Batman Returns (SNES)

Pub & Dev: Konami | April 1993 | 8 MEGS
Pub & Dev: Konami | April 1993 | 8 MEGS

Based upon the 1992 summer blockbuster of the same name, Batman makes his SNES debut in memorable fashion. Batman was a hot commodity in the early ’90s so it was only a matter of time before the dark knight, under the proud banner of Konami, would soon descend upon the SNES. Konami boasted an impressive track record with smash hits such as Axelay, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Gradius III, Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Super Castlevania IV and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. Therefore Batman Returns was in good hands, and poised to be Konami’s next epic SNES classic. Right? But first…



Tim Burton’s Batman Returns was made on a budget of 80 million and grossed a whopping 267 million worldwide. It garnered the 3rd highest gross for movies in North America in 1992 at 162.8 million. #2 was Home Alone 2: Lost in New York at 173.5 million and the kingpin that year was Aladdin, which grossed a staggering 217.3 million. In terms of worldwide dominance, Batman Returns ranked 6th overall in 1992.

Whoa, that's no Mr. Mom...
Whoa, that’s no Mr. Mom

Being a proven property and coming off a massive hit, it was inevitable that video game adaptations would soon follow. Back in 1992, two mega titans were battling it out for 16-bit supremacy: the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. Malibu developed the Genesis game while Konami handled the Super Nintendo end. Both games were quite different, and consensus says that SNES owners won out with the (far) superior version. But of course, your mileage may vary.


It’s fitting that I’m writing this late on Christmas evening. I just spent the bulk of the day hanging out with family and playing games on the Switch with my cousin, David. We enjoyed bouts of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Shock Troopers. Anyway, I say fitting because Batman Returns has a very festive atmosphere. Well, at least as festive as Gotham City can get. The SNES game follows suit and is quite faithful to its source material. Playing Batman Returns this time of the year is very fitting, indeed. What a shame, then, that it’s only 1-player. But I suppose it wouldn’t make sense to throw Robin in there since he wasn’t in the 1992 film.

Even the intro is festive!
Even the intro is festive!
I love the falling snow effect
I love the falling snow effect
Dark is the knight...
Dark is the knight…



Horrified by the disfigurement of their son, Oswald Cobblepot’s parents tossed Oswald and his carriage into the Gotham River.


The carriage floated down the storm drain and ended up in Arctic World, part of the old Gotham Zoo. There he was rescued by four Emperor penguins, and they quickly forged a bond…

Jesus Christ...
Jesus Christ…


The denizens of Gotham City have reported spotting a strange looking man prowling around. Almost more like a creature of the night…

Who is this creepy man?
Who is this creepy man?


It is, of course, none other than Oswald Cobblepot. Now known as The Penguin, he wishes to rule Gotham’s criminal underworld.

But an avenging angel awaits
But an avenging angel awaits


Selina Kyle was once a quiet secretary working under the thumb of Max Shreck, a very powerful businessman. That was before she transformed into the Catwoman!


The Penguin has special plans for Gotham City, but Batman has other ideas. Something has to give one way or another…

... oh my! [You been waiting to do that one, huh? -Ed.]
… oh my!  [You been waiting to say that, huh? -Ed.]
Whenever this appears...
Whenever this appears…
HE appears
HE appears





Batman comes swooping in
Batman comes swooping in
Here comes the welcoming party
Here comes the welcoming party
Welcome THIS!
Welcome THIS!

The action starts out hot in Gotham Plaza where the Red Triangle Circus Gang launches an unsuspecting attack on the city’s Christmas festival.

Love the scurrying family. Nice touch
Love the scurrying family. Nice
This bat don't play
This bat don’t play

Batman’s brutality knows no bounds. You can slam bad guys against the wall or even through glass windows! You can even throw a bad guy into his buddy, taking out both at once.

Hey look...
Hey look…
... it's a 2-for-1 special!
… it’s a 2-for-1 special
Combatribes says hi
The Combatribes says hi
Not the brightest dudes around...
Not the brightest dudes around…

There’s a small variety of different clowns to beat up. One of them is the bazooka clown, whose missiles can actually harm their own. I love it when video games allow bad guys to accidentally hurt each other. It makes it feel a little more realistic and definitely a lot more enjoyable.

