Batman the Movie / Ocean Software 1989
Screenshots: play/stop

There was a time (around the early nineties) when each movie conversion had to be a multipart game offering a variety of gamestyles. Arguably, Batman the Movie was the prototype game on which later film licences were based. A conversion of the Tim Burton film, the game pretty much follows the original storyline and is set on five different levels.

Level one is a platform shoot-em-up set in the Axis chemical plant where you have to find Jack Napier. There are various baddies around, but you have an unlimited amount of "batarangs" to defend yourself with. Also to your aid is the "batrope" with which you can reach upper platforms or just swing from platform to platform. With limited life-energy, a time limit and a relatively complex level layout, it's not the easiest of introductions to the game, but persist, and the whole thing becomes significantly easier. Anyway, having found Jack Napier, you shoot him, he falls into a vat of acid, and thus the Joker is born.

Level two is some sort of driving game (albeit a strange one) set in the streets of Gotham city. You have to avoid police cars and the Joker's vehicles as well. An arrow in the middle of the screen shows you the direction you must follow. Once again, the batrope can be extremely helpful, as with it you can turn without losing speed. Level three is a puzzle subgame in which you must find the substances which form Joker's poison gas, the "smilex". It's not particularly entertaining but it makes for a nice break from the previous arcade action. Level four sees you in the streets of Gotham once again, only this time you fly around with the Batwing and your mission is to destroy gigantic balloons filled with "smilex". In order to do that, you have to slice the ropes with which the balloons are tied to the ground.

Achieve that too and you can play the final level, which is the final showdown with Joker set in Gotham's cathedral. Basically, it's a more difficult version of the first level, with a more tight time-limit, more baddies and labyrinthine platform-layouts. Now that I mentioned the time-limit, I should tell you that there's one in all levels of the game, making matters even more difficult.

The graphics are very nice, colourful and detailed. The scrolling in the platform levels is a bit on the slow side and there are a few graphical bugs (but they are so minor you won't even notice). The music is a masterpiece, with lovely tunes for each level : it really enhances the game. Sound effects are adequate. Hook-ability is set in just about the right standards, I reckon. The platform sections are the best parts of the game but the other parts are good as well. It has to be said, it doesn't play as good as it did 12 years ago, but it's still a solid gaming experience and an essential game for any C64 fanatic's collection. After all, like I said in the beginning, it was the prototype for many similar movie conversion which followed later on.

Reviewed by Roger Frames.

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