How do you make something awesome, move it to arguably superior hardware, and then somehow make it worse?!!
This is the case with Batman: Revenge of the Joker, a carbon copy of the excellent Batman: Return of the Joker on the NES. Walking into this game I had two assumptions: The first that this was going to be as good as ROTJ, the second that given the game was on 16-bit hardware as opposed to 8-bit, it would maybe even be better than the original, but you know what they say about assumptions.
So what exactly makes “Revenge” worse than “Return”? The first thing would be the graphics, simply put, they look like they were produced in a primitive form of Microsoft paint. Certain levels, such as an early stage set in factory, have so much superfluous additions that it becomes difficult to find out what you can and cannot jump onto. Batman looks the part, as does the Joker, but in the case of Batman, he doesn’t seem to move or animate nowhere near as fluidly.
Another gripe I have is with the controls. “Return” on NES controlled superbly, much like the first Sunsoft Batman game on the NES, however everything here feels stiff. Jumping to reach a platform, sliding under an obstacle, or worse yet, moving out of the way of an attacking boss, become an exercise in pure frustration. Whereas in “Return” if you died, you were by and large to blame, with “Revenge” you’ll most certainly feel that it’s due to the poor controls. The only additional you have to your arsenal is a melee kick move that serves no function other than to destroy a gargoyle in level one, and believe me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds. The awesome golden armor Batman power up you get is also changed for the worst. As opposed to triggering when you build up your meter, it has to be activated by hitting all three face buttons together when you build up your meter. Not having a booklet with this game as I bought it used, I assumed that I didn’t even have this capability and it wasn’t until very late, as in the last stage, that I accidentally triggered the move.
The worst offense in the game is the music, which was fantastic in the NES game and is the same here yet everything just sounds remarkably worse, but again as I’ve brought up more times than I can remember, that’s an issue I have with most everything on the Sega Genesis.
Before I took to writing this review, I had to replay Batman: Return of the Joker to make sure that that game was indeed good and not something I made up, this game made me question my taste THAT MUCH. I’m glad to report that after a second look, “Return” is still an incredibly fun game but that unfortunately only establishes further exactly how bad “Revenge” is. This port was handled by a company by the name of Ringler Studios, something that proudly comes up each time you boot up the game, and based on the information I found, they only really ever made 16-bit sports games. Maybe they should have stuck with what they were good at and left Batman alone.