(Review archived from January 17, 2018)
The first thing I need to make clear is that I’m completely biased in my views regarding Batman: The Animated Series. For me this version of Batman remains the definitive onscreen version of the character and that includes cinematic adaptations. The Animated Series gave Batman fans something to hold onto during those years when the quality of the Batman franchise was taking a nose dive in theaters (thanks a lot, Schumacher!). The next thing I should make clear is that I’m also pretty biased regarding The Adventures of Batman & Robin game released for SNES in 1994. It’s a game I associate with a pivotal time in my life. I had moved into my first apartment, was barely scraping by, and I was still playing 8/16-bit games when most of the world had decisively moved on to Playstation and N64. I bought The Adventures of Batman & Robin for a mere pittance (less than $5 IIRC), and was delighted by its quality and attention to detail. I spent a bunch of time with this game, to the point where I was attempting no damage runs of the entire game. Needless to say I have a lot of nostalgia attached to this one, though I’d not played it in years. So it was not without some trepidation that I donned the tights and took to the streets of Gotham City once again. Would the game hold up after all these years? Was my nostalgia misplaced?
Well, I’m happy to say that the game still mostly holds up. The first thing you’ll notice is that the graphics are a beautiful 16-bit conversion of The Animated Series. The bold iconic style of animation is well depicted here both in terms of backgrounds and characters. Speaking of characters, the Batman cast is also well represented with regards to both the legendary rogue’s gallery and supporting cast. It’s probably worth mentioning that Robin only makes a couple of minor appearances in the game, and never as a playable character. So in that regard the title is a bit misleading; really these are The Adventures of Batman & … Okay Just Batman. I need to make special mention of the music though, because while it’s all music from the TV show, it’s phenomenally well done here. Prepare to be humming the Batman theme for days after playing this game. In terms of gameplay it’s a game that deftly splits the difference between side scrolling platformer and single plane beat em’ up. The in-game fighting feels good, sometimes bordering on a little stiff, but always very solid. The move set carries a certain satisfying weight and reciprocal impact. Nearly every enemy in this game is very pattern based. From the bosses to the foot soldiers once you identify their patterns you can almost walk right through the entire game.
The platforming is perhaps not quite as well executed as the fighting aspects but it’s certainly serviceable. Your jumps can feel a bit weak and lack dynamism when compared against the solid feel of your fighting moves. The wall jumping is well executed though and always fun to pull off. Where things falter a bit is during segments that require you to use the grappling hook in similar fashion to Bionic Commando. Once you get the knack for this, it’s not too bad, but it can definitely feel frustrating until you do. Another aspect where the game falters is during the single driving level, in which you’re tasked with chasing Two-Face in the Batmobile. I’m not the biggest fan of overhead driving games in the first place (though there are some exceptions), but here the driving just feels incredibly stiff. You can drive in a straight line or you can drive diagonally, but there’s no smooth transition in between. It just feels very herky jerky. Driving the Batmobile should feel exhilarating! But here it feels like the developers were just checking off a box that said “game must include Batmobile driving segment”. It’s a moment of incongruity in an otherwise very solid game.
So hopefully I managed to keep my thoughts here fairly objective. The Adventures of Batman and Robin is still one of my favorite games on SNES though I think it qualifies more as a ‘hidden gem’ than ‘one of the all-time greats’. Still if you’re a retro-gaming Batman fan I would say that this one is highly worth your time. It remains one of the best old-school Batman games out there.