tiistai 29. marraskuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Adventures of Batman & Robin (1995)

GENRE(S): Action
DEVELOPER(S): Clockwork Tortoise

Both the late NES and SNES had been blessed with their landmark Batman games by the mid-90's - Sunsoft's Batman and Konami's Batman Returns, respectively. Both of these games were also made available on the Sega Genesis, but as very, very different and inferior versions. With the release of Batman: Revenge of the Joker, and of course, Batman Forever which sucked wherever it went, it seemed like the Genesis would never get a half decent Batman game to its name. Then came Sega's version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin; Konami's SNES version of the Animated Series license had come out a year before and while it wasn't a perfect game, it was the most authentic Batman video game experience of the time. The Genesis game was made by an utterly inexperienced group of developers calling themselves Clockwork Tortoise, and published by Sega themselves. Needless to say I was a bit worried when I started the game. Well, how is it? Was The Adventures of Batman & Robin THE Batman game the Sega Genesis needed or does it seal Batman's worthless legacy on this particular console?

A mere shadow of the bat

Mr. Freeze is working on a elaborate plan to freeze Gotham City. Batman and Robin quickly catch on, so in order to keep them busy, Freeze busts the Joker, Two-Face and Mad Hatter out of Arkham Asylum to wreak their very own havoc.

Why set fire to a bank?
Konami's take on The Adventures of Batman & Robin could've been an awesome game; it had the look of the classic animated series, some of the best graphics ever seen on the SNES and it had Danny Elfman's music to create some incredible atmosphere. However, it was not a fun game to play, as if having Batman's arch nemesis as the first boss wouldn't have felt awkward enough. It had a wide variety of great villains, though; my five favourites were all in that game, even though all of them were not given enough due. Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Catwoman. Who does the Sega game have? Well, it does have Mr. Freeze, who was elevated to whole new heights as a Batman villain by the animated series; he used to be a humorous filler character, but once his backstory was revealed in the 90's, it blew minds, and now he's regarded as one of the greatest villains in the franchise. He's great to have along, but otherwise, the rogues' gallery is an utter disappointment. Joker (w/ Harley Quinn) and Two-Face were already featured in the SNES game, and Mad Hatter was kind of an odd choice at this point of time. Four main villains, as opposed to the SNES game's nine. Doesn't sound like a good start to me.

The graphics are promoted as some of the best graphics ever seen on the Genesis. I find that quite plausible on paper, since the SNES game's graphics absolutely shined, how could Sega possibly fail one year later? Well, it seems that Clockwork Tortoise worked really hard to create some stunning effects, such as the whole of Hatter's level, but in turn, they deliberately downgraded the look of the rest of the game. It really doesn't look that special - when it comes to the greatest Genesis graphics ever, I have to name Earthworm Jim by a long shot in comparison to The Adventures of Batman & Robin. It doesn't even retain half of the animated series' look, actually it looks somewhat cheap. While Konami got the rights to Danny Elfman's tunes, Sega got Jesper Kyd to do the music. This was his first truly major title, and he went on to compose music to many Ubisoft franchises including Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed, so I expected a lot, but the music is really not good, and moreover, this ambient electronica has absolutely no connection to any shape or form of Batman media.

Even before the opening cutscene is over, I'm seeing a lot of stuff that's bluntly telling me that this ain't going to be a good game. There's nothing that would prove me wrong, either. Next, we get a choice between Batman and Robin, which is like giving a choice between Mario and Luigi in some other game than Super Mario Bros. 2. It seems that Sega chose to listen to what fans had to say about Konami ditching Robin from the SNES game even though the game was called The Adventures of Batman & Robin, but they would've done well to listen to some other complaints (or praises), as well. Anyway, I'll go with Batman, of course.

Balloons, how scary. Oh, balloons with bombs
attached to 'em? Well, that puts a whole new
ring to it, doesn't it?
The game is an arcade-style run 'n' gun game. I know how ridiculous that sounds, but at least this time Batman doesn't have a variety of firearms he had in the previously reviewed game; he uses Batarangs and shurikens, which you can upgrade by collecting different-coloured icons with the Batman insignia on them. There's a meter in the upper left corner that shows how much spunk your projectiles have left; if the meter hits the bottom, they're really weak and you might want to resort to dropkicks until it goes back up. Otherwise, there are no real melée attacks. As you progress, the waves of enemies become larger and more difficult to dispose of, actually downright impossible. The game's crappy physics do not allow any elaborate tactics to be deciphered. You can collect power-ups from trash cans and such, but there's really nothing that would just stop your lives from running down a drain and stop you having to start whole boring levels over and over until you're lucky enough to make it to the end. I would've probably spent a few dimes on the game if it really was an arcade game, but on a home console, it simply doesn't work. It's not really bad - like Revenge of the Joker bad - but it's not worth much, and even if the SNES game wasn't perfect, it was considerably better.

I can't claim to be too disappointed with the game, I pretty much knew what to expect from it just by reading about it. It was the notable difference between this game and the SNES counterpart that prompted me to try it, nothing else, not even my infatuation with Batman. The Adventures of Batman & Robin is the best Batman game on the Sega Genesis, but that's far from an accomplishment considering its company. It's not real, there's no experience to it, it's near impossible to beat and even more impossible to truly enjoy. Nearly everything about it is highly awkward rather than truly awful.

SOUND : 5.8


GameRankings: 72.90%

Clockwork Tortoise also developed the very different Sega-CD version of the game, which was well received by Batman fans due to its animated segments in which several of the show's voice actors reprised their roles.

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