Gotham City's caped crusader continues his quest against crime in Ocean's new release, Batman. In this computerised adventure, our clean-living hero's ever faithful friend Robin has been kidnapped by an evil arch villain and it's up to Batman to rescue the Boy Wonder from the clutches of the forces of evil.
Once you've configured the controls for the game, defining the keys or joystick as appropriate and selecting the sound levels you require, Batman sproings into action, sliding down the pole into the Batcave complex. He's got a problem - the Batmobile doesn't work! Suddenly the superhero remembers - Robin was servicing the Batmobile when he was abducted, and seven vital Batmobile parts are lying hidden in the Batcave. Before he can roar forth onto the roads, Batman has to collect the seven Bat Bits and install them in the Batmobile.
At the start of the game Batman's powers are limited - he can stroll round the caves, and that's about it. He needs to find some Bat Equipment to give him the powers needed to complete his quest. Four vital Bat Devices have to be collected: Jet Batboots (for jumping); Batbag (allows the caped crusader to pick up and put down objects); a thruster (allows horizontal movement when falling) and a Low Gravity Batbelt (halves the speed of a fall).
The Batcave's architects obviously worked on the castle in Knight Lore - the resemblance is striking - and the game is viewed and played in the same fashion. Four Bat Device icons in the bottom right hand corner of the screen are highlighted when a piece of Bat Equipment is collected. Four more Bat Icons on the left of the screen are used to display Batman's status. Our hero starts the game with nine lives, and can collect more during his journey by collecting an Extra Life Batpill - the number of lives remaining is shown under a Batsign logo. Three more icons are used to display jumping ability, shield status and energy, and are activated when an appropriate Batpill is collected.
Batpills look like small Batmen, and tend to fall from the roof of the Batcave. They all look the same, and the only way to find out what a Batpill does, is to pick it up and spot which Batpill icon gains a number. If an Energy Batpill is picked up, Batman can move at high speed - a counter beneath the lightning flash icon ticks down with each superfast step until it reaches zero and it's back to a strolling pace. Shield Batpills give Batman invulnerability for a while, and Jump Batpills allow a number of double strength jumps to be made. To add a little extra excitement to the game, Neutralizing Batpills turn up now and again, which remove any shield energy and super jumps in Batman's inventory. Bad News, as the instructions say...
Another very useful thing in the Bat Cave are Reincarnation stones. If Batman touches one it disappears after recording the state of play and Batman's position. If Batman fails in his quest and runs out of lives, the game can be continued from the point when Batman last touched a Reincarnation Stone.
The Batcave has been extensively remodelled from the movie days, and it's huge! Unfortunately, there are now some very nasty creatures lurking in the hallowed halls, all of them keen to remove a life from our hero's stocks - one touch from a baddie and it's one life less for the caped crusader. Spiked floors, which usually have dissolving pieces of catwalk above them, are deadly, as are some rather more innocuous objects. Conveyor belts and lifts as well as suspended, disappearing and sinking floors also provide problems to an unwary Batperson. Sometimes objects or exits to a room are too high to reach or jump onto, so Batman has to pick up Bat Objects (stuff like Elephant's Feet and Art Nouveau Tea Pots amongst other things) and pile them up to enable him to achieve his goal.
Batman is rushing to rescue his friend - if you leave him standing in once place for too long he crosses his arms and taps a foot impatiently. He wants to collect the Bat Equipment, find the seven parts of the Batmobile so he can teleport to the launchpad, get into the Batmobile, start the motor and get on with rescuing Robin. There's no time to lose...
Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Keyboard play: adjustable, and very responsive
Use of colour: Okay; avoids attributes well
Graphics: excellent, with some really imaginative characters
Sound: not overly wonderful: a Batman theme tune and a few spot effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: more than 150
'Despite the tremendous amount of Knight Lore type looking games I still find that coming back to this type of game is lots of fun. The front-end menu is great and caters for nearly everything you need, including three sound levels. There are lots of well detailed little creatures and objects to admire as you walk (or fly) around Batman's caves. The animation of Batman is very life like and adds to the realism of the game which I'm sure will appeal to all age groups. The instructions are well balanced so that you can easily get into the game but still find lots of problems that will cause a lot of hassle - or pleasure if you solve them. Nearly every room has something to do in it, which means that there isn't much trudging around aimlessly - which annoyed me about Movie. I loved Movie and this is a great follow up from Ocean, even if you have already got a shelf full of this sort of game.'
