£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Matt Bielby
You've worn the T-shirt (well, I have), you've seen the movie (about 16 times), you've stuck on the stickers, pinned on the badges, even read the YS Megapreview. And you're probably sick to the Bat-gills of this whole so-called Bat-phenomenon by now. But hold it! just one more Bat-thing to cope with, I promise you! The best is yet to come...
Or so Ocean keeps telling us, anyhow. Batman (The Game Of The Movie) didn't quite manage to make it out in time for the height of Bat-fever, but it's done a lot better than some film licences I could mention. And not only is it current, it's also a blooming good game! Let's take a look at it shall we?
For a start - as seems to be Ocean's wont these days - it's a multiload (on 48K anyway), with each section based closely on a sequence from the film. Two of them (the first and the last) are platform and ladders shoot-'em-ups, and very snazzy platform and ladders shoot-'em-ups they are too. The middle two (or two and a half if you count the quick Joker's puzzle sequence that appears between the second and third loads) are a different kettle of fish, though. They're much simpler, more limited games, though just as flawlessly executed.
Anyway, the first level. This is the bit where you're pursuing the Joker around a chemical factory. There are two different types of gun-firing hoods after you - men with hats and men, erm, without hats - as well as other natural hazards like energy-sapping, dripping gunk and jets of steam. The main problem though is making your way to the top of the building. Arrows appear to point out your route (another recent Ocean trait) but - oh no! - there seem to be loads of big gaps you have to cross. Luckily Bats not only comes equipped with his normal take-out-the-bad-guys Batarang, but a Bat-rope too. Aim up or diagonally up and he throws out a line which either winches him up a level or allows him to swing Tarzan-like across a gap. In fact, it's more Bionic Commando than 'Tarzan' but better animated. In fact, this whole section is extremely well done. Largish and very clear monochrome sprites, good smooth animation and scrolling, and well though-out gameplay - it's all here. It's large too, and Tipshop should see the new Bat-maps start flooding in any day now.
Load Two is a different box of tricks altogether. You're driving the Batmobile back to the Batcave against a time limit, but other cars keep getting in your way. It's a horizontal scroller which involves dodging in and out of the other cars and watching out for 'turn left' arrows. When one appears you should deftly shoot out a Bat-rope to spin you round the corner and head up-screen (or in my case, miss a corner, turn around, head back against the traffic, miss the corner again and so on). You can't fault this level - it's fast, and the blue cars are very clear against the black road - except to say "Is that it?" Basically it's a very well executed bit of simple budget gameplay, and I exepcted more.
The same goes for the next level too. It's the parade sequence, with the Joker's lorries - complete with poison gas balloons trailing above them - cruising down Gotham High Street. Here you come now in the Batwing, flying along at a set distance above the ground (though you can move the plane left, right forward and back). Your job is to cut the lines holding the gas balloons and send them floating harmlessly away. Every so often a few helicopters appear which you have to dodge, and then it's more lorries again. I dunno. It's very faithful to the film, and very well done, but again the gameplay is just so simple. Too simple really. The Joker's quiz sequence, which comes between these two and gives you a minute to work out what three household items contain the Joker's poisons by a process of deduction, is a nice little touch - but that's all it is. A slightly disappointing centre section then, but things come alive again on the last load.
This is a reprisal of the first scene, though set in the Gotham cathedral. This time some of the men throw bombs at you rather than shoot (very tricky to deal with) rats snap at your heels, and some platforms crumble as you walk on them. The map seems even bigger this time and there are even more sequences demanding skilful use of the Batrope. All in all it's as snazzy a platform game as we've seen in ages. Get to the top in time, defeat the last two goons who lurk there, and you can catch the Joker climbing the ladder to his waiting 'copter. Toss a Batarang at him and you get a great end sequence as he falls down the outside of the building passing gargoyles as he goes, for what must be about six or seven screens.
I liked Batman (The Game Of The Movie) a lot. It's as faithful, supremely well executed and generally wazzy a film conversion as you could ever hope to see. But... there's a 'but'. The platform levels are great, but the simplicity of the driving sections is a bit of a let-down. Add a shooting element (after all, both Bat-vehicles were armed in the film), or more variety to these bits, and it would have been a better game. In fact, it would have stood a good chance of a Megagame.
Actually (has a quick rethink), let's be fair. It's blooming good. It's probably Megagame-good. It's just that The Untouchables (a brilliant game, perhaps the best released on the Speccy this year) is even better. I dunno. Buy them both. You won't be disappointed. And I'm sure you'd make Ocean very happy.
More fun than a bouncy castle, better looking than a double cheeseburger. It's JON PILLAR and RICH PELLEY!
