Batman Forever was the turning point for Warner Bros. first go at the Batman film franchise not only from a movie making stand point, but for the tie-in games as well. Except for the games developed by American studios like Batman Returns on the Sega Genesis, most of the Batman film games were developed by Japanese studios and the results were generally favourable: Sunsoft’s Batman: The Video Game on the NES is still well-regarded to this day, and the Game Boy game by the same name is no slouch either; Konami’s Batman Returns games on both the SNES and NES are also still really fun games to play to this date, in fact all four games I just mentioned made it on my “Top 10: Best Non-Arkham Batman Games” list from a few weeks back.
When it came to bringing Batman Forever to consoles and handhelds, things took a downward slide as Acclaim took over development duties and tried to make a game that was part Mortal Kombat, part side-scrolling action game, a mix that’s about as volatile as it sounds but as MK was one of, if not the most popular game at the time, I can at least see why they tried to trick people into thinking the two would be at least somewhat similar. As today is the 25th anniversary of the day that Batman Forever arrived in North American cinemas, my plan was to originally look at Batman Forever across the SNES, Game Boy and PSOne, but I couldn’t find an angle for the SNES game that wasn’t already done in the Angry Video Game Nerd review. Often I find something redeemable that people overlook, I even admit to liking Superman 64 in a bizarre way, but Batman Forever on the SNES is just as bad as other reviews say. The best thing I can say about it is that man, Acclaim made one awesome commercial:
Doesn’t that make you want to run out and track down the game immediately?
I picked up the Game Boy game of the same name hoping it would perhaps be a hidden gem, but without the internet’s help, I couldn’t get past the first screen. Yes, you heard that correctly, the first screen. The Game Boy game doesn’t feature an awkwardly fired grappling hook like the console game, but Batman does have a super jump that you wouldn’t know how to pull off unless you have the booklet (it’s down then up, VS. Series style if you’re wondering), which unfortunately I didn’t. When I managed to get past the first screen, the Game Boy game turned out to be just a dumb downed version of the game found on the SNES with less buttons to pull things off.
My last hope for a good game inspired by Batman Forever came from a game I didn’t even know existed until a few years ago: Batman Forever: The Arcade Game, a conversion that arrived on the PSOne and Sega Saturn. A game that might I add is quite pricey; I paid upwards of $50 for the game on PSOne (I don’t own a Saturn) and that’s without a proper case or insert, just the disc. Turns out this game was a simple beat-em-up, like Konami’s Batman Returns, and I thought to myself “How could they screw up a beat-em-up starring Batman?” Well, it appears quite easily.
I have no experience with the arcade version of this game, it never showed up in my neck of the woods, so maybe that game is fun but the PSOne port certainly isn’t. It uses a similar graphical style as the SNES game where actors appear to be digitized and then put in the game, but with the added power of the of the PlayStation, it doesn’t quite look as bad yet still somehow manages to look nowhere near as good as Konami’s Batman Returns which came out 1) years before it and 2) on inferior hardware. It also is exponentially less fun to play.
Batman Returns on the SNES was a solo only affair, fitting as Robin hadn’t been introduced yet, and I’ll give Batman Forever: The Arcade Game this, it does let you play with a friend. That’s about all I’m giving it though. Hit detection is terrible, making each hit feel weak, enemies easily gang up on you and easily trap you such that you lose health and lives incredibly quickly, even on the lowest difficulty setting. Each enemy you defeat spews collectibles that eventually allow you to at random perform a super move where Batman will spin around on a grappling hook on the screen a few times or jump in the air and spread his cape, somehow taking down all the enemies on the screen, but it all feels so random and out of the players control, almost like the game is too hyperactive and extreme for its own good. Somewhat fitting for a game inspired by a Joel Schumacher film now that I think about it.
I really wish there was more to say about Batman Forever: The Arcade Game but like Acclaim’s efforts on both the SNES and Game Boy, this game is not worth even the hardest of hardcore Batman fans time, especially at the going price for this game. It’s nice that unlike say, Batman Returns, you can play with a friend, but good luck convincing one to play this game. Go play a better beat-em-up like Rise of Sin Tzu or The Brave and the Bold instead.