'What a great game! The standard of games recently has shot up and it's games like Batman that contribute to the rise in standards. The 3D effect is great, and the game has got quite a front end on it, with adjustable sound and Dark Star type definable keys. Despite the fact that this game shouldn't take a good player a millennium to complete, it is challenging to a certain extent and is fun enough to keep anyone at the keys for a good while. The reincarnation stones scattered around the playing area are extremely useful, as they give you the opportunity to lose a few lives trying to suss out a problem and come back later with a few lives remaining. Overall, a very polished and attractive game that should keep fans of the TV series happy for ages, as well as everyone else.'
'Bat Ma-a-a-an. Yes folks, the caped crusader comes to your Sinclair Spectrum bringing thrills, spills and chills in an action packed arcade adventure program. Gasp at the excellent graphics. Scratch your skull in bemusement at the tricky puzzles your hero has to negotiate and watch in wonderment as the defender of truth and faith attempts to rescue his lifelong sidekick Robin from the clutches of the evil villain. You will not be disappointed if you walk around to your nearest computer software stockist and purchase this truly exciting piece of software.'
This is a strange feeling! I've only just finished reviewing the new Batman game and now I've got to go back in time and review the 3-D style Batman game again. If you've ever heard of games like Head Over Heels, then that's exactly what Batman is like. Set out in a 3-D style that is just so successful. Unlike the Batman movie this game stars Robin the Boy Wonder as well as the Caped Crusader himself, in fact if it weren't for Robin there would be no game! He has gone and got himself caught by The Joker and Riddler (working together for some reason). So what is your mission as Batman? You must rescue Robin of course, but it's not as simple as that. The Batmobile is split into seven parts, and these must all be found and assembled before you can even get out of the Batcave (why doesn't he just call a taxi?). All the Bat equipment's also got to be found: things like Batboots, the Batbelt and the Batbag. All that lot's enough to keep you busy for quite a while. Even if you don't complete it first time (which you doubtlessly won't), the excellent graphics will keep you coming back for more and more.
Batman has been programmed to the highest degree with excellent jingles to accompany the brill graphics and playability. Another essential purchase if you have only just got your Spectrum.
Holy Smoke! High above Gotham City a shaft of light slices through the darkness. But only on man in the metropolis knows its true meaning - it's a call for help that he has answered many times before. Bruce Wayne races to the phone and hears a familiar voice.
Commissioner Gordon: Batman? (For it is he!) Bad news. Robins been kidnapped.
Batman: Impossible! He's down in the Batcave.
Commissioner Gordon: Then this ransom note's a ruse. But...
HaS Robin been kidnapped? Or has THe Boy Wonder wandered off? Can the Caped Crusader come to his rescue? Will the Penguin end up egg on his face? Has the Joker cracked it? Is Catwoman feline felonious? All may (or may not) be revealed by Tommy 'Boy Wonder' Nash as he reviews Ocean's new megagame, Batman.
Wheeeeeee! Batman comes slip slidin' away down the Batpole and he's off on his Robin rescue mission. Yes, that's how the straight-backed, square-chinned superhero of comic strip and silver screen makes his debut into software. Okay, he's a mite chubbier than you may remember him from the pages of DC Comics but his cloak and mask make him instantly recognisable. But now he's on his own - sans sidekick. The other half of the Dynamic Duo has gone walkies, though the exact reason for this hadn't been concocted when I saw the game. At that time, the finishing touches were just being added to the plot though the game itself was a hundred per cent complete. No doubt some perfectly implausible explanation involving one of Batman's arch enemies will have been thought up by the time the game hits your Speccy.
Originally, Robin was meant to have a starring role in the game alongside his crepuscular companion and the programmer's even got round to designing a spritely figure for him. But then they hit a stumbling block. How do you make it easy for the player to control two superheroes simultaneously. It was at this point that Robin was conveniently kidnapped! Batman's first task is to collect the four items that aid him in his mighty powers. But not being the tidiest of superheros, he has to find out where he left the things in the initial rooms of the game that make up the Batcave. He's after his Batboots that allow him to jump; his Batbag so he can pick things up; his Batthruster, to shoot him sideways and his Batbelt, which reduces the pull of gravity on him so he can 'fly' further. The games cleverly designed so that you can't progress beyond a certain stage without these items. With them, the Caped Crusader is ready to go crime-fighting.
Robin didn't go without a struggle. The seven parts of the Batcraft, which he was servicing at the time of the snatch, are scattered all around the Batacombs. And before Batman can rush to his rescue, he must find all the bits so that they can be teleported to the launchpad, situated at the top of the very highest tower. The game ends when Batman's sitting in the reassembled craft ready to rescue Robin and bring the Gotham gangsters who got him to justice. (Note for Batfans: the reason for having a batcraft instead of the Batmobile is that a vehicle with wheels would've taken up too much memory!)
The Batacombs are a complex maze of at least 150 rooms spread over nine floors. Well, it might be 150 but it could just as easily be 151 or even 153. The programmers weren't sure and I wasn't counting! The screens have a definite Knightlorish look about them but the much larger number of rooms means many more puzzles. Batman will test your arcade/timing skills to the limit but it'll also burn your brain out with its bewildering range of tricks and traps.
The Ultimate influence is unmistakable, of course. The game has a similar technique of forcing you through doors if you're not quite lined up. And you can pick up objects in a room and use them there but you can't transport them to other screens a la Fairlight. And the rooms reset to their original state each time you re-enter them. But the game's a definite development from the Knightlore days. Take, for example, the reincarnation pills that allow you to restart the game from the point at which you collected one last - great idea that. And then there's the ability to define a single key that lets you pick up and jump at the same time. Cuts out all the contortions with keys that you had to go through to achieve the Ultimate accolade. And Batman keeps up a constant speed no matter how many objects there are in a room - none of those short, slow steps that held Sabreman back on full screens.
It's this attention to detail that marks Batman out as a true megagame. Hardly surprising then that it's taken ten months to write. You're even given three options for the sound effects. Nasty lets you hear every sound that resounds round the Batacombs; Useful only makes a noise when the caped one crashes into things; arid Late At Night is silent.
The only thing that's missing is the crazy cast of criminals from the original cartoons. If ever there's a follow-up, perhaps the programmers will pick up a Penguin or take the gag out of the Joker's mouth...
How does Batman's mum call him in for a meal? Dinner dinner dinner dinner, dinner dinner dinner dinner - BATMAN!
93% Issue 28
CRASH's Overall comment described this as 'a neatly finished game which does Batman proud'. But Ocean took all the Batman mythos and promptly forgot about it in an (admittedly commercially successful) attempt to cash in on Alien 8 etc - this game has nothing to do with Batman.
Even the main character graphic shows a squat little figure who looks more like a Smurf than the Caped Crusader. And the Batcave has become some sort of architectural monstrosity furnished with conveyor belts and spiked floors and populated by creatures ranging from puppy dogs to lion-headed mutants. Maybe he's had it redone, but it never looked that way in the comics, the TV series, the films and the graphic novels.
All that aside, Batman is quite a good game. The graphics and animation are superior to Ultimate's, and the Bat Devices and Batpills which give Fatman extra abilities add interest to the gameplay. In fact, leave out the pseudoBatman scenario and title and I'm quite content with this.
WHO DO YOU prefer, Batman or Superman? You can probably divide people psychologically by their choice. Superman - heroic, invincible, on the side of light. Batman - a figure of vengeance, lurking in the shadows; a mere mortal and, in the earliest adventures at least, morally ambiguous - more likely to throw a crook off a roof than fly him into jail. I always preferred Batman.
In terms of computer games you ain't got much choice, now that Beyond has discovered that their incarnation of the big blue and red hero won't be mistaken for a bird or a plane - he flies like a turkey. Luckily Batman is 100 per cent hero, even if the computer incarnation does base itself on the tongue-in-cheek TV version. So pull on your underwear over your grey tights, slide down the Batpole and into the Batcave!
