Frigid winter winds swept over an already chilled Gotham City. Random street crimes were running at an all-time high, despite the holidays. Down below, in the city's frozen sewers, Oswald Cobblepot, known as The Penguin, planned more mayhem and schemed the takeover of the frightened metropolis. His loyal army of missile-packing Penguin Commandos and the bizarre Red Triangle Circus Gang are energized by the evil genius of the web-footed orphan. A desperate call to Batman goes up.
Partner with Batman to salvage Gotham City from The Penguin's cold-hearted plot. Guide him in swift, life-like moves from dark alleys to rooftops in vivid scenes based on the hit movie, "Batman Returns." Control his combat style, and help conduct relentless interrogations of The Penguin's many allies. Use the Batcave computer to input clues, analyze evidence, and review enemy bios. You're in charge of weapons too. Stock Batman's Utility belt with enough heat to match the diverse fighting styles of The Penguin and his cold-blooded, sewer-dwelling minions. Gotham City is in trouble.
~ from the back of the box
Tim Burton's second Batman movie got its fair amount of video game adaptations, with a variety of console-based versions already covered in the Batman vs Superman Collection. There was one anomaly amongst the platformers and beat-em-ups that was not featured there; the PC game. Published by Konami in 1992, Batman Returns running on DOS is - wait for it - an adventure game!
The investigative nature of the World's Greatest Detective (as he is so often described in the comics) suits the puzzle-solving point-and-click playstyle of such a game. Nevertheless, but it's still a pleasant surprise to see it realised in something other than an educational title made for kids. Consider me intrigued.
Visually, the art style is very nice, with an aesthetic that is very much in keeping with the pulpy, gothic vibe of the film. There are no sound effects, but the midi music that plays throughout is a nice enough rendition of Danny Elman's main theme. When we get into the gameplay, though, it becomes another matter.
Essentially, playing the thing goes like this; pack your utility belt with weapons in the Batcave. Visit every location you can on your map and pick up anything that isn't tied down. Go back to the Batcave to examine what you picked up, then end your day. Do this for 9 short days and you're done.
Well, that's not entirely true. Depending on what you do in those given days, you could get one of the many 'bad' endings which suddenly pop up without explanation or warning. You won't know it, but the most likely place you screwed up is the combat.
There are a few moments where you have to fight The Penguin and/or his circus-themed henchmen but it's handled in a very strange way. You don't control Batman directly, but guide him with a series of button presses. He can attack in an 'easy', 'normal' or 'fierce' fashion (always go with fierce) and a computer will control the on-screen action. If it appears to end in a stalemate with neither party getting in a hit, use one of the Batarangs to incapacