Dada dada dada dada... BATMAN! The Joker is once more at large in Gotham City as reports flood in of kitchen chemicals that have been doctored with Smilex Gas.
"Begorrah Commissioner, the Joker's laughing at us what can we do?" drawls the bigtown bobby. "That fiendish felon the Joker, may have the city in stitches but there's one person who should be able to take the smile off his face"
"You don't mean..." Oh yes he does. So as the Commissioner reaches for the Batphone, the latest batch of the film record of the video of the T shirt of the game begins...
As you all know from last issue's mega tape, Batman the computer game is now available for the Spectrum and the graphics are good, the music is melodic and the gameplay is great. The action takes place over five scenarios and faithfully follows the film - whaddaya mean you ain't seen it? You got no street cred at all? Okay, for the bebefit os the zero trends... The game unfolds in the Axis Chemical Plant, where as chance would have it, Jack Napier fell into a vat of chemicals which did a biological jobbie, not on his Pierr Caradin boxers but on his noggin. Exit one Mr Average, enter the Joker. He uses the planet to produce Smilex which is currently the scourge of the Metropolis. Batman must find the Joker in the labyrinth of the factory, hampered by his inevitable cronies who try to shoot, bomb and gernally be extremely unhelpful to our caped crusader.
So, armed with only his trusty self loading Batarang, and his own line in express lifts, Batman must run, jump climb and swing his way to the Joker. Control is by keyboard or joystick and the fire button being the crux of the gameplay.
A direction plus fire sends the batrope blasting off to hook onto a handy ledge or even to KER POW! a cronie. Problem being, Batman can't move whilst using the rope so it's always a good idea to clean up the baddies before using it. It's also very handy for dastardly do-no-gooders on diagonals as the Batarang will only fire left or right. Once the Batrope is secured, the masked avenger can swing to and fro and by releasing the fire button at the right time, can leap across gaps in platforms.
Batman loses energy each time he is shot, bombed or dropped on by baddies. Energy status is shown by how far the picture of Batman's visage has turned into that of the Joker's. By sending the Joker for an early bath in the chemical vat, Batman then returns to the Batcave as fast as possible to analyse and neutralise the Smilex. He must drive through the Gotham City rush hour, avoid energy depleting collisions with other vehicles, walls and... yes, that arch villain the Joker is brining up the rear in his Transit to make sure Batman moves it!
An arrow shows the direction of the Batcave, turns being made by hooking the Batarang onto a convenient lamppost and pulling the Batmobile into line. Why doesn't he use a Bat steering wheel? Phew! Meanwhile. back at the Batcave... having introduced the SMilex to the Batcomputer you must crack the Joker's code. Select each icon and the computer will tell you how many you've got right. Holy smoking Bat droppings, you've done it! Onto the next level.
Into the Batwing to save the people of Gotham City from Smilex filled balloons at the local parade. You must use the Batwing to cut the balloon's string and launch them skywards to do their dirty deed to the ozone layer instead.
Having saved the day and just about to tuck into a Batburger, our hero runs to the batpole one last time to rescue Vikky Vale from the clutches of our vile villain. It all takes place at the Cathedral (Boinggg), and using the Batbits in the Batmanner, he must make his way to the roof to confront the Joker one last time. Watch out for the rats which cannot be killed - avoid them by climbing up the Batrope whenever they scurry across the floor. If you've seen the film, wore the T-shirt, bought the commemorative mugs and listened to the album then you'll probably buy the game so's yer collection is complete.
If not then have a look at the demo on last month's megatape and if after all that you buy it then it's just got to be great hasn't it. If it's not and like me you find that behind all the great gameplay there are just five games of the film, wiz graphics neato touches.
It seems like only yesterday that I was standing in the fifteen mile queue at my local flea pit waiting to see Michael Keaton's controversial portrayal of Batman and Kim Basenger's, well, er portrayal! And now the hype has gone and a little black box flops depressingly through the Crew letter box and clunks nonchalantly to the bedraggled door mat.
So what's left over when all the glitter's gone? Well the game is certainly above average in the presentation stakes. A nice play area with unobtrusive score boards and a life meter that slowly turns from Batman's face into the Joker's as your energy falls off. Large detailed sprites almost cartoon like in appearance and an assortment of different scenarios.
The first section is a platform shoot 'em up allowing you to use the Batarang to swing from shelf to shelf. It's all against the clock and all the stages are riddled with the Joker's henchmen ready to take your life away. Other stages include a high speed chase in the Batmobile, a puzzle section and cathedral platform action.
There's a lot of mileage still left in this game and it has already sold in huge quantities when it first came out.
Anyone who's new to the game will find it hdrd going at first, but don't be put off. Where as it's not as thrilling as the box would have you believe Batman still holds his licensed head up high long after the hype has gone. And you can take it from me, it's not the last we've heard of the Caped Crusader!
Price: £3.99 Tape, £7.99 Disk
Reviewer: Steve Keen
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