Batman: The Video Game (NES)

Batman: The Video Game Box Art

Batman: The Video Game

System: NES

Release Date: February 1990

Developer: Sunsoft

Publisher: Sunsoft

Genre: Action

Video games based on movies have been mostly poor up to this point, but Batman: The Video Game bucks this trend by being a wonderful action platforming title. Modeled after the 1989 film, Sunsoft crafts a good, responsive adaptation for the NES. The 200th anniversary of Gotham City is coming up, but there’s not too much to celebrate, as the Joker has taken over. It’s up to the Caped Crusader himself to traverse 5 areas and 12 levels in order to free the city of the psychotic shenanigans of the evil clown.

Batman controls precisely, running left and right, ducking, jumping, punching, and shooting his Batweapons. Jumping is activated with the A Button. Depending on how long you press the button, Batman will jump different heights. There’s also an easy to pull off wall jump, which you have to master by the final level. Attacking works with the B Button. The default are Batman’s punches, which can be thrown rapidly if you’re a quick tapper. The Batweapons can be cycled through with the Start Button. The Batarang takes one unit of ammo, is thrown forward and then comes back, injuring the enemy multiple times. The Spear Gun takes two units of ammo and rockets forward at the enemy. The Disk takes three units of ammo and splits into three, allowing a wider area of attack.

The levels are all linear and throw enemies at you in an attempt to stop your progress. Enemies can mostly be destroyed with a flurry of punches, but sometimes the weapons are your best option, especially against the Jader. Don’t worry too much about running out of ammo, there are mine droppers that you can repeatedly destroy to stock up on bullets and life. This is especially useful right before the final battle. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll eventually make it to the boss of the level. They each have their patterns of movement and attack. Once you learn the safe spots to stand, you’ll be able to put them down.

The final path to Joker is pretty sadistic overall. You are forced to wall jump up a clock tower, avoiding spinning gears and timing your jumps to attack enemies sitting on ledges. Until you’re a pro, you’ll limp through this area and into the two-part final boss. Once you beat Firebug, it’s face to face with the Clown Prince himself. And then he’ll blast you with his gun and you’ll be dead. If you lose your lives, you have unlimited continues to give it another shot. Luckily, when you beat Firebug, he’s dead for good and you go straight to the Joker fight when you get back. It took me a dozen tries, but I finally hit him with about 50 batarangs without dying and sent him flying off the tower to his death. So much for not killing people…

Graphics: 3.0

The color palette chosen is dark, but that’s to fit the Batman motif. Sprites are animated very well and look quite sharp.

Sound: 3.5

I think Batman’s music is great. There’s a great driving beat and the melodies are all catchy.

Gameplay: 3.0

Batman controls very well. He has enough weapons to get through any situation and the wall jump is invaluable.

Difficulty: 3.5

The individual levels are littered with enemies and traps to end your day, but careful playing will get you through to the end as you have unlimited continues.

Fun Factor: 3.5

There are a couple of places that feel more frustrating the fun, level 3-1, I’m looking at you!

Overall Grade: 3.3

Batman: The Video Game earns a B+. I don’t know how long it will take for a movie based game to be as good as this one, but you don’t want to miss out.

Batman: The Video Game Video Review on YouTube