Batman: Return of the Joker

Return of the Joker

Box Shot
Batman: Return of the Joker
Platform: NES
Publisher: Sunsoft
Designer: Sunsoft
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1992
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

Some people tend to forget that Batman was a comic book hero before he became a movie star. Yet Sunsoft remembered. Yes, Sunsoft, who made the excellent translation of the movie version by not following the storyline at all, made another game in Batman saga, this time not really based off of anything in specific. This added degree of creativity lets the creators plan out their game better. And Batman: Return of the Joker is the result of that.

The Joker is apparently back, and is causing another big crime wave throughout Gotham City. If I really need to tell you who's gonna stop him, then please, log off your computer, call the local mental hospital, and check in. It'll be for the better. Anyway, the look of the hero is much different...he's wearing an outfit more similar to the comic book. The mood has also changed...although still dark, it's a differeent style than the dinginess of the original NES Batman.

The gameplay itself has changed drastically. No longer do you have to rely entirely on your fists...at the very least, you have a wimpy gun to use. There are crates spread throughout each level. When destroyed, they yield weapons icons. By shooting these icons, you can choose which of the four available weapons you want. When obtained, you may use the weapon until you die or get another one. You can't run out of energy for it. These weapons can also be charged up by holding down the B button, letting out a powerful shot. There are also other power icons to be collected...get eight of them and you'll don an invincible pwer suit that crunches through enemies.

Additionally, the graphics are much bigger, taking up a rather large portion of the screen. It may seem a bit claustrophobic at the beginning, since you don't have a large area to move around, but you will probably get used to it. Again, because of the bulkiness, the characters may seem hard to control, especially when jumping. It requires a bit of practice, since Batman can't jump very high or far, and landing on moving platforms can be hard at first.

Like any other action game, you'll meet a boss at the end of each level. However, the life meter changes in these parts of the game. Instead of just taking eight hits like in the normal game, you have 80,000 life points, and the boss is measured in numbers as well (ranging from 40,000 to 120,000.) You can take plenty more hits in this mode...this is an excellet idea, without it you'd die too quickly. The bosses still require plenty of strategy, knowing when to jump, attack, and duck. Just remember that ducking under most projectiles won't work; you need to slide under them.

The levels themselves require a bit of strategy themself. You'll never beat the third level if you don't learn to take it slow through the area. The last level will be impossible unless you learn where to duck and dodge the flying robots. When you die, you get sent back to the beginning of the level...they usually aren't too long, so it isn't badd. Unlimited continues and passwords help too. Still, when you lose all lives at a boss, you're sent back to the level before it. This is to let you regain a better weapon for the boss, but this doesn't work in stage six...if you die in 6-3 (the boss), you're sent back to 6-2, where there's no power-ups whatsoever. You're near defenseless when fighting the Joker. Unless you remember to copy down the 6-1 password, you're screwed.

As if the amazing character graphics weren't stunning enough for a Nintendo, the backgrounds are also awesome. It's hard to believe this isn't a 16-bit game, with effects like the scrolling clouds in the first level. Amazing! The animation isn't quite as good as the remarkable standards set by the first Batman, but they're still nice nonetheless. The music bares a slight resemblance to the tunes in Gremlins 2...which is a very good thing. They'll all very good and worth listening too.

If you want to see some of the best graphics the Nintendo has to offer, it's worth checking out Batman: Return of the Joker. It's a very fun game to play, even if it gets too frantic for such small room to move in. And even though it is on the short side, the difficulty factor will keep you on your toes.