Batman Beyond Bad: Return of the Croaker
The Joker's back in town, and he wants to give Gotham a wedgie. A wedgie in the form of mass destruction and casualties, that is. Some 30 odd years into the future, the city of Gotham is still rampant with crime. Evil still lurks in the shadows, hoods and freakshows vie for control, and the clown prince of the city is back for laughs. But Joker isn't the only one back in town - justice still comes dressed as a bat.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, based upon the direct-to-video movie of the same name, is a side-scrolling action game in the same vein as Streets of Rage, the only major difference being that Streets was good and Batman is awful. Like, really awful.
The back of the box says "16 action packed levels," but apparently someone wasn't paying attention on counting day in kindergarten. There are actually 4 levels. Four! The Air and Space Museum, Bruce Wayne Enterprises, Arkham, and the Jolly Jack Toy factory. I don't know what butt they pulled the number 16 out of, but I'm guessing the designers either don't know how to count or every single area within a level was considered a full-fledged level.
I also have an issue with "action packed." If walking up to bad guys and punching them repeatedly until they disappear is the definition of "action packed," then indeed this game could be considered "action packed." It could also be considered "repetetive" and "boring," as well as "stupid" and "dumb."
Control is a bit puzzling. In order to switch from walking to running, you use the R button. Shouldn't walking be handled with the analog stick? Wasn't that the whole point of an analog stick? Between the suit switching and the walk switching, this game was clearly designed with the elusive three-handed gamer in mind.
Batman has an arsenal of different Bat-Suits that you switch into using the directional pad. It sounds kind of cool, but there's basically no point to it. The only suit you really need is the Defense suit. You just use your 'Defense punch' over and over for maximum effectiveness and the damage it dishes out is practically exponential.
Sure, Batman can whip out all sorts of stupid toys like magnetic nunchucks and flying disks, but they're all weak and useless. Since when did Batman use such fruity weapons? Makes me miss the good ol' batarang and exploding gas balls. Seriously.
The cutscenes between levels don't even use the movie footage. Instead, you get redrawn images based on the movie with all the talent and skills of an eight-year old. I can get into some nerdy fanboy details by saying "Joker looks like he has a flat top" or " the one character who only makes animal sounds in the movie talks in the game," but this piece of work already has enough going wrong for it, so why bother?
The background environments are blurry, with low resolution and lack of clarity. They just don't capture the style of the Batman Beyond series. The different characters look shoddy and overly simplistic in design. I'd rather stare at the floor.
To add insult to injury, when Batman gets hurt, his animation is to fall over like a domino. Here you've got a fully equipped destroyer of crime, and he takes punches like an inflatable 'punch-em' clown. This speaks pages for how poorly the rest of the animation fares.
As if the game isn't bad enough, the music will severely offend your ears. Instead of music from the cartoon, you get bad, thematic variations. Weak! This poor-man's composition of music is like ramming screwdrivers into your ears.
And no voices? It's a movie! The voices are already done. Did these designers even get to watch the movie this game's based upon? I know it's a cartridge, but sheesh, how about even pretending to make an effort?
At least the experience is a short one. I easily beat this game in an hour the first time I played. Afterwards, I had an overwhelming urge to use the cartridge as my own Bat-arang. I just didn't want it to come back after I threw it.
While Batman Beyond doesn't quite sink to Superman 64's level of crappy comic cartridges, it comes damn close. It's clearly nothing more than a cash-in for the license. Those Warner Brother's executives already censored and toned down the violence in the movie. What they really should have done was keep this game from coming out. The only possible way to make this Batman game any worse would be to let Joel Shumaker direct it.