The Adventures of Batman and Robin (Sega Genesis)
If you were born from the mid 80s to the mid 90s, there is a good chance you probably watched some version of Batman: The Animated Series. Parlaying off the success of (and heavily inspired by) the Tim Burton Batman films, The Animated Series came to life in September of 1992. A second season was ordered and the show was renamed The Adventures of Batman & Robin. The show would continue in various forms for the rest of the decade before giving way to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. But our story begins in 1995.
The OJ Simpson trial was sweeping the nation, AOL was bringing the internet into the homes of average Americans for the first time, the Oklahoma City Bombing killed 168 people, Windows 95 was brand new, Ebay was founded, DVDs were created, the last Calvin and Hobbes strip was released, WCW launched Monday Nitro, and a small group of former Malibu Interactive workers were hard at work on making a shitty Batman game. What time to be alive.
Malibu Comics and ACME Interactive merged to form Malibu Interactive. While Malibu comics had a line of superhero comics known as the Ultraverse, they were probably best known for their licensed properties like Mortal Kombat, Planet of the Apes, and Star Trek. As such, they stuck to mostly making licensed video games as well. Although not for any of properties they had for comic usage. 1993 saw MI release Batman Returns, a side scrolling beat em up in the vein of Double Dragons and Streets of Rage, for Sega consoles. The company was purchased by Marvel in 1994, which led to former employees opening Clockwork Tortoise Studios later that year. They began working on another Batman adaptation.
Instead of being similar to the beat em up style of Batman Returns, the members of Clockwork Tortoise apparently thought they needed to try something new. Before I even get into the game, I'll let you know now that they only released two games: The Adventures of Batman & Robin for Sega Genesis, and The Adventures of Batman & Robin for Sega CD. They were working on X-Women, a continuation of the Sega X-Men series featuring an all woman cast. However, the game was cancelled by Sega in order to focus on the Saturn, and Clockwork Tortoise folded soon after.
But I'm not here to talk about all that mess. I'm here to talk about the mess that is The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Someone, and I'd like to know who, either at Sega or Clockwork Tortoise, had the brilliant idea that a Batman game based on the very popular cartoon airing at the time should eschew the normal fighting/beat em up/platforming elements of Batman games and instead make an absurdly difficult Contra clone starring the Dynamic Duo. You know how the series had that great music by Shirley Walker, inspired by Danny Elfman's score from the Tim Burton films? I imagine this same person came up with the idea to replace it with generic, repetitive, loud, pulsating techno rock. 1994 saw Konami put out a well received beat em up/puzzler adaption of the show for the SNES, which featured the main theme and other music inspired by the show. I'll let you decide on which has the better soundtrack:
The Sega version has a very loose story of Mr. Freeze getting out of Arkham, releasing Joker/Two Face/Mad Hatter, and you having to capture them. You can play as Batman or Robin, and instead of the guns of Contra, you attack with Batarangs. A lot of them. Unlimited ones. Non-stop. This is a shooter. You can technically punch or kick guys, but only if they are right in front of you. Otherwise, you will be throwing Batarangs the entire game. Waiting between throws will charge up your Batarang for a more powerful blow, but you won't get to try it much due to the constant stream of enemies from both sides of the screen. You can get various power ups, including a version of the spreader. And, just like Contra, there is one really shitty power up that you'll want to avoid getting.
Each level is broken down into 2 or 3 sub-levels of interminable length. All end with some kind of boss battle that also last forever. Graphically, the backgrounds look good and suitably Batman-y, but Batman/Robin are tiny and mushy, however the animation is very fluid and there are never any slow downs no matter how crazy the screen gets. And it does get crazy at times. There are a lot of neat 3D effects that are very impressive for the Genesis, and in general, it is hard to complain about the graphics and animation. But that's about it. The loud, repetitive music will make your ears bleed and brain cry after the first stage The gameplay is even worse. It's not enjoyable at all to play. There are plenty of games that are very difficult, but still fun because of the gameplay. Here, you have a game that is extremely difficult (even with Game Genie codes on, it took me longer to finish than just about any 16 bit game I can ever remember playing) yet also completely joyless. There is no thrill of accomplishment, no sense of pride for rising to the occasion to conquer such a formidable foe. By the first part of stage 1, you've had your fill and will want to never touch the game again. When you finally beat the game, you get "cut scenes" set to the same fucking song you've been hearing for the last year, with text you can barely read.
This is terrible. One of the least enjoyable games I've ever played. If you enjoy Batman or TAS at all, I highly recommend you avoid this at all costs. If you want to play a TAS game, I would recommend the SNES version.