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Batman: The Movie

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Batman: The Movie

Ocean Software (1989)

Synopsis

Entering the Axis Chemical Plant to apprehend delinquent, Jack Napier, things take a turn for the worse and the Joker is born. Batman must use every resource he has to foil the wicked plans of the master-villain.

You ever dance with the devil...?


Graphics

Pros:

Colourful graphics, large clean sprites, smooth scrolling (for the CPC)!


Cons:

Batman has a blue suit...?





Sound

Pros:

Each level is complemented with a wonderful soundtrack.


Cons:

The soundtrack's briefly muted whilst a primary sound effect is engaged.





Gameplay

Pros:

Excellent variation of game styles across levels.


Cons:

Dark themes may leave the game seeming a little joyless.




Graphics

Pros:

The first level has crisp sprites and backgrounds. Reliably smooth scrolling.


Cons:

Unusually slow character movement particularly when falling. Driving elements are bland.





Sound

Pros:

The Commodore thumps the tune out with the bass dial turned to 11.


Cons:

You can either play the soundtrack or the sound effects, but not both. No, siree!





Gameplay

Pros:

There's a good deal of diverse gameplay in there.


Cons:

The character's sluggishness might just ruin it a little.




Graphics

Pros:

Excellent visuals and best rendition of the Batarang / grappling hook, by far.


Cons:

It's monochrome all the way baby, yeah!





Sound

Pros:

Amazing music for the Spectrum, but bear in mind this is the 128k version!


Cons:

Similar problems as the Amstrad in not feeding the soundtrack and FX simultaneously in places.





Gameplay

Pros:

It's a fast and very respectable version of the game.


Cons:

The monochrome lets it down even with 128k to hand.



Oh, I Got a Live One Here!




In the late summer of 1989, a new Batman movie was released to cinema chains with an air of unrivalled expectancy. The hype machine was set to full throttle, along with a restless public eager to discover how Warner Bros might surpass the high camp of the 1966 original. The expectation from many was exactly that; that it would just be an extension of the previous film's tone and styling. In fact, here began (save for Batman & Robin) a new wave of dark and brooding Batman movies.


That year was also an incredibly busy one with many changes afoot in the UK. Sky TV had become the latest extra terrestrial in demand, "Home & Away" surfed to our shores, Salman Rushdie penned a book that forced him into obscurity having had a fatwa issued against him ordering his execution, and 'Dirty Den' Watts was killed off (allegedly) in the ever-popular new soap on the block, Eastenders. And, all of this only happened in the same month as my eighteenth birthday! Daniel Radcliffe was also born less than one month before the release of Batman. Is anyone feeling old yet?


The quality of film tie-ins was usually pretty sub-standard, especially during a time where every game felt like a bit of an experiment in the name of progress! Most gamers will know that the current Batman franchise is incredibly successful and, thankfully, this is the result of its 8-bit predecessors pulling some major punches and cementing their place in video game history. The Batman franchise has since frolicked in triumph, towering far above superhero contemporaries, Spiderman and Superman.


The game begins with you, as the Caped Crusader, progressing through the Axis Chemical Plant in search of Jack Napier; a seasoned criminal, and the man behind the demise of our hero's parents. The first level is based around the platforming genre and sees you capable of moving in any of the four cardinal directions, wherever possible. Climbing up or down platforms can be easily achieved by using ladders, or by simply jumping down from one platform to the other. You can also use your grappling hook to hoist you up onto a platform. This method also allows you to hook onto a platform and swing from left to right so that you can get over to a difficult position or avoid enemy fire.

Every game felt like a bit of an experiment in the name of progress!

It would have been an easier task though if it wasn't for those meddling henchmen, and they fire at will or lob acid bombs towards you without hesitation. You can fire your Batarang at them or jump on them from a height to render them unconscious. Finally, you Batarang Jack off of a ledge and straight into a vat of Axis chemicals, which causes him to become the derailed 'Joker'. If the henchmen take successful pot shots at you then a picture of the Batman gradually transforms into the Joker upon each hit. Death knocks on your door once the image of the Joker fully supplants that of the Batman.


But wait until you get a load of the second level where you go to the Batmobile! Here, you speed along the streets of Gotham avoiding heavy traffic flows as you struggle to beat a countdown timer. An arrow will show you the direction you need to take and will eventually point to a turning ahead. Naturally, a dark knight's ego goes way beyond "mirrors, signal, manoeuvre" and a grappling hook simply shoots out, latches onto a lamp post, and swings you into the new road. That's as long as your timing is on point.


Things slow down for the third level where you head off to the Batcave to mix & match all of the elements that may form Smilex, a lethal chemical that the Joker had somehow underhandedly combined into everyday beauty products, until you figure out the correct combination through a process of elimination.


So, onto the next level and you take Batwing for a spin, much akin to the premise of level two. Here you cruise through Gotham's streets whilst the Joker is holding a parade. However, he's had poisonous gas-filled ballons tied to the floats, and you must cut these loose with the aid of the Batwing before they're burst and the gas is released into the atmosphere. This means cutting the tie string and not the balloons themselves so that they can rise to safety far away from the populous city.


The last level is something of a retread of the first, however this is based within the rat-infested Gotham Cathedral. Several henchmen later and you find the Joker climbing a flimsy helicopter ladder. One well aimed grappling hook towards the Joker sends him off free-falling down the side of the cathedral and making a mess of the pavement below.


All things considered, "Batman: The Movie" is a pretty decent all-rounder of a game. I like how the gameplay tries to avoid repetition by alternating between platform, vehicle, and puzzle-based action. Broadly speaking, all of these components combine well to provide a cohesively structured and entertaining game.


As an aside (it's not within the remit of this site), I also wholeheartedly recommend the 16-bit Amiga version of this game.




Graphics

Excellently animated sprites and smooth scrolling all round with very little to fault.


Sound

At last a game where its music feels like an accompaniment rather than a sub-game of "Hunt the 'Music Off' key".


Gameplay

Varying level styles will ensure that your attention doesn't stray too far.


Overall

It's a game with few let-downs, however, due to the nature of the subject matter, it may come across as too dark and lacking in fun elements. It also suffers from an absence of originality in that once you've seen a henchman, for instance, you've basically seen them all.



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Platform Winners

Overall Ranking

81

8th Place

Our highest rated game of 1989

Our highest rated action adventure game

Screenshots

...click here to enlarge

ROMs

Amstrad: download
Commodore: download
Spectrum: download

Video Review

Pixel8Games'pick of 1989

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