Defunct Games
  1. 1987
  2. 1988
  3. 1989
  4. 1990
  5. 1991
Batman
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Batman Batman Batman
  • Review Score:

  • C+
We always want what we can't have. In 1989, Sega fans around the world were horrified to learn that they wouldn't be able to get their hands on Batman's first 16-bit adventure. Because of Nintendo's exclusivity clause, SunSoft was barred from publishing this Sega Genesis action game starring the Dark Knight. As a result, critics around the world lobbied for the game's release, turning it into something of a cause celebre.

Looking back at it now, we were excited about nothing. Batman for the Sega Genesis is a straight forward action game, in which players punch and throw batarangs at a never-ending supply of enemy clones. You walk from left to right, occasionally use your grappling hook and fight bosses that are vaguely inspired by the Tim Burton movie.


Instead of telling the story of Batman through engaging cinemas between levels, SunSoft opted to tell you everything you needed to know right at the top. Thanks to a wall of text, players are told that Bruce Wayne's parents were killed and Jack Napier (who will eventually become the Joker) is running lose trying to game Gotham City. After that, you're left to fill in the blanks.

The problem with this kind of narrative is that it barely feels like any time has passed from one level to the next. You'll go from punching Napier into a vat of chemicals to an all-out battle with the Joker at the Fluglheim Museum all in a matter of seconds. One assumes that there's a big chunk of story between these two events, including Jack being worked on by underground surgeons, the birth of the Joker, the Joker's evil plans, etc. None of that is covered; instead we jump from one key scene from the movie to the next.

Batman (Genesis)

The game's breakneck pace often gets in the way. Soon after clearing out the museum, Batman is forced to take to the streets and the skies in two relatively short, yet challenging vehicle stages. Here you shoot at cars, helicopters, parade balloons and tanks. And just when you're starting to get the hang of the Batmobile and Batwing, the stages end and you're to the next lookalike level. One can complete the adventure in under a half hour.

There's no question that this 16-bit Genesis game offers more detailed levels and better looking baddies. The problem is, it's not as interesting looking as the NES counterpart. Perhaps because they were shackled by technology, SunSoft shrouded much of the 8-bit visuals in darkness. This was an effective style choice that ultimately made the game stand out. This Genesis game doesn't stand out; instead it looks old and out of date.

Batman (Genesis)

Much like the movie it's based on, Batman offers big action scenes to make up for a shallow premise. This game is too afraid to delve as deep as the movie, which in turn only scratched the surface of what made Batman such a compelling character. Sadly the gameplay is limited and the levels are too short, resulting in an experience that is over before it has a chance to begin. It's not a bad game, but Batman on the Genesis was not worth the wait.
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