’m sure it’d have been better had I played it with a buddy. But, since I’m an adult with a wife, children, and a full-time career, and my friends are adults with wives, children, and full-time careers, it’s kind of hard to get together to play a 17-year-old game! Okay, Batman!
Anyway, Thanks for your Reading! And make sure you come back next week for a non-Batman-related game because, frankly, this game wore me out. And, if you don’t come back next week, Batman will stare at you in your sleep!