Check out our video review:
Batman: The Animated Series was awesome and it did spawn some games. The Adventures of Batman & Robin is one of them and from what I understand, the Super Nintendo version is very different than the versions for the Sega systems. I’ve never played the Super Nintendo version but I do own the Genesis version which is a run ‘n’ gun shooter with a shmup sequence thrown in. The Super Nintendo version was developed and published by Konami and the Genesis and Sega CD versions were developed by Clockwork Tortoise and published by Sega. Novotrade developed a Game Gear version and this one was also published by Sega. Wikipedia states the game released in 1994 and 1995 but I’m not sure what versions released when. Jeremy and I teamed up and played through the Genesis version and, yes, we cheated and gave ourselves infinite lives because this game is extremely fucking brutal.
We had no idea what the plot was about while we were playing. All we really knew is we had to stop four major villains – the Joker, Two-Face, Mad Hatter, and Mr. Freeze. I don’t have the manual so I have no idea if it gives you any information about the plot but I did look up a plot summary and apparently Mr. Freeze is trying to freeze Gotham City because that’s just his thing. You can play as either Batman or Robin if playing solo and the game plays out in levels with multiple stages or areas per level. Each level focuses on a specific villain and each stage ends with a boss battle. The plot is really just a backdrop for the gameplay. And the game is very difficult and also quite long.
Both Batman and Robin can run, jump, double jump or jump kick, hang on ledges, and throw projectiles. When close to enemies, you can perform melee attacks. Most of the game consists of run ‘n’ gun shooter type stages. When you get hit, you lose health and when you lose all your health, you die. When you lose all your lives, you have the option to use a continue. You can obtain hearts that will replenish some of your health. There’s one stage that plays out like a shmup where you’ll have to shoot down enemy aircraft and dodge projectiles. Two stages late in the game have the heroes hovering around the environments. Both characters start with the batarang projectiles but you can acquire two other weapons – the Bat Star and Bat Bolo and we hope these are the correct weapon names since we had to look them up in a walkthrough. The game doesn’t actually tell you the names. Anyway, the weapon pickups come in different colors and can be dropped by fallen enemies or can be found in breakable objects. A weapon can become more powerful by collecting it multiple times. As the batarang powers up, it becomes a spread shot. The Bat Bolo is the most powerful weapon and gets bigger and more powerful. The Bat Star is the weakest weapon and also turns into a spread weapon as it powers up. You’ll throw standard projectiles but if you don’t fire for a few seconds you’re shot will charge up. When fully charged, you you’re projectile will be at its most powerful. There are a few other items you can acquire that can be helpful. There’s one that clears the screen of enemies and another that will rapidly fill your charge bar for a limited time.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin for Genesis is a ridiculously difficult game. Almost reaching the point of feeling impossible. It’s also a very fast-paced game. You are basically required to memorize environments and what enemies are thrown at you and when. The game likes to throw a ton of enemies at you at once and you rarely have room to breathe. They’ll come from multiple directions and usually in waves. Enemies will rush you and perform melee attacks, some fire projectiles, there’s exploding rabbits, aircraft, and other various foes. The game is relentless and unforgiving. Harley Quinn is one of the bosses you’ll fight and besides the heroes and main villains, she is the only other significant character in the game. The bosses are very tough and they can take a while to bring down, especially if you’re weapons aren’t powered up.
The stages have you moving left to right and the run ‘n’ gun stages contain a bit of platforming. You’ll battle on the streets and in the skies of Gotham, in the Gem Expo building, on a caravan, on some kind of elevator, and the Mad Hatter stages are easily the most strange as expected. You’ll jump on mushrooms, battle enemies backstage at a studio, on tables, and the level is like a drug trip. As visually interesting as the levels are, many of them tend to drag on. You’ll have to fight waves upon waves of the same enemies coming in the same formations. And the shmup stage just goes on and on and on and includes multiple bosses and it doesn’t help that the bosses can take a while to defeat. The length of some of these stages really do drag out the game which can suck since there’s no saving so you have to blast through the whole thing in go. This is a very trial-and-error experience and you should expect to die often. Playing with a friend does make things easier but I’ll admit, without the infinite lives cheat, we could barely make it out of the first level without losing all of our lives and continues. Patience and memorization is required.
Visually, we think The Adventures of Batman & Robin looks absolutely phenomenal. The game includes all kinds of effects including some kind of pseudo-3D effect. The sprites look good and the entire visual presentation is a good reflection of the animated series. The enemies, bosses, and themes of each level vary depending on the villain you’re going after and these changes do help to keep the game visually interesting. All stages are filled with plenty of detail with the exception of the shmup stage. It starts out cool with you flying over the city but then the battle takes you in or above the clouds which isn’t as eye-catching. The music is certainly interesting and is one of the highlights of the game. The soundtrack if full of electronica-styled tunes which were composed by Jesper Kyd. The soundtrack is just unexpected but it does give the game most of it’s charm and a unique atmosphere. Because of the music, the game often feels dark and strange, making this a very unique experience. This has to be one of the most memorable soundtracks we’ve ever heard. Now the sound effects are sorely lacking and are often drowned out by the music. You can hear the sounds of explosions and a few other things but none of the effects stand out. On the technical side, the only thing we noticed was the frame rate dip once or twice.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin has the makings of a great run ‘n’ gun shooter but it’s way too repetitive. Repetitive and brutal. We don’t really mind the difficulty but the game seems to go on a bit too long and there’s not enough variety to the enemy encounters to compensate for the length. The repetitive enemy encounters artificially extend the length of the stages. And by that I mean, the stages become boring. The game is just full of waves upon waves of the same enemies in the same formations and when a series of waves finally stops, you’ll have to face another set. Rinse and repeat five or six more times and then battle a boss which can also take forever. Stages can just go on and on and never let up. We had fun in the beginning but our enjoyment quickly waned after the first level. On the plus side, the controls are responsive, the music is interesting, the action is fast-paced and frantic, and the visual presentation is excellent.
If you can find this game for cheap, we would recommend you pick it up but only if you’re a masochist and enjoy run ‘n’ gun shooters and shmups. You need to enjoy dying repeatedly and replaying through many of the same stages over and over again. It’s not really a bad game but it’s not for everybody. We would recommend that fans of Batman check it out because it’s definitely one of the more unique Batman games out there. Most of the game’s charm and atmosphere is due to the bizarre but unique soundtrack that manages to fit in with the dark tone of the Batman universe. The gameplay may be more frustrating than fun and it would be nice if there was some kind of save system. If the developers shortened the levels and/or mixed up the enemy encounters a bit more, the game would have been much better. If you think this looks interesting, check it out but be prepared for an ass-kicking.