Bleak, gloomy and grim.  Captures Gotham perfectly
Bleak, gloomy and grim. Captures Gotham perfectly

The game does a good job of matching the gritty feel and somber mood of the movie. Back in the early ’90s, more often than not it seemed, movie-to-game adaptations didn’t have the best track record. But Batman Returns on the SNES did not fall victim to that.

"Alright I guess we're doing this the HARD WAY then..."
“Alright I guess we’re doing this the HARD WAY then…”


Even the cutscenes have this grittiness to them that perfectly replicates the seediness of Gotham City.

"YOU AGAIN?! Lady, go home and stay there!"
“YOU AGAIN?! Lady, go home and stay there!”

Or you don't get no spendin' cash If you don't scrub that kitchen floor You ain't gonna rock and roll no more YAKETY YAK! [Don't talk back -Ed.]
Or you don’t get no spendin’ cash
If you don’t scrub that kitchen floor
You ain’t gonna rock and roll no more
[Don’t talk back -Ed.]
The visuals were striking, especially for April 1993. Sprites are huge and clutter the screen. I love the little touches sprinkled in here and there as well, like those giant statues for instance. Just like the ones from the film!

Ah, the point where the game goes downhill a bit...
Ah, the point where the game goes downhill a bit…

Batman Returns has certain sections that force you into a single plane. These segments limit your ability to move around and avoid enemy attacks. It is a bit infuriating and certainly not as fun as the free roaming sections of the game. In this scene, you’ll have to attack with your trusty Batarang projectiles. These sections feel a bit stiff, sluggish and stilted.

A+++ for presentation though
A+++ for presentation though


Another tricky platforming bit that isn't super great
Another tricky platforming bit that isn’t super great
Gotham's teeming with creeps and clowns
Gotham’s teeming with creeps and clowns

Thankfully, we soon get back to the regular beat ‘em up bits. This is one of my favorite parts of the game. Snow litters the street as innocent chubby children scurry away to safety. Crazy clowns abound. Dark alleys around. Good stuff!

"C'mon fatty, we all know you can't read anyway!" [Smart, agitate the big strong mad man -Ed.]
“C’mon fatty, we all know you can’t read anyway!”
[Yeah, let’s not try to agitate the big strong freak -Ed.]
At the end of this level you come to a towering bloke reading the paper. Every evil operation needs some muscle. Welcome to the muscle. It won’t be long before he rips the paper to shreds and then rips your own damn head right off!


What scenes of spiraling madness await beyond this? Play it and see for yourself…



Back in the summer of 2011, I organized a volunteering event with some friends of mine. We were going to feed the homeless and wash their feet. It was a humbling experience that I’ll never forget. The first man whose feet I washed told me right off the bat, pardon the pun, that his name is Bruce Wayne. Furthermore, he claimed to be THE Batman. Naturally, I thought he was joking, possibly even crazy. As I washed his feet, “Bruce” shared childhood stories of his father with me. He worked 29 years in the truck driving business and spoke fondly of his dreams growing up. Didn’t take long for me to realize that he was actually quite normal but had a few bad breaks in life. At the end he thanked me for the foot washing and started to leave.

No youre not. Oh wait, you are?!
No you’re not. Oh wait, you are?!

Suddenly he stopped and turned back to me. He reached in his pocket, fishing for something. Then he showed me his identification card. SON OF A BITCH. Sure enough, there it was, clear as day. Name: BRUCE WAYNE. He wasn’t lying, he really was Bruce Wayne. He flashed me a little grin and I returned the gesture as we nodded before he walked out. Later I spoke with the coordinator and she explained to me that Bruce is a regular and how his Batman persona is his own personal way of coping with being homeless. Wow. It’s deeper than just “Oh, this dude’s a crazy homeless guy.” The experience reminded me not to judge a book by its cover and to walk a mile in someone’s shoes — or wash their feet — before you decide what their story is.




