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Video Game / Batman (Sunsoft)

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A series of Licensed Games published by Sunsoft, pitting Batman, the Caped Crusader of Gotham City, against his nemesis, the Joker.

Sunsoft developed six distinct games, listed here in order of release:

Of these six games, all but one were Platform Games; the Japan-exclusive PC Engine game turned into a Maze Game instead. The first four were all based on the contemporary Batman movie (which was independently adapted into a computer game by Ocean Software and an Arcade Game by Atari Games). All six games featured Batman's trademark Batarangs as either a primary or alternate weapon. (In Return of the Joker, Batman uncharacteristically carried a gun as his primary weapon.)


The NES version of Return of the Joker (whose graphics were advertised "as hot as 16-bit") was also ported to 16-bit consoles, with the title altered to Batman: Revenge of the Joker (presumably to avoid confusion with Batman Returns). Sunsoft outsourced both of these ports to American studios: the Sega Genesis version, released in 1992, was developed by Ringler Studios, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System version, only a prototype of which was produced, was developed by ICOM Simulations.


Tropes appearing in these games:

  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Batman directly kills the Joker in the end of the 1989 video game, throwing him off the tower.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Batman: Return of the Joker for NES has auto-scrolling in Stages 1-2 (Roof Hopping while being bombarded by an airship), 4-1 (Traintop Battle) and 6-2 (tank battle). The Lift of Doom areas are also inescapable until the lift stops rising, either.
  • Batter Up!: The Game Boy version of Batman: Return of the Joker has a boss named Foul Ball who attacks by spinning a baseball bat around.
  • Boring, but Practical: On the NES version, both the default fists and the batarang weapon. It is very easy to ignore the batarang as a less effective weapon due to only using 1 ammo (out of 99) and low range, while the other weapons may seemingly appear to be Too Awesome to Use. However, all damage inflicted by Batman all do the same damage and same stun time to certain enemies. The batarang hits multiple times, thus doing more continuous damage than the other 2 weapons per shot. The fists can he rapidly used.
    • The fists and the batarang are most effective against the final 2 bosses. Using the batarang against Firebug is the most effective way to beat him because of his very high health; you may run out of ammo with the other 2 weapons. The Joker is best fought close range due to his long gunshot that abnormally does 3 damage not hitting you up close.
  • C-List Fodder: In the NES game the Joker is the only A-list member of Batman's Rogues Gallery to appear, with minor villains from the comics serving as other bosses and minions. Even then, they don't resemble their comic counterparts, such as KGBeast going from resembling a gimp to looking like a generic ninja and Killer Moth now wearing Power Armor.
  • Character Portrait: Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES shows small character portraits of Batman and the boss in every boss stage.
  • Clock Tower: Stage 5-1 of Batman for the NES, with lots of spinning gears.
  • Crate Expectations: In Return of the Joker for the NES, you see your first crate as soon as you enter the first level. Crates in that game contain powerups.
  • Difficulty Spike: Stage 4-2 in the Game Boy game, which is about an order of magnitude more difficult than the rest of the (otherwise easy) game. It's a long, torturous auto-scrolling stage filled to the prim with bottomless pits, precision platforming, and cannons with homing projectiles that can kill Batman in just a few hits.
  • Down the Drain: Batman for the NES's Stages 3-1 and 3-2 (Underground Conduits I and II), part of Gotham City's Absurdly Spacious Sewer system.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In Batman for the Sega Genesis, the chandeliers in Flugelheim Museum serve as Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom.
  • Glass Cannon: Surprisingly, the Joker in the Genesis version. He can kill you in 2 to 4 hits, but has less hit points than the other bosses.
  • Golden Super Mode: In Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES, Batman's Temporary Invincibility power causes his sprite to become golden.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Featured in Batman for the Sega Genesis and Return of the Joker for the Game Boy.
  • The Lava Caves of New York: In Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES, part of stage 3-2 involves sailing across a lava pit on a small piece of land. This stage is supposed to be some underground mine in or near Gotham City.
  • Level 1 Music Represents: The theme song to the Streets of Gotham (titled "Streets of Desolation") is by far the best known track in the first game, both because of its sheer coolness and the fact that the Nintendo Hard nature of the game means you'll be hearing it the most.
  • Lift of Doom: Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES had this in Stage 4-2, unusually incorporating conveyor belts into the lift platforms.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything / Power Glows : Right before a boss fight in Batman: Return of the Joker, Batman calls upon lightning to strike and empower him. He briefly glows gold as the lightning hits.
  • Market-Based Title: The NES version of Return of the Joker was released in Japan as Dynamite Batman.
  • Nintendo Hard: Both of the games, but Return of the Joker is the tougher one.
  • Orbiting Particle Shield: In Batman for the Game Boy, Batman can obtain up to four Batwings to circle around him and take out nearby enemies. He will lose them first if he takes hits.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: In the original NES game, The Joker is twice as tall as Batman and can summon lightning strikes. His Magnum fires a large but slow bullet, though. In Return Of The Joker he is using a large machine.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: In the ending Batman for the NES, Batman, just before directly throws Joker off the cathedral roof to his death, says to him:
    "I know you murdered my parents. Now you will dance with the devil in the pale moonlight!"
  • Suddenly Blonde: In Batman for the NES, the cutscenes show a black-garbed Batman (as in the film), but the actual sprite during gameplay is a blue and purple Batsuit (largely for convenience's sake, since NES palettes usually reserved black as a background color).
  • Title: The Adaptation: The games based on the 1989 Batman movie were often packaged as Batman: The Video Game.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level:
    • The "Gotham City Street" stage in Batman for the Sega Genesis is nominally a Batmobile driving level, but it actually plays as a horizontal shooter. The later sky stage with the Batwing (also featured in the Game Boy version) is a more normally styled example, aside from the Monster Clown inflatables.
    • Batman: Return of the Joker for the NES also has two shooter stages (2-2 and 5-2) where Batman flies down horizontal tunnels in a Jet Pack.
    • Batman for Game Boy has two Batwing stages.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The Joker survived his death at the NES Batman game, to become the Big Bad in Return of the Joker. Note that both Joker surviving AND Batman directly throwing the Joker out of the cathedral at the end of the first game violates movie canon.
    • The prototype version of Batman for NES has Batman refraining from murder (How justified it may be) and simply decks the Joker, leaving him alive for a sequel.
  • Video Game Sliding: In Batman: Return of the Joker, Batman has a sliding move that's useful mostly for dodging projectiles. It's one of his quicker moves, but there's very little in the game that demands its use.
  • Wall Jump: Featured in the first NES game and Return of the Joker for the Game Boy.


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