As Batman descends you'll notice that he's looking rather portly - obviously too many business lunches with Commissioner Gordon - but he's beautifully animated. As he drops, his cape swirls up and, if you leave him standing too long, he puts his hands on his hips and taps his foot impatiently. The other thing you'll notice is that this is yet another Ultimate look-alike but believe me, it's a good one.
The plot concerns boy wonder Robin, who's committed the boyish blunder of being kidnapped just as he was servicing the Batcraft. First task for our hero is, therefore, to find the disassembled pieces of the wonder vehicle which are scattered around the new look, enlarged Batcave.
Naturally, much of the early stages of the game are concerned with gathering all of those everyday luxuries that make a Batman's life bearable. These include the Batbag, without which items cannot be moved other than by pushing them. Even then they can't be moved from their starting location, and the problems faced in the Batcave are of the type where you have to solve one location before proceeding to the next. So what use is the Batbag? Stay tuned to this same Bat-review and we'll tell you.
Your next useful object is a pair of Jet Batboots. Until he has his high power footwear, Batman won't be able to jump. This means that some doors, situated on ledges, are effectively one way until you can leap back through them. If the sill is still too high you can use your carrying ability to place objects in front of it and climb onto those first.
Remember, kids - Batman can't fly! That's the warning which went out to all of us impressionable youngsters with the TV show, and you'd better take note because there are lots of nasty tricks here that will drop our hero onto deadly spikes or the like. To overcome them you'll need the Bat-thruster - Holy Bat-thruster! - and, of course the Low Gravity Batbelt, which might also help control Batman's spreading girth. The former lets you steer yourself while falling; the latter slows your rate of descent.
An added arcade appeal can be found in the search for energisers. The Batcave is full of these, and Batman must pick them up to ensure a long and fruitful life. There are a wide variety ranging from extra life, which is self explanatory, to energy which gives extra speed. Some shield our hero making him temporarily invulnerable, while others are useful for those 'with one bound he was free' situations - they let him make double-sized Bat-leaps.
All of these, like the objects, are logically placed, so you can be sure that if you find an energiser you'll be grateful in the long run. But beware, they all look the same - like little Batmen. There are also neutralising energisers which immediately cancel out any benefits remaining from other objects.
You start the game with eight lives, but one invaluable and, as far as I know, unique feature of the game is the Batstones. Passing them seems to have little effect until you lose all your lives. Then, when you restart the game you'll be given the option of carrying on at exactly the point, with exactly the same status, as when you collected the stone.
Better still, this effect nests, so that if you have collected two stones your first return will be to the later starting point, but if you can't continue you'll still be able to restart at the earlier point. It's a neat alternative to a Save feature.
Quite how the Batcave got so busy I don't know, but it's alive with the sound of nasties. They're an odd looking bunch but one thing's certain - they're deadly. Bumping into them makes Batman vanish in a puff. Some are relatively stupid, following a set course, but others home in on you and move fast so you have to outwit them. A good technique seems to be moving away from them, then dashing for the exit between them as they make for your previous position.
Be careful though, because several doors drop you onto slippery slopes or conveyor belts which call for immediate action. This one will keep the mappers happy for ages, though the fact that objects appear in a set order means that apart from some routes being safer than others, there is a single, ultimate solution.
Still, once you've solved it all - and that's no easy task - you can always try again at a higher skill level, What the programmers have so cleverly done is to provide two types control sensitivity. On the easier one alignment mistakes are catered for and Batman will swerve through doors. Try the other and you'll need to be much more accurate in steering him.
The other initial options are the inevitable joystick choice, key definition which is extremely comprehensive, and sound which ranges from a wickedly loud rendition of the Batman theme and footsteps, to a silent version with nary a Biff nor a Pow, for late night play.
I can see this being one that will be played into the night too. It's extremely addictive and nicely atmospheric with some clever puzzles, and each challenge conquered leads to another original problem.
Reaching the Bat-thruster is particularly tricky as it lies on the far side of an apparently impassible floor. Once you've solved it though you'll kick yourself for not seeing the answer before, it's so logical.
Yes, you'll definitely want to play this one again and again - because leaving it unsolved will drive you batty.