Batman Returns fared well with the critics. EGM’s Martin Alessi rated it 85% while Howard Grossman scored it at 86%. GameFan gave it ratings of 84, 85, 92 and a whopping 97%. Super Play, notorious for giving beat ‘em ups a hard time, rated it 87%. Batman Returns owns the distinct honor of being the highest rated SNES beat ‘em up in Super Play history. The SNES version of Batman Returns has a favorable reception with fans as gamers often rave about Batman Returns as being one of the better beat ‘em ups in the SNES library. By most accounts it was yet another Konami smash hit. Talk about having the Midas touch!

The best rated beat 'em up in Super Play lore
The best rated beat ‘em up in Super Play lore



I have to be honest, I’m not too crazy about Batman Returns. I know most people rave about it like it’s something epic but I just didn’t quite click with this one as I was hoping to. I think it’s a good game but not a great one, which most people seem to think it is. By no means am I saying my opinion is right and theirs is wrong. That would be silly. I’m simply saying that for me, Batman Returns is a case of diminishing returns. It starts off with a bang. You’re in the seedy streets of Gotham, kicking clown butt at every turn and throwing them through windows, even bashing their heads together. It’s all very satisfying indeed.


But then come the single plane sections which are a lot more restrictive and I feel are just not very fun. I even detected a slight bit of input lag, but maybe that’s just me. The platforming felt a bit clunky, too. The Mode-7 Batmobile stage, although it looks great in a still screenshot, is more of a chore to play than it is a good time. Some of the boss battles, especially Catwoman and The Penguin, felt very unfair. I took a lot of seemingly mandatory hits I just couldn’t avoid (particularly with The Penguin in his Mary Poppins form). I don’t mind a hard challenge but unavoidable hits is just plain annoying and spoils the overall experience a bit.


I wanted to like Batman Returns so much, and in certain parts I really do. Namely any part that was free roaming and allowed me to just beat up clowns in the good old fashioned beat ‘em up way. Not a fan of the cheap boss fights, Batmobile, platforming or single plane sections as they really detracted from the overall package for me. I can see why many rave about this game — it packs a punch visually, sounds great and is very faithful to its source material. But I just can’t give it an enthusiastic thumbs up; it contains a few too many warts and niggles for me to overlook. At the end of the day it’s still a quality Konami product and a solid example of a movie-to-game adaptation done right. But there’s a reason why — although many do like it a lot — Batman Returns isn’t quite in the same pantheon as some of Konami’s previous SNES classics.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 7
Longevity: 6

Overall: 7.0

I didn't do cartwheels over this game [Har har -Ed.]
I didn’t do cartwheels over this game…
Batman: I’m tired of clowning around!

Clown: Really, you? You’re one to talk, Mister! Look, if you returned in 1992, then how, pray tell, OH HOW did you begin in 2005?! What are you, some sort of magician?! Penn and Teller? David Copperfield? Can’t make up your bloody mind, can ya! You’re the one who needs to stop clownin’ round! Just WHO ARE YOU EH!?!

Batman: You need serious help. Here, let me give you a hand…

Justice League (SNES)

Pub: SunSoft | Dev: Blizzard | June 1995 | 20 MEGS
Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Blizzard | June 1995 | 20 MEGS

Superman. Batman. Wonder Woman. The Flash. These are some of the most well known and beloved super heroes of all time. Imagine if someone were to take them and throw them into a fighting game. That’s exactly what Blizzard and co-developer Sunsoft did in the summer of 1995. Sounds like a winning formula, right? Well… not so fast there, Flash. Justice League: Task Force is certainly a moderately flawed fighting game, but it’s not terribly offensive. It’s just kind of… there. For diehard SNES owners and fighting game/DC Comics fans only.

So many choices! Nice to see Flash get near top billing
Nice to see Flash get near top billing



Last night I caught the premier of the brand new Justice League movie. I had a good time but found the film to be rather uneven. The tone shifted at times from scene to scene. I felt slightly underwhelmed by the time it was over but it definitely sets the stage for better to come.


Being in a Justice League mood, I decided there was no better time than now to finally play a childhood curiosity that has stood for over 22 years — Justice League: Task Force. I remember seeing it in magazines around the time I was graduating from elementary school. By June of 1995, I had my mind on other things as life grew increasingly more complex. I still loved the SNES but things were rapidly changing. Although I longed to play Justice League, I never did.