Reviewer: Jon Pillar
Faster than a speeding Royal! More powerful than Arnie's eyebrows! Able to leap tall buildings in a single-seater jump jet! ...Well, that's enough about me, what of the man in the all-over welly boot? in this game of the film, T-shirt and key-ring you're the sinister vigilante himself. You're out on a five-level mission to clean up Gotham City - and you're not carrying a broom. The gameplay is a neat combination of two styles - the four-way scrolling platform shoot-'em-up, and the horizontally-scrolling driving game. Seeing as it's from the programmers of Robocop, the fact the platform levels are very, um, Robocoppy is unsurprising. It's jolly good fun and quite addictive, but there's a problem. You've got an energy system and there are no top-up icons - so just as you feel you're getting somewhere, you run out of energy and get sent back miles. Aarghhh! The driving sections are fairly playable but (but! But!) you've got no weapons, and it's rather unrealistic to have the mighty Batvehicles bashed about by VW Beetles.
To sum up then, you get a lot of game for your coins, but the flaws bring down the overall rating.
Coming, erm, now actually, to a cinema near you...
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO FILM AND TELLY GAMES
Knowing full well what a square-eyed bunch you are, we thought it was about time you were given the facts on film and television licenced games. Once again, JONATHAN DAVIES was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(Cough. Deep, manly voice.)
'In the beginning there were loads and loads of Speccy games. Loads of them. They sold all right, but not exactly in enormous numbers. The trouble was, you see, that none of them seemed particularly exciting. They had nothing that caught the public eye. They were just computer games. Had no 'cred'.
Then a small cog within a long-since-extinct software house had an idea.
"Why don't we give our next game the same name as an incredibly popular film? Then everyone would buy it just because they'd seen the film and they'd foolishly think the game would be just as good. How about i, eh?"
"Er, we could do, I suppose."
"But what if the film company finds out? They might sue us or something."
"I know - we could ask them first."
"That's a point. Go on then."
"Yeah. Give them a ring and ask if they'd mind."
"Oo-er. Cripes. Okay then." (Dials very long trans-Atlantic phone number.)
"Hullo. We'd like to name our new game after your film and we were wondering if it was okay by you. Right... yes... oh, I see." (Cups hand over receiver.) "They want us to give them lots of money."
"Erm, well in that case we'd better." (Removes hand.) "Yes, that'll be fine. We'll send you some right away. Bye."
"How are we going to come up with a game that's anything like the film?"
"I don't know really."
"How about if we have a bloke walking around shooting people?"
"That sounds fine. I'll program it right away."
And so the film and telly licence was born. It... cough. Choke.
Oops. There goes the deep, manly voice.
Anyway, film and telly games, eh? Everyone's doing them these days, as they're one of the few remaining ways of making serious money with computer games. Run a grubby finger down the charts and you'll find nearly all the top-sellers are film and telly licences. (Or arcade conversions, of course.)
But why do we keep buying them? After all, just because a game's named after a really brill film doesn't mean it's going to be any good, does it? Surely we aren't buying them simply because of the flashy name on the box?
Erm, well in the old days, software houses assumed this to be the case, and chucked out a stream of absolutely appalling games with 'big name' titles. Things like Miami Vice, The Dukes Of Hazard and Highlander were all pretty dreadful, but it was hoped that they'd sell on the strength of their names. But we weren't fooled. Oh no. The games didn't sell well, and the companies were forced to think again.
Eventually they came up with... the 'bloke walking around shooting things' idea. And they've used it more or less ever since. Lucky then that they tend to be jolly good all the same, and sometimes come up with the odd original idea to spice things up (like The Untouchables did, or perhaps Back To The Future Part II).
As always seems to be the case, the trusty YS ratings system doesn't really seem adequate when it comes to film and telly games. So here's what we've put together instead...
What does it look like? Nice? Or not very nice at all? (You mean are the graphics any good? Ed) Er, yes. That's it in a nutshell. (Then why didn't you just say the first place? Ed) Erm...
How does the general atmosphere compare to the film or telly programme the game's meant to go with? Have programmers just taken a bog-standard game and stuck a flashy name on it? Or have they made an effort to incorporate a bit of the 'feel' of the original?
Does the plot follow along the same sort of lines as the film or telly programme? Is there plenty action-packedness? And is the game the same all way through, or does it follow the original's twists and turns?
Um, how does the game compare to all the licences around at the moment? Is it better? Or worse? In other words, is it a 'cut' above the rest? (is that really the best you can manage? Ed)
BATMAN THE MOVIE
Along with Robocop, which is probably the biggest-selling game of any kind ever, this was one of Ocean's biggest sellers last year. Its success was obviously a result of the film's popularity rather than anything great about the game itself, although its very well put together and enjoyable all the same.
Needless to say, Batman is the chap you control, and he walks around killing people. Well, on the first and last levels he does anyway. These are easily the best, with Bat-rope and Batarang featuring prominently. The rest of the game consists of a driving bit, which is a bit boring, a flying bit, which is also slightly tedious, and a puzzle-solving bit. The graphics all the way through are great, if a bit monochrome, and the game is generally one of the most comprehensive film conversions around. It's just a bit obvious that all the programming effort went into the walking-about parts, and they're the bits that are just like any other film game. Ho hum.
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