Mean Machines Sega

Batman Returns
By Sega
Sega Mega Drive (EU Version)

Published in Mean Machines Sega #3

Batman Returns

The dark and sinister streets of Gotham City lay covered in snow as the residents prepare for a peaceful Christmas and the election of a new Mayor. In the sewers, however, the dastardly Penguin prepares his diabolical plan to win the hearts and votes of the city's people through blackmail, lies and framing the noble Batman for the murder of the Christmas Ice Princess. The dirty scoundrel!

In the sequel to Sega's first Batman game, the heroic Dark Knight makes it his responsibility to ensure the evil Penguin's scheme fails spectacularly. You take control of Batman as he fights his way through the metropolis, all the time being challenged by the Penguin's henchmen and fiendish inventions. This awesome task is a rigorous test of all Batman's strength and cunning, especially when he is confronted by the mysterious Catwoman as she brings her whip and wit to flog him down to earth.

Batman returns to a much larger, more sinister Gotham City than ever before, facing a relentless assault which he must overcome if he is to pick off the Penguin for good. To the Batmobile, let's go!


Batman Returns

Batman Returns is the follow up to last year's Batman game. It is also based upon the atmospheric movie directed by Tim Burton.

How To Play

Join Batman in seven enormous platform-laden levels. The Dark Knight has just three lives, three continues and his utility belt to complete his task.

Wings, Don't Fail Me Now

In the first Megadrive Batman game the Dark Knight was able to somersault in mid-leap to gain extra distance. Sadly, he has lost his ability in the sequel. However, the good news is that it has been replaced by an even better feature. Now, when Batman springs from a great height, he is able to spread his cape and glide to the relative safety of difficult-to-reach levels and platforms. Batman makes good use of this in the crumbling cathedral level, gliding gleefully over the beds of deadly spikes.


Batman Returns

Without his utility belt Batman is just your average psycho-millionaire wearing rubber armour and a cape. However, with all his special weapons stowed in his utility belt, Batman is a force to be reckoned with. The Caped Crusader has five items from which to choose:

  1. Batarang: There are mini bat-shaped hand-launched projectiles that return to Batman once thrown.
  2. Bat Swarm: Batman opens his cape and out come a swarm of bats that attack his aggressors. Just where they shelter is anyone's guess!
  3. Tazer: A device used by Batman to electrocute his foes. It fires a highly-charged bolt and proves extremely useful. Charming.
  4. Smoke Bomb: The smoke bomb temporarily paralyses the oncoming enemy.
  5. Special Batarang: This is a larger, more powerful version of the Batarang which homes in on every enemy on-screen then wipes 'em all out!

Penguin Performances

Obviously the Penguin is very perturbed by the presence of Batman. How on earth can be fulfil his twisted dreams when there's the threat of so much resistance? For this reason Penguin makes a personal appearance at the end of every act in the game in an attempt to defeat his darkness-loving nemesis. The Penguin rages beneath his umbrella throwing knives, propeller blades and gaseous ice to skewer, chop or freeze our hooded hero into submission.

Batty, Batty

Getting Batman from A to B isn't as straightforward as you may wish in his latest crime-busting assignment. There are many hidden items strewn about the cityscape, some that are quite obvious but usually only obtainable by clever use of Batman's grappling gear, accessed through deft manipulation of the C button.

Batman Returns

With this item, Batman is able to swing his rubber pants to places otherwise unreachable. The heroic bat-like one's grappling skills are indispensable when it comes to scaling the dizzying heights of Gotham City's skyscrapers in his pursuit of those hard-to-reach bonus items, and the elusive Penguin of course.

Options Screen

  1. Sound Test: Listen to every tune in the game! Cor!
  2. Joypad Changes: Define the function of each button.
  3. Players: Change the amount of lives you have to either three, five or seven per credit.


Despite its shortcomings, Batman Returns is an admirable follow-up to the success of the first game featuring the Caped Crusader. The gameplay is much tougher than before and, despite lacking the variety of the original, presents a far greater challenge.

All the sprites are skillfully drawn and are huge! Batman himself is rendered well and mirrors the tough-guy image portrayed in the film quite convincingly, right down to the awkward, suit restricted gait of Michael Keaton.

Batman Returns

Most of the Dark Knight's foes are similarly well-executed and cunning in their attack patterns. I enjoyed the feature that allows Batman to use his grappling hook to swing about the platforms, I also found it pleasing to find that there is often more than one way to progress through a level.

The bad news has to be that the game doesn't play very well, which is a shame. Control of Batman is clunky and unresponsive at times which tends to spoil the fun.

There have been mixed reactions to the choice of colour scheme used by Sega to recreate the dark nature of the film. I rather like it, although I think that more attention to detail in some of the backgrounds could have helped make things more interesting.

Batman Returns

However, the huge size of the game and the amount of skill that is required to progress make Batman a worthwhile purchase. If you are willing to put up with the unresponsive controls, that is.


Gasp at the top-quality graphics, revel in the atmospheric effects and cream yourselves over the sparkling originality... dream on because although Batman Returns is perfectly adequate in the looks, sounds and playability stakes, its format, gameplay and challenge factors are about as new as a very old thing indeed.

Sega bagged themselves a very tasty licence in this one, and really should have done a lot more with it. Leaping from platform to platform, facing the forces of evil, rescuing maidens in distress and wasting baddies isn't exactly a new idea and, although platform novices might find a smidgen of fun from this one, veterans will soon find it dull and, quite frankly, would be bats to buty it.


Batman Returns

Presentation 87%
P. The animated introduction screen sets the scene and the intermission screens sustain the atmosphere of the game.
N. Everything is very sombre and, therefore, not very attractive.

Graphics 80%
P. Large sprites an the occasional tremendous-looking boss.
N. Very dull backdrops and poor animation of the main sprites.

Sound 80%
P. The tunes do a nice job of promoting the game's atmosphere.
N. The music stutters noticeably at various points, and the sound effects from bad to worse.

Batman Returns

Playability 74%
P. Slightly above average platform formula stuff.
N. Batman's refusal to respond to certain requests is very annoying.

Lastability 80%
P. This game is hee-uge! Add to that the high level of difficulty and you have a winner in the lastability stakes...
N. ...But frustration impairs the lastability a great deal.

Overall 77%
A Gothic, visual treat with a distinctive graphic style that suffers at the hands of frustrating gameplay!