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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Memories #20: Batman Forever

Oh, Batman. You have no super powers, yet you're still one of the greatest of heroes. Your movies are (mostly) awesome, your cartoons are among the best in animation and do I even need to mention the comics? Yup, that covers everything. Batman is great on all fronts. Wait, I missed something didn't I? Oh, yeah the Bat games. Now a days we have really good Bat titles in game form with the exception of the occasional PC debacle, but the Dark Knight has had it really well in terms of video games over the past five years. Even in the 1980s and 1990s Batman was doing quite well on the gaming front. And then Acclaim stepped in.

Unlike a lot of kids, I grew up being exposed to more good licensed games than the ones that were awful. DuckTales, Chip 'N Dale: Rescue Rangers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, The Magical Quest Staring Mickey Mouse, you know, a lot of quality titles. True, I did play a few games that did not do the license justice like Back to the Future, but that wasn't enough to make me walk in the opposite direction of a game based on a licensed property. That all changed one weekend in 1995.

After Donkey Kong Country was released, the SNES proved that it still had staying power not just in terms of gameplay, but visually as well. This was good news for Nintendo since the N64 wouldn't release until late 1996 in America and Sony and SEGA were flashing their 32-bit consoles around. It pains me to admit I went through a brief period where I thought good graphics equaled an outstanding game. Such a faulty mentality is what got me to give the horrendous Rise of the Robots (another game by Acclaim, surprise, surprise) a look. I saw ads and TV spots for Batman Forever and I was really looking forward to this game. "The real game begins" these ads proclaimed and boasted of over 80 action packed stages and then there was of course, those 32 bit graphics. I'd like to say that my previous exposure to good Batman games was a reason I really wanted to play Batman Forever but in truth, the promise of a lengthy game and mindblowing graphics is what hooked me like a fish.

During one of my family's regular trips to Blockbuster Video, I was allowed two games to rent. Out of curiosity and my growing interest in RPGs, one of the games was Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. The other was the much anticipated Batman Forever. Of the two, I was most excited to play Batman Forever and I could not wait to get home and play this game. As a teenager, you're prone to making some pretty big mistakes. Getting a girl pregnant, wrecking your parent's car, or cheating on a test. Me, I rented Batman Forever.

Back then, nothing was worse than finding out the game you rented was gutter trash. It did not take long for me to realize that Batman Forever was an abysmal attempt at a Batman game. As a Mortal Kombat player, I was quick to catch on that some brilliant mind thought that the Mortal Kombat fighting engine would work well as a beat 'em up. From the way Batman and Robin stood to the moves they executed, Batman Forever was Mortal Kombat without Scorpion and company. Batman Forever may have used the Mortal Kombat fighting engine but it didn't have any of those gamesstyle. The action not only looked dull, it felt dull. Hitting opponents wasn't at all satisfying because every move you could do lacked any sort of omph or impact. Even the standard Mortal Kombat Uppercut was a disappointment.

The biggest offender to Batman Forever had to be the controls. There were instance where I'd walk into a room and see that there were places clearly meant for me to advance a floor up or below, but using the grappling hook was so frustrating. I would fiddle around with the buttons, use it and then accidentally switch it off. The SNES controller has so many buttons to work with and yet the game has to use some ridiculously complex method just to activate one of Batman's standard tools.

I turned the game off only to try it out again later with a good friend of mine, but he quickly came to the same conclusion I had: Batman Forever was hot garbage. Thankfully, Lufia & The Fortress of Doom made up for my decision to rent Batman Forever as I enjoyed that game immensely.

Though my time with Batman Forever was brief (very brief), it was like a really bad relationship in that it left a scar. Before Batman Forever, I had no problems with licensed games. Batman Forever changed that and made me especially bitter towards super hero games. It took the 2000 Spider-man video game to wash the horrible taste of Batman Forever out of my mouth.

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