5 Of the Worst Batman Games in History

5 Of the Worst Batman Games in History

It’s no secret that video games and comic books often make for a disappointing combination. It always seems like they’d be good for each other, but games like Superman 64 have taught us to be cautious. And no group of people has experienced this disappointment as consistently as Batman fans. In fact, until Rocksteady released Arkham Asylum in 2009, it was starting to feel like developers were purposefully tormenting us. And while Arkham Asylum was a great little game, we’re still understandably nervous about its upcoming sequel: Arkham City.

Batman (1986)

Batman 1986 Cover
No time like the present to fix a hovercraft.

©Cover art for 1986 Batman game – Original

The very first video game featuring the Dark Knight was simply titled “Batman” and was released for the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, and MSX microcomputers. Players controlled a tiny, yellow, 8-bit Batman who looks like he’s enjoyed a few too many cheesecakes. In the game, the Joker has kidnapped Robin, and Batman must immediately mount a rescue effort. But before he does that, he’ll need to repair his hovercraft.

That was the entire plot of this game. Batman spent the whole time repairing a hovercraft. It’s a good thing that he’d been honing those detective skills. They certainly didn’t go to waste as he hunted for pieces of his own hovercraft inside his own house instead of taking one of his other vehicles to rescue Robin.

Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988)

Batman the Caped Crusader Cover
Simple side scrolling mechanics lead to boring gameplay.

© Special FX Software – Original

In 1988, Bats had a chance at redeeming himself after his 1986 embarrassment, but unfortunately, the humiliation was only compounded. This time gamers got a simplistic side-scroller with two characters who look remotely similar to the Joker and Penguin, and another who looks vaguely like Batman. Evidently, the Penguin is trying to take over the world with an army of robotic penguins, and the Joker has kidnapped Robin again. Also, we’re only two games into the anthology and the Joker has already kidnapped Robin twice? Isn’t Robin a crime-fighter by profession? It’s starting to seem like Batman might need to put a want ad on Craigslist for a new sidekick.

Batman: The Video Game (1989, 1990)

Batman the Video Game Cover
Plot doesn’t match the Batman feel.

©Cover art of Batman: The Video Game for Nintendo. – Original

Batman’s first outing on the NES was less terrible than most of the other early Batman games. The game was essentially a version of Tim Burton’s original movie that had been chopped apart and rewritten by children who didn’t speak English. For some reason, the writers thought it would be perfectly acceptable for Batman to run around town dropping villains into acid and throwing them off buildings, even though, as every Batman super nerd knows, Batman typically tries to avoid murdering people.

Graphically, the game was on par with the rest of the NES catalog, but due to Nintendo’s draconian licensing policy, it didn’t hit shelves until more than a year after Tim Burton’s movie was released. So, even though it was well received, it was far too late.

Batman: Return of the Joker (1991)

Batman Return of the Joker Cover
Batman Return of the Joker Cover.

©Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)

Released in 1991 Sunsoft could have done a better job at crafting what was supposed to be a superhero and sidekick. The plot line alone is enough to put players to sleep. The whole premise is to play as Batman and find stolen metals from the Joker that are hidden around Gotham City. This one is hardly worth a review.

Batman Returns (1993)

Batman Returns Cover
Batman Returns feel a little too familiar.

By 1993, pretty much everyone on earth wanted a piece of Batman. Tim Burton had turned the franchise into a merchandising typhoon and game developers were desperately trying to get their hooks into the caped crusader. But since it had become obvious that no developer knew how to create a decent Batman title, why not let them all create their own version of the same game? That’s exactly what they did.

For instance, the Amiga version was developed by a British company and was a simple platformer, while the Mega-CD version was an adventure game with 3D driving sequences. The Lynx version was an incredibly difficult side-scroller where players only had one life to complete the entire game, while the MS-DOS version featured Batman solving crimes via the video feed in the Batcave.

Eight versions of the game were created and none of them were any fun, but the Lynx version should have come with a coupon for anger management classes.

Last Thoughts

Batman Returns was released on basically every system that existed at the time. However, each system had its own developer and was therefore its own individual game, but all of them shared the same title: Batman Returns. The entertainment value of these games ranged from “mildly-amusing” to “borderline abuse.”

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