Programmers: John Ritman, Bernie Drummond
Joystick: Kempston, Fuller, cursor/Interface II
Amstrad, £8.95cs, £14.95dk
Skillfully are we drawn in by this masterpiece of cunning, exploring and puzzling through the delightful isometric 3D screens. How cleverly we are lulled into a false sense of security by these pleasant surroundings. Then suddenly you burst through a door, confident you know what you're doing, and run slap bang into a bat power that takes away what jumps, speed or whatever other powers you did have.
Then of course there are the bat powers located in hard-to-get-at places, which after great effort to get them do absolutely nothing at all.
Most nerve twitching of all is the bit of the batmobile that's hidden from view - it could take you weeks to find it. By which time you'd kill for the solution.
PRICE: £7.95 (Spectrum), £8.95 (Amstrad)
"Holy smoking Spectrums, Batman! They've gone and turned us into a computer game!"
"Don't worry, Robin, old chum. It's probably just all a dastardly plot cooked up by our arch-enemy The Joker! Just close your eyes and perhaps all these people will go away."
Sorry Batman-but you're not going to get much rest once the hoardes of Spectrum and Amstrad gamesters get their hands on a copy of this truly excellent game.
Jon Ritman, of Bear Bovver and Match Day fame, assisted by Bernie Drummond, has come up with a game that's going to leap to the top of the charts with one mighty bound.
Batman makes Superman look like a real wimp thanks to this colourful, fun packed arcade adventure. OK, once you start playing you'll soon realise you are dealing with a game that's destined to become an all time classic.
Let's take a look at the plot - which is worthy of any of the Batman TV shows.
The Caped Crusader has got a problem. Robin has been kidnapped by some dastardly villain - and Batman must rescue the Boy Wonder before he suffers a fate worse than death. Being forced to play First Star's Superman game!
Batman rushes to his recently enlarged Bat-cave only to find that Arthur the butler has been cleaning up and all the special Bat-gear he needs has been scattered around the different rooms of the cave.
He has to get his Bat-hands on his Bat-boots, the Bat-bag, the Bat-thruster and the low-grav Bat-belt.
This is tougher than it sounds because each item is hidden in a different room and protected by a nasty Bat-guardian who seems to have forgotten just who Batman is! in any event these guards aren't going to allow Batman to get his belongings together very easily.
It also appears you need to collect these items in a specific order. One item helps you get another more easily. But we'll leave you to work that out.
Once Batman has collected all these Bat-bits he has to search out some more. Bits of the Bat-craft which he recently serviced and forgot to put back together. Who's a silly little Batboy then?
Once that's done Batman can go off in search of the Boy Wonder! Holy broken joysticks, Batman!
Scattered around the Bat-cave are various energisers which Batman must collect. These give him extra energy, make him move faster, jump higher, give him the power to use a shield, give extra lives etc. But learn to spot the neutralisers which strip Batman of all his hard earned extra powers.
Batman will also come across reincarnation stones scattered around. All you have to do is touch it and it will store the state of the game. This allows you to restart the game at this point from the main menu should you be unlucky enough to lose all your Bat-lives. Useful!
The main menu allows you to select the normal stuff like joysticks or control keys but also things like the volume of the music, sensitivity of the controls you've chosen. Why don't all games offer these useful options?
The graphics are excellent in both versions although the Amstrad game looks much prettier thanks to the machine's bigger range of colours.
The Batman character is - how can we put it -just perfect. He looks just right in his cloak which billows out behind him as he walks and flips up as he jumps about. If you leave him alone too long he looks disgustedly out of the screen at you, puts his hand on his hip and taps his loot impatiently - just like Rockford in Boulderdash.
The only thing missing are the Zap!, Pow!, Kerrrunch! bubbles that appeared whenever Batman battled his enemies with his KO punch. Perhaps Jon will remember that for the next Bat-game.
Fly down to your local Bat-shop and demand a copy of the game. You must be batty if you don't!
Amstrad & Spectrum
Suffering catfish, Batman, we're a computer game. Robin, the boy blunder has been kidnapped. Instead of, like any normal evil guardian saying good riddance and keep the maintenance money rolling in, Batman goes to the rescue - to the Bat Cave.
