Ah, Batman: The Animated Series. My childhood would have been a lesser one without you. There was nothing like getting home from school and tuning into another one of the Dark Knight’s superbly written adventures. It was always amazing. Heck, the intro alone was better than most shows that were on at the time! And I always loved how the show never treated us like we were immature. If the Ninja Turtles was what I watched for fun, then Batman TAS was what I looked to for drama.
But I’m not here to talk about the show. This is all about The Adventures of Batman and Robin, a SNES game based around the award-winning cartoon. Can lightning strike twice and create a game as good as this legendary series? Let’s find out…
Think of this game as Batman variety hour. In most Batman games the standard model for developers has been the beat-em up. While there are remnants of that here, it is far from the main focus. Every level operates around its own individual premise, ensuring that the game remains fresh throughout the entire experience. No gameplay fatigue here!
Batman controls almost perfectly, with the ability to roll, wall jump, and even throw a disarming batarang at gun-wielding goons! I also love how you can use the bat grapple at any time, and it even combos with other moves. This game makes you feel more like Batman than any game before the Arkham series!
As for the levels themselves, they begin with a bit of setup in the form of conversations between The Batman and his partners in crime fighting. These are enjoyable in any sense, but fans of the show will be in for a treat here! Dialogue is similar to the way the show presents itself, and on more than one occasion I could hear the voice actors as I read the lines! After the exposition we are sent to a menu-based Batcave in order to equip ourselves for the fight to come. The rule of thumb is to use common sense and take the gadgets that the game suggests, such as the gas mask for the Scarecrow level. Some levels are incredibly difficult without taking the heeded advice, though this could be seen as adding additional challenge if you wanted to try this.
Then it’s off to stop the plot of the game’s ne’er-do-wells, all of which are expertly represented. Each level acts as a mini-episode of the series, with many taking direct inspiration from the show. A great example of this is the Riddler level, where you spend the first part of the level in a maze, and the second part in a VR program! Both of these scenarios are from the animated series! I also love how each level fits with its antagonist, whether you are chasing Catwoman over the rooftops of Gotham City or attempting to escape Joker’s “fun-filled” deathtraps. All of this culminates in a final gauntlet where you will face all the bosses-plus a few additional super villains that show up just for kicks! The only weak point I noticed was the Batmobile stage. While it was pretty cool getting to drive the iconic vehicle, the controls were a bit dodgy and the villain never left his car! A wasted opportunity considering the slew of great driving games on the system.
The boss battles operate more as set-pieces than true boss encounters. But that is not to say that I see this as a bad thing. While the bosses may be beaten similarly, it is the surroundings that differentiate them. You fight Scarecrow on the wings of a plane! The Penguin duels you as a helicopter sprays you with gunfire at the same time! Catwoman is fought while in FREEFALL!!!! It is in these encounters that the game shows off the system’s capabilities.
That is not to say the levels themselves lack in graphical capability! The Adventures of Batman and Robin does its inspiration justice with dark and accurate visual presentation. The first level where a dark Gotham scrolls in the background just nails all the right buttons. Other visual awesomeness to consider is the Riddler’s chessboard and a Zeppelin sequence later in the game that is just jaw dropping. Major characters are also done in the exact styling of the TV series, and the animation was equally impressive. The game is no slouch in the music department either. I really could have been watching the show with how good this music is in this game. Villain themes are remixed and even the original pieces fit the mood of the game.
Everything is tied together by a password system that lets you start from your favorite level. That means if you dislike a certain section of the game then you will only have to experience it once … unless you play on hard mode. The Adventures of Batman and Robin on hard is one of the SNES’ greatest challenges. You must beat the entire game in one sitting with only three lives. Enemies hit harder and you are only awarded an extra life every 50,000 points! To anyone who considers themselves a difficulty hound, I dare you to try this! It is on par with Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts …
Now many people like to complain that there is no 2-player mode, but I really don’t understand this line of thinking. Sure, it’s called The Adventures of Batman and ROBIN, but anyone who has watched the show knows the focus for 2/3rds of it was on the Dark Knight. Not to mention that I really do not think that this game would have worked all that well as a 2-player effort. It’s not like its a beat em up or a game-type that could have benefited from this treatment. Play the game and see for yourself what I’m talking about. It just would not have FELT right.
So aside from the weak Batmobile sequence, what we are left with is yet another solid Konami effort on the Super Nintendo, complete with the license to one of my favorite characters! To fans of action games, I recommend it. But for fans of the animated series, THIS IS MANDATORY!! There is just too much love for the source material contained within to not play it! Sure, they could have included MORE villains. And MAYBE they could have added a co-op mode. But a game can ALWAYS be better, and taken for what it is, it’s absolutely solid.
COMING HOME, ALFRED!!!
4 out of 5 stars
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