Batman Returns Super Nintendo Review

Although superheroes have risen in popularity over the last few years, Batman has been raking in fans for quite some time. Not only is Batman one of the most popular superheroes ever created, but he’s also an icon in cinema, debuting on the big screen back in 1966. After a bit of downtime, Batman came back in a big way in the late 80s and early 90s with a slew of movies, ranging from fantastic to underwhelming. As expected, these movies resulted in some video game adaptations, many of which have faded into obscurity. However, Batman Returns, the Super Nintendo game based on the 1992 movie of the same name, has gone down as not only one of the most memorable Batman games, but also one of the best Christmas games of all time.

Batman Returns for Christmas

Originally released in 1993 on a variety of gaming systems, Batman Returns follows the same story as the film it’s based on, but adds a significant amount of comic-book flair. There are several unique versions of the game, including experiences on the Sega Genesis, NES, MS-DOS, and more. While those games are respectable in their own right, the Super Nintendo version rises above the rest, providing players with an epic beat ’em up adventure that rivals the best in the genre.

Set across seven stages, Batman Returns sees out heroic caped crusader hunting down the villainous Penguin, battling the anti-hero Catwoman, and fighting his way through hordes of criminal goons. Every stage is based on a specific scene in the film, guiding players through an action-packed journey that stays true to the source material. Just like in the movie, Batman must fight his way through the Penguin’s army of thugs and thwart his sinister plot for Gotham City. You’ll brawl in the snowy streets and businesses of Gotham, drive the Batmobile around a bit, and even delve into the Penguin’s Lair for a final showdown.

All of that is fine and expected, but what sets Batman Returns on the SNES apart from other beat ’em up games is its Christmas setting, which adds a flourish of color and nostalgia. Much like the original 1992 film, Batman Returns is firmly set during the Christmas season, offering seasonal snow-filled levels with festive decorations. Trees decorated with colorful lights and ornaments dot the scenery, Gotham’s citizens are busy with holiday shopping, and the Penguin’s clown-goons bust out of Christmas presents with enthusiasm. The stark winter environments help the rest of the color palette pop, resulting in a vivid, action-packed experience.

Batman’s Christmas Beatdown

The Super Nintendo version of Batman Returns was developed by Konami, who are no strangers to the beat ’em up genre. Well known for their work on other action classics like TMNT IV: Turtles in Time, X-Men, and The Simpsons Arcade Game, Konami has a track record of quality. That quality is reflected in Batman Returns, which feels great to play and is full of fun and exciting mechanics. In addition to punching and grappling enemies with brutal efficiency, Batman has a handful of items at his disposal.

If any enemies are giving you a hard time (like the motorcycle-riding clown bikers), you can chuck a Batarang at their head to disrupt their attacks. Batman can also utilize his trusty grappling hook to navigate dangerous ledges, as well as swoop across the stage and kick enemies with force. When things get particularly overwhelming, you can even toss a dangerous test tube of explosive material to clear the screen of all baddies. Each stage also ends with a tough boss encounter, so it’s a good thing Batman can block, attack in mid-air, and even pull off a special attack for extra damage.

Batman Returns (SNES) - Screen Shot
Overall, Batman Returns is a challenging but brief beat 'em up that's one of the best Christmas games you can find. While the story itself might not revolve around Santa Claus or the North Pole, there are still plenty of jolly decorations decking Gotham's halls. The simple but satisfying gameplay will keep you engaged throughout the game's seven chilly levels, and the boss fights will keep you on your toes. The only major downside to Batman Returns is the lack of a two-player option, but apart from that, this is one of the most underrated retro Christmas games there is.

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1 Comment

  1. I still didn’t realise many people consider this to be a Christmas game!?

    I guess it’s like Die Hard… is it a Christmas movie, or just a movie set at Christmas? There’s a fine line between the two.


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