Sunsoft perhaps gave us one of the largest number of Batman games of any company. There first outing, Batman: The Video Game on the NES, was an example of how great a Batman game can be, and stands as one of the all time classics in the NES library. Given how well that game turned out, it could have been assumed that each game would match that quality, but if you’ve been reading my work, you know that unfortunately that’s not the case. Once and for all, here’s THE definitive ranking of Sunsoft’s library of Batman games.


revenge of the joker cover

By all regards, this game should be right towards the top of the list, but instead it finds itself inexplicably at the bottom of the barrel. Though it shares the exact same structure as another Sunsoft Batman game, Batman: Return of the Joker on the NES, it suffers from stiff controls and worse production values in both the graphics and music department than the NES game which runs on inferior hardware. Skip this and stick with ROTJ on NES instead.


batman ROTJ game boy cover

Return of the Joker on the NES is positioned sequel to Sunsoft’s first Batman game, however its gameplay is such a radical departure that the only common thread among the two games is the character’s of Batman and the Joker. The Game Boy game of the same name is a return to form somewhat, doing away with the shooting heavy action of the NES game and bringing back punches and wall jumps. The plat-forming, wall jumping and new grappling hook mechanic are great to play around with, but everything else in this game is a mess. Collision detection is bad, the power-ups make the game harder, and it’s too difficult. On the plus side, it has the best music of all the non-NES Batman games.


batman sega genesis cover

As a standard of quality for Batman: Revenge of the Joker, this is a far better example than ROTJ on the NES, at least in the stiff controls department. Hitting the constant stream of respawning enemies is far too much of a chore and beating some of the bosses can feel like pure luck alone. While it’s not that good of a game, Batman on the Genesis does have a few things going for it: The music is great, it follows the plot of the movie better than the NES title, and the inclusion of both the Batmobile AND the Batwing make it stand out among all the other games on this list.


batman game boy cover

The first ever handheld Batman game features a caped crusader that’s more adorable than menacing, but if you look past the teeny-tiny Dark Knight, you’ll find a pretty great action platformer, albeit one that’s short in length. Batman: The Video Game on the Game Boy is a progenitor to the shooting action that would be found in Return of the Joker on the NES and features a plethora of power-ups and a bullet heavy turn at the wheel of the Batwing. If you’re looking for a Batman game on the go, this is easily one of the best options.


batman return of the joker nes cover

Sunsoft was at their best when producing games on the NES, and Return of the Joker is a prime example of that. Great graphics, tight control, a healthy challenge augmented by an amazing soundtrack, ROTJ is a game that should be in every NES owners library. There are some things that hold it back from being truly perfect though: a few levels feature some cheap enemy placement that leaves little time for the player to react other than to constantly keep playing a level until they get the enemy pattern down, and the bosses are pretty forgettable. Those few quirks aside, this is a game that’s still worth its asking price.


batman nes cover art

I struggled over what game should take the top spot, Batman or Batman: Return of the Joker, but in the end Batman: The Video Game on the NES was the clear choice for number one. I love ROTJ, but if you ask a lot of people, they may not have even heard or possibly played that game, but everyone is familiar with this stand out game. For being a rather early NES game, Batman is still remembered fondly for its great play control, tight wall jumping mechanic and memorable soundtrack. Whereas ROTJ featured a few parts where enemy placement produced some cheap deaths, everything in this package is placed to test your skills with your move set. Needless to say, there’s a reason why 25 years after its release we’re getting an action figure featuring the Dark Knight in his NES likeness; This game deserves to stand with the best that the NES has to offer.


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