Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Batman Returns", NES, 1993.

Tim Burton may not have known what he was doing with the Batman movies, but it sure was different! The second one hits that sweet spot on the timeline where umpteen different unrelated versions of it are licensed for every machine under the sun. This ad's target audience? Somewhat clueless dad, whose kids still have last generation's console, but isn't being sold on the game by anything remotely related to the content of the cartridge.
OUR NEW BATMAN GAME IS ANYTHING BUT TAME.
Batman Returns for your NES brings it with the misery of a city that has fallen prey to Catwoman, The Penguin, and the Red Triangle Circus Gang. Now as these maniacal freaks tear at the heart of Gotham City in a six-level, jaw-breaking spectacular, you must once again venture into the dark night as Batman. But you'll need more than the Batmobile, Batskiboat and Batarang to tame their fiendish frenzy. You'll need all your fighting skills and the deadly spin attack to thrash hundreds of arch enemies who are looking to destroy you!
"Brings with it the misery of a city that has fallen prey"... extraordinarily glum ad copy, but a moment of surprising poetry! We get a glimpse of it again, with the "maniacal freaks tear[ing] at the heart of Gotham City", but quickly the English Lit grad student is sacked as we fall back into the tired cliches of alliteration (fiendish frenzy) and shopping lists of regrettable obligatory tie-in trademarks (Batmobile, Batarang, AND... Batskiboat? Not actually a skiboat for Batman, but actually just a regular boat for Batman's Russian counterpart, Batski.) It gets worse with the gameplay described: you'll need all your fighting skills AND the deadly spin attack, which for reasons we can't adequately explain are categorized external to the fighting skills portfolio. You'll use them to thrash (wicked!) hundreds of arch enemies (each one archer than the last?) I think an arch enemy worth his salt might aspire to ruin your good family name, deceive you into destroying that which is most dear to you, sour your family fortune or at least cast your loving partner's fidelity into suspicion -- consider the Count of Monte Cristo -- but these ones are content to simply destroy you. (Well, those outcomes would also likely destroy you emotionally, but I haven't yet seen the video game bold enough to depict them.) Dad noticed none of this as none of these words were decked out in vinyl fetish gear.
I like the hint line advertised at the bottom. 70 cents a minute for a pre-recorded voice to ask you if you were using the deadly spin attack adequately to thrash maniacal freaks on your Batskiboat. That's cheaper than a hit of LSD and gets you roughly the same experience!