Over the past several decades, Batman has had what can best be described as an interesting history with games. Aside from the mostly globally-praised Arkham saga and the newly-arrived Telltale mini-series, many games featuring the Dark Knight have ranged from being surprisingly decent, just okay, or simply pure garbage in every sense of the word. Today, we’ll be looking at two games bearing the same name and source material, which in this case is a pair of now relatively-forgotten titles based off of the second season of one of the Dark Knight’s major forays into cartoons, Batman: The Animated Series, or The Adventures of Batman and Robin as it was referred to by its’ second season.
Developed and published in the year of 1994 for the Super Nintendo and the Genesis by Konami, Clockwork Tortoise, and Sega respectively, both games revolve around the titular dynamic duo as they take on some of the most iconic members of their rogues gallery who are in the midst of wreaking havoc in Gotham. With that said, which one of these versions is superior to the other? Let’s find out, shall we?
ROUND ONE: THE LOOKS
SNES – One thing that some of you might notice about this version is how it attempts to go the full mile with being a licensed title, attempting to translate the show’s usage of the simplistic yet also complex “art deco” style into a video game format. And honestly, it actually works out pretty well in its’ favor. Unlike most licensed games which usually only marginally resemble their source material, many of the backgrounds in this version look like they’ve been ripped straight out of an episode from the show itself. The spritework is also pretty fantastic, as each character looks exactly as they should be. It’s also worth mentioning that the visuals often throw in a bit of 3D, a great example being the boss fight with the Joker. It’s not anything groundbreaking, but for a licensed games, the visuals truly stand out from the crowd.
GENESIS – You know what I said earlier about most licensed games marginally resembling their source material? Well, this is one of them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this version does look absolutely fantastic. The spritework is impressive, the usage of 3D is even better than in the SNES version, and the backgrounds have a lot of attention to detail in them. However, the reason why I think the SNES version is superior graphically goes more to how it actually feels like you’re going through an episode of the show. While this version does utilize the art deco style, it doesn’t exactly have that feeling of being “simplistic yet complex” and just leans more towards the complex side rather than having the perfect balance of both, if you get what I mean.
WINNER – SNES
ROUND TWO: THE SOUND
SNES – Going along with the incredibly faithful visual style, the soundtrack in this version strives to emulate another aspect of the show, which in this case is its’ orchestral-esque music, and manges to do so with great finesse. Each track invokes a sense of heroism and justice that you’d expect a Batman product to have, and there’s even a fairly nifty version of the show’s theme song thrown in for good measure. Also, the pausing sound effect is the same as the one from Turtles in Time for some reason. While I wouldn’t say that this is one of the SNES’ best auditory accomplishments, it’s certainly up there.
GENESIS – In what also seems to be an ongoing motif for this version, the music discards the orchestral-esque tracks in favor of a more stereotypical Genesis/Mega Drive soundtrack, being the usual electronic synthesized tunes that you’ve come to expect. That’s not to say that the music in this version is bad; in fact, it’s actually really good. It’s just that once again, the SNES version does a better job in keeping in line with the show.
WINNER – SNES
ROUND THREE: THE GAMEPLAY
SNES – Seeing as how both games came out long before the Arkham saga, it’s usually best to not keep our expectations high, as we never exactly know what the quality could be. However, I think it’s safe to say that this version is well above-average. It’s essentially a side-scrolling action-platform game along the lines of Mega Man X and Castlevania, the only difference being that Batman is in the lead. The controls are shockingly great for a licensed platformer, being smooth, tight and easy to get a hold of. There’s also a range of equipments that can be used throughout this version, including but not limited to the Batarang, a grappling hook, and smoke bombs. There’s also a heavy dosage of platforming and combat, both of which are executed with shockingly competent results, with the platforming truly stretching your skills to the limit and the combat being fairly addictive, though a bit tiresome. Though this version is definitely not on the same level of quality of the Arkham games, it comes pretty close.
GENESIS – There are a good number of ways in which I could describe the gameplay in this version, but if there was one that I’d have to pick in particular, it would have to be “entertaining, but nonetheless quite dull”. To be honest, there’s nothing inherently that bad about the gameplay – the controls are great, the combat is fun, and it generally invokes vibes of other games such as Contra. It’s just that when it all boils down, it doesn’t do anything that can be considered “fresh” or “new”. It’s not bad by any means, but there are superior options to be found.
WINNER – SNES
THE RETR0PIA RANKINGS:
AND VICTORY GOES TO…THE SNES VERSION!