Unfortunately, the interior designers have been there and the Bat Cave is not what it used to be. You've guessed it, another Knight Lore clone. All the usual problems confront the caped crusader as he attempts to piece together the Batmobile which Robin left in pieces after the last service.
You have 10 lives with which to explore the 150 locations and you will need them. To start, all you can do is walk in four directions. Later, you pick up the Bat Bag, and then the Bat Boots which allow you to carry and jump. Definitely in the Sweevo's World school of tongue-in-cheek graphic adventures, this perhaps will not have you holding your sides the way Sweevo did but it probably has more depth. Some rooms are possible only if you go to them after just picking up a shield Batpill; thus planning and timing become all important.
It is difficult to say where this will finally find a place in the ratings of such games. The variety of objects and hazards, combined with the size and degree of dexterity and problem-solving, will guarantee it a place among the best.
GREAT JUMPING LICENCING DEALS! THE CAPED CRUSADER BURSTS ONTO THE SPECTRUM.
Believe it or not, Ocean have actually finished a game before they've started advertising it (although it's possible that ads may have appeared before you read this review). Not only that, but it's a good one too.
When I heard that Ocean had done a deal to produce a Batman game I was worried that it might end up like the Superman game - highly hyped on the strength of the well known characters, but an awful game. Comic buffs might have been hoping for a game based on the serious Batman strip of the 70s but Ocean have chosen to capture the lighter spirit of the 60s TV series, which is probably a good decision as this is perhaps more suited to a computer game.
The instructions tell you that Robin The Boy Blunder has gone and gotten himself kidnapped, so our hero, The Caped Crusader, has to dash off and rescue him. But before he can race to the rescue Batman has to gather together all his Bat-equipment and assemble the parts of the Batmobile that Robin left lying around the Batcave.
If the Batcave looks at all familiar that's probably because it bears an uncanny resemblance to the space ship in Ultimate's Alien 8. Fortunately this game has enough style of its own to fend oft charges of being a simple rip-off. The Batcave is full of obstacles and deadly creatures which stand between Batman and the completed Batmobile, and the problems that you'll have to solve are challenging enough to keep you occupied for quite a while. As with most games of this type you are able to pick up and carry a number of objects that will help you find your way past obstacles. But unlike some games, here you cannot carry objects from one location to the next which means that often the only things that can help you are just the few objects that you can see in a particular location.
The usual deadly paraphernalia for this type of game is present; conveyor bells that drop you onto piles of spikes, stepping stones that vanish as soon as you touch them, and there are some rooms where only specific objects or the effects of Batpllls will get you through.
Scattered around the cave in order to help you out are the 'Bat-objects', these include Batboots, Batbag, Batbelt and Batthruster. The Batbag is needed before you can carry any other objects, and the Batboots allow you to jump - until you find these you can only walk along the floor - so finding these really has to be your first task. The other two pieces of equipment supplement your jumping powers and allow you to reach certain objects which are otherwise unreachable.
Also hidden in the Batcave are a number of Batpills (shaped like little Batmen) which have a variety of effects; they can boost your energy levels, make you invulnerable, increase your jumping ability and so on, and there are also a number of 'reincarnation stones'. These are interesting little items which provide you with a Save Game facility. At the end of a game the menu allows you to either start a new game or to return to the previous game at the point at which you collected the stone. This is a nice touch, as it avoids the frustration of getting well into a game only to die after making one little mistake, and it also takes less time than reloading a saved game from tape. In fact this is such a handy feature that I forgive the authors for the cumbersome method of defining keyboard controls that they use.
The graphics throughout are excellent. Obviously the 3D style is familiar from a number of games now, but a lot of attention to detail seem to have gone into this one and all the rooms and objects are very clearly drawn. Batman himself is an outrageously cute little sprite who taps his toot if you leave him standing still for more than a few seconds and the way that his cape flaps as he jumps is quite comical.
The playing area seems very large, and after playing the game for ages I've still only located two parts of the Batmobile. I think that mapping this game is essential (anyone out there got a Batmap that they want to send in?). Still, you do get eight lives which allow you to experiment and get into the game without unnecessary frustration. I don't think that Batman will go down as a classic game - the Alien 8 similarities knock off a few points for originality - but it's one of those games that manages to take an established format and add a bit of character that makes it stand out from the crowd.
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