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Batman - Return of the Joker: What Did Critics Say in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 02, 2014   |   Episode 63 (Show Archive)  


Batman - Return of the Joker (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Batman is back, and this time he's going head-to-head with the Joker ... again. Return of the Joker is the 1991 sequel to Batman: The Video Game, the well-received NES action game based on the popular Tim Burton movie. Were critics happy to see the caped crusader once again? We dig through old issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro, Nintendo Power and Nintendo Magazine System to find the answer.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Batman - Return of the Joker
[ Company: Sunsoft | Console: NES ]

8 out of 10

"The Joker is causing trouble in Gotham City, and there's only one body-stocking wearer who is super-hero enough to stop him - the Batman. There are 20 platform levels to beat, and though the initial difficulty level is set quite high, the gameplay is addictive enough to keep you coming back. All in all, a first class game."

GAMEPRO (December 1991)
4 out of 5

"More often than not sequels to classic games just don't stand up to the original. Fortunately, top of the line graphics bring Batman: Return of the Joker to life as an original saga whose smokin' guns deliver different (and in some places more) bang for the buck. We've got just one complaint. Why give the game endless continues and a password system? This is one of the best NES carts of the year. And that's no joke!" -Earth Angel

NINTENDO POWER (December 1991)
3.8 out of 5

"The ultimate comic book showdown is here! Batman: Return of the Joker from Sunsoft is a seven stage NES bout featuring brilliant graphics, wonderful weapons and a ton of treacherous traps. The Clown Prince of Crime is back to mount a new campaign against the Caped Crusader. It's up to you to guide our cloaked hero through a dangerous hive of devilish snares."

78% out of 100%

"Sporting some brilliant sprites and backdrops, Batman ROJ is a stunning-looking game. The sound is also excellent with atmospheric tunes and meaty effects. Gameplay? Well, this is where we come to the crunch. What the game lacks is originality. All its levels and features have been seen and done before. If you're a Nintendo owner, check it out. If not, look elsewhere for a challenge." -Jaz

7 out of 10

"This cart has about the best looking visuals I've seen on the NES. Despite the graphic improvement there is something missing from this sequel that made the first so good. The game play is limited to a walk and shoot contest with pretty graphics and shallow game play." -Martin

6 out of 10

"Batman is back, but he's had a face lift this time! This title could easily be called anything if the main character didn't look so much like Batman. The Batarangs are gone, and now one of my favorite heroes is strutting around with lasers strapped to his arm. Not bad, just not what I expected." -Sushi X
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 75% - Although Batman: Return of the Joker received mixed reviews, most critics agreed that it looked spectacular. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Ed said the game was "almost 16-bit quality," and he's not far off. This was a late generation 8-bit release, so it was pulling off tricks nobody expected on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Beyond the "stunning" visuals, Return of the Joker ended up being a big disappointment. Nintendo Magazine System complained about the gameplay, saying it lacked originality. Sushi X argued that this could have been a game for any action star, as it barely has anything to do with the Dark Knight.

Overall, most critics agreed it wasn't as good as the 1990 original. And that's certainly reflected in the average, which is 8 points lower. Still, even with the mixed reaction, Batman: Return of the Joker managed to score a 75%, right on the cusp of a recommendation.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: Forget the game critics called "almost 16-bit quality," Friday's episode deals with a genuine 16-bit Batman game. Batman for the Genesis is a controversial game, as it almost didn't make it to the United States. But don't worry, this story has a happy ending and Batman eventually made his way West. Was it worth the wait? Find out what old school critics thought on Friday's episode of Review Crew. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!



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