March 5, 2006. DAMN
March 5, 2006. DAMN

After getting back into the SNES on January 17, 2006, I bought Justice League for $4.75 not two months later. But it wasn’t until earlier this week that I finally played it for the first time. It’s always neat to cross a childhood curiosity off your list once and for all, especially when it’s for something you’ve been wondering about for over 20 years. Seeing that eBay invoice by the way brought back some memories. I didn’t expect to see it when I cracked open my copy of Justice League. In fact, it completely took me by surprise. I forgot all about the invoice. I’m a big fan of archiving so seeing this simple piece of paper definitely made my day. We’re off to a good start with Justice League but it’s not how one starts, it’s how one ends.

Sorry Green Arrow fans. Cyborg is in the film instead
Sorry Green Arrow fans. Cyborg is in the film instead








Cashing in on the fighting game boom of the mid ’90s, Justice League: Task Force has your typical modes. The Story mode allows you to only pick from the 6 super heroes while the Battle mode allows you to use the super heroes in addition to 3 super villains. The difficulty is adjustable from 1-5 with the default level being pretty tough. Like many clones of the era, Justice League copies the classic 6 button formula of Street Fighter II.








Clark Kent (6’3″, 225 lbs) is a reporter for The Daily Planet, a major metropolitan newspaper. In reality, he is a super being from the planet Krypton. As Superman, he is dedicated to upholding “Truth, Justice and the American Way!” His fights are held appropriately enough on the rooftop of The Daily Plant, overlooking the beautiful city of Metropolis.













Superman’s powers are on full display here as he exhibits his heat vision, freeze breath and when all else fails, his burning fist is put to good use!








Bruce Wayne (6’2″, 210 lbs) is a master of martial arts, an impeccable detective and an inventor of specialized weaponry. He battles atop a roof overlooking Gotham City at night. This backdrop nicely captures the grit and grim of Gotham City.



















Batman’s classic Batarang serves as a natural choice for his fireball. He also has a variety of kick-based attacks including a Smoke Bomb Drop Kick reminiscent of M. Bison. The Dark Knight can also evade projectiles.








Princess Diana (5’11”, 135 lbs) is an Amazon warrior princess and an Amazonian ambassador to “Man’s World.” Wonder Woman preaches the power of peace and other Olympian virtues, never fighting without provocation. Her home and a lovely fountain can be seen in the background.



















Wonder Woman puts her Lasso of Truth to good use in Scorpion-like fashion. She can hover for a bit before performing a diving kick. She can also reflect projectiles with her wrist guards and hit you with a nasty Springing Flip Kick.








Wally West (6’0″, 175 lbs) gained super speed as a teenager in a freak accident while visiting his idol, the original Flash. He took over as The Flash when his idol died. He uses his power to run circles around some of the world’s most notorious criminals. His stage features flashes of lightning. Not only that but a piece of paper can be seen floating throughout. Both nice touches.













Fighting games from the mid ’90s always had one fighter with a super fast multi-hit strike. No one was born for that more than The Flash. His Tornado Blast takes a page right out of Joe Higashi’s playbook. And of course, you can’t be The Flash without some sort of dashing attack. Even better, he finishes off his dashing strike with a Dragon Punch.








Arthur Curry (6’1″, 325 lbs) was born in the undersea world of Atlantis. Aquaman was adopted by a lighthouse keeper and later became a founding member of the Justice League. His life’s work is keeping the oceans free of villains. Don’t spend too much time admiring the sea life in his stage — he’s tough enough without distractions!













Channeling Sub-Zero of Mortal Kombat fame, Aquaman delivers a mean Slide Kick. He also fires a deadly Water Blast and can knock you out cold with his Leaping Slam Punch. The Spinning Uppercut Punch protects him from projectiles.








Oliver Queen (5’11”, 178 lbs) began life as a pampered millionaire, but eventually chose a career in crime fighting, becoming Green Arrow. Green Arrow lives in Seattle, Washington, where he defends the weak and oppressed. Seattle’s Space Needle can be seen in his forest background.













