First Tim and now Chris, I guess I’m resigned to making an Amiga section for the site! It will be a pleasure, and hopefully you think the same of Mr McAuley’s review of one of my favourite Amiga games plus some game-inspired artwork from the man himself!
I was the grand old age of 6 when the unmissable phenomenon the was Tim Burton’s cinematic adaptation of the Batman franchise exploded into pop culture. This film is undoubtedly responsible for the comicbook movie boom which we current find ourselves in. It’s possibly my initial encounter with the caped crusader as well. Ironic as the kid friendly Adam West series passed me by and it was Michael Keaton’s foreboding figure that beckoned me onto Gotham’s mean and moody streets.
The hype surrounding the film was nothing less than dominating and I can remember the TV commercials and particularly the bubblegum trading cards we swapped at school breaktime. With this being such a huge film there was also going to be a computer game tie-in and the most popular and powerful machine at the time was the Commodore Amiga. Film tie-in stalwarts Ocean Software picked up the licence to convert the film to game format.
Graphically I was impressed at the time but many reviewers found that it looked decidedly 8-bit. Which considering the Amiga’s capabilities was extremely disappointing. The Batman sprite is clearly defined however and the background of the platforming sections contain great colour and shading depth. I love the graphical variety in the enemy type which show criminals in dark brown trench-coats carrying six-shooters to a recognisable Bob the Goon hurling Molotov cocktails at our pointy eared hero. However it’s the famous driving sections that astonish and fare better graphically. The scrolling speed is incredible and there’s some awesome detail in the night time cityscape backgrounds.
One of the game’s strongest points is its sound design. Amiga music always has a reputation for being extremely high quality. Batman the Movie’s soundtrack does not disappoint, unfortunately none of the music is based on Danny Elfman’s iconic themes but it’s still energetic and catchy. It helps project an appropriate atmosphere for each level. The driving sections feature a growling guitar effect while the Cathedral level really aids in helping the player feel like Batman. The equally well designed and appropriate sound effects compliment the game’s high octane action.
The game plays excellently. The platforming sections are well constructed with continue points placed in just the right place so that you won’t get too frustrated when you die. Enemy placement is also well thought out, these features demonstrate attention to detail when it comes to level design. The most famous aspect of this version is the variety contained in the gameplay. The driving and flying sections provide some serious pulse pounding action. The puzzle sections while not advanced, offer another change of scene for the brain before returning to the platforming action.
While this is a film tie-in, the game doesn’t follow the film’s plot exactly. It begins by dropping you into the Axis Chemical Plant without a preamble through Gotham’s criminal infested streets. One thing that the game has in bucketloads however is re-playability. It’s a difficult game to complete but it has the “one more go” factor in spades.