Batman. The ultimate superhero has enthralled and captivated people for decades on end. Many of us grew up with the Caped Crusader, wishing we could fight the evils of Gotham City like he did. Taking advantage of Nintendo's growing video game empire, not to mention the imaginations of children everywhere, Sunsoft gave us just that option. Do you want to fight evildoers and bring justice to the world, all while wielding an arsenal of deadly weapons and performing awesome aerial attacks? Then let's go back to a simpler time when accomplishing that goal was as easy as popping this game into your Nintendo Entertainment System.
I will admit that I was skeptical about playing this game. Most of us are aware that the video game industry is littered with games based on superheroes that were complete failures. Batman games have mostly been no exception to this rule, but nevertheless, I felt compelled to see for myself. In the end, I'm glad I did. I'll go over the basics of the game below and let you form your own opinion on whether you'd like to take a trip to Gotham, but if you're anything like me, you'll find this game to be well worth a playthrough.
Graphics Though the saying goes that you should never judge a book by its cover, it's difficult for most games to avoid being judged based on the first thing we see: the graphics. During the NES age, video games didn't have nearly the same graphical capabilities that today's games do, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't take advantage of the systems they were built for. Though many NES games seemed to treat graphics as an afterthought, games like Super Mario Bros. 3 showed just what the system could do. The graphics in Batman are not overly impressive, but they do a great job of conveying the dark, dire world full of criminals and kingpins that comic book fans have come to love over the years. Batman and his antagonists are easily distinguishable from the background, and every obstacle you encounter is clear as day.
Gameplay There isn't much to do in Batman's first level, but I found that to be a good thing. The simple design gives the player a chance to get used to the controls and Batman's combinations of attacks (although the variety of these attacks is slightly limited). As the game progresses, though, be prepared for some real challenges. It may be important to note that the controls themselves are quite responsive. My big complaint is that switching weapons takes far too long. Most enemies are best dealt with through the use of a particular weapon, but there is no quick way to switch weapons other than cycling through them one by one. This usually means that enemies have enough time to get an attack or two in until you settle on your weapon of choice. Another downfall that has been a recurring problem in many side-scrollers (Ninja Gaiden comes immediately to mind) is that every time you get hit, you fly backwards. Luckily there aren't many bottomless pits to fall down, so this is only a minor gripe. The rest of the gameplay in Batman is very enjoyable. There is a sweet satisfaction that comes with destroying all your enemies and reaching the end of each level that just keeps you playing.
Story Unfortunately, not a lot can really be said about the storyline in this game. There's an occasional cutscene that exists solely for the Joker to taunt you, but there really isn't much of a plot to drive the game. But really, he's Batman, justice incarnate, so you don't need much of an excuse to beat the crap out of some bad guys.
Conclusion Even though Batman is far from a perfect game, it's an example of just how deep the NES library really is. I very much enjoyed my time with it, and I think it's definitely worth a playthrough for any gamer out there that always wanted to step into the shoes of the Dark Knight and clean up the streets of Gotham.