Green Arrow’s special moves all revolve around his arrow expertise. Flaming arrows, icy arrows and from all angles. He’s a bit limited and niche, but hey, you got to respect a super hero that stays in his lane.














Barbara Ann Minerva (5’9″, 120 lbs) was once an important though ruthless archaeologist and treasure hunter. On an African expedition, she drank a potion that transformed her into the Cheetah. In order to maintain her power, she must hunt down victims. She and Wonder Woman are bitter rivals. Cheetah’s stage reflects her African exploits. She impales her victims with razor sharp claws.














Despero the Conqueror (8’5″, 450 lbs) is the last of a race of telepaths. He was once the iron-handed ruler of the planet Kalanor, a planet all but destroyed by nuclear wars. He is a savage opponent and a constant threat to the Justice League. His Eye Blast is the biggest fireball in the game. His Diving Kick and Leaping Head Fin Thrust shows off his deceptive speed. Stars can be seen flying by in the background of his spacecraft but if not careful, you’ll be seeing stars personally.



















Darkseid (7’6″, 515 lbs) betrayed his uncle, banished his own wife and son and murdered his mother in order to rule his home planet of Apokolips! A complex and cunning villain, Darkseid has been known to spare vanquished foes who have fought well. But don’t count on it! And watch out for his Sliding Backhand Punch, Laser Beams, Leaping Knee Kick and Jumping Head Stomp. I don’t care if you’re Superman, that will give anyone a serious headache!



Justice League: Task Force was also released on the Sega Genesis. I haven’t played it but it’s interesting to note the different aesthetics between the two. The Genesis one takes on a more comic book-like appearance. The two games have different backgrounds and even special moves. An interesting oddity if nothing else. EGM gave the Genesis version ratings of 4, 5.5, 7 and 7.


Ouch. Super Play gave it the proverbial kiss of death
Ouch. Super Play gave it the proverbial kiss of death

Justice League: Task Force came out during an odd time. Back in June of 1995, the 16-bit era was starting to wind down as well as the fighting game boom. The game also seemed to come out of nowhere, with no Justice League connection elsewhere recently released to the public. Sure, these super heroes and villains have a certain level of timelessness to them, but the release date and more importantly average gameplay did it zero favors. Thus, Justice League came and went with little fanfare. These iconic characters definitely deserved better. Super Play slammed it, giving it a paltry score of 30% (OUCH).

C'mon SPlay, it's not that bad
C’mon SPlay, it’s not THAT bad…


Such wasted potential. Sigh
Such wasted potential. Sigh

Justice League: Task Force feels a lot like a day late and a dollar short. Or in this case, a few years late and a fun fighting engine amiss. It would have fared better if it were released in mid 1992 as opposed to the summer of 1995. By then, SNES owners had already experienced the likes of the Street Fighter II trilogy, Mortal Kombat II, TMNT: Tournament Fighters and World Heroes 2. Hell, even games like Fighter’s History and World Heroes, both rather underrated arcade to SNES ports, blow Justice League out of the water so bad that not even Aquaman can save it.

Not my superhero game
Not my superhero game

There’s a reason why you never see Justice League on anyone’s Super Nintendo Hidden Gems list. It’s a strictly middle of the road fighting game. The visuals are decent looking in spots but the animation leaves a lot to be desired. Some of the music tracks are alright but others are mute-inducing. The sound effects are terrible and there are no voiceovers whatsoever. It’s a small thing but I love it when I hear an announcer proclaiming, “ROUND ONE… FIGHT!” or when my characters talk during their special moves. These absences only further accentuate the cheapness of the product we received… a sort of half-baked attempt to cash in on both the fighting game boom and the general popularity of iconic comic book characters. While it’s certainly not unplayable by any means, you would have to be a pretty diehard fan to go out of your way to play this when there are so many better choices available. Justice League, Unite? More like Justice League, Retreat.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 5.5
Longevity: 5

Overall: 5.5

Facepalm, indeed
Facepalm, indeed

DYK: Dan MacArthur worked on the SNES versions of World Heroes and Justice League. He did a fantastic job with the World Heroes port. Justice League, not so much.