Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Speccy Capers: Batman The Movie (Ocean, 1989)

The DC character of Batman was the creation of Bob Kane in May 1939, first appearing in Detective Stories #27, before going on to starring in his own comic, along with his sidekick Robin, in April 1940. He first appeared on our screens in the 60's, in a camp TV series of the same name staring Adam West and Burt Ward as the dynamic duo. But, when Warner Bros. released the movie Batman in 1989, the movie was a critical and commercial success, earning millions at the box office. Meanwhile, in sunny old Manchester, a little software house called Ocean eyed up the prospect of developing the smash hit movie into a smash hit game. And, with a name like Batman, what can go wrong?

Nothing, actually, as it turned out to be bloody good. You start off at the Axis Chemical Factory, fighting off the henchmen of Jack Napier, second in command of Carl Grissom. You climb ladders, throw baterangs at the henchmen and use your bat-rope to ascend to levels that are not accessible by ladder. As well as bad guys, there are acid drops to dodge and steam vents to avoid. Of course, being an Ocean game, there is a time limit and you must try to get to the end and face off against the evil Napier before then. At the bottom, as well as the timer, there is a face of Batman, which represents your energy. As you take hits, the face will turn into that of The Joker, and you'll lose a life. Once you've taken care of Napier, it's off to the next level, which sees you driving the Batmobile and trying to reach the Batcave. As you drive, you must use the Batrope on the car to turn sharp corners, all whilst trying to avoid The Joker's henchmen. Once you've found the cave, the next level is a puzzle which sees you working out which products have The Joker's deadly Smilex poison inside, again all within a time limit. Afterwards, you fly the Batplane, and have to cut the lines to balloons that are filled with the deadly Smilex gas, that they do not give off the gas on the crowd below. Then, it's off to Gotham Cathedral, and the final showdown with The Joker.

Ocean should have been commended for this. Alongside Chase HQ, The Untouchables and Robocop, this is one of the best looking Spectrum version licensed games from the software house I've seen. The status bar at the bottom of the screen is just awesome, with a good replica of the Batbelt adorning the box around the screen. The idea of Batman's face as the energy bar that slowly turns to the face of The Joker was a bloody good touch. The main graphics of the levels, the characters themselves and the Batmobile in general are all of the high quality you'd get from the later Ocean games. Batman's cape even flaps behind him when you drop from one level to the next. Also about the levels, they are fiendishly designed, with many dead ends to baffle you.

The music plays well from the old 128K machine, while the sound effects are merely just 'puut' when you throw a batarang, but thats no bad thing when the music is this good.

All in all, much better than Batman Returns on the Amiga by Denton Designs. It looks better, plays better and sounds better. Bravo!


  1. Nice review! This had just been released very shortly before I got my Speccy, so was one of the first full-price games I acquired (after Myth). I did a review last year of it (, seems we both like the Ocean style of Movie Licence!

  2. When they get it right, they do it with style. When they cock it up, they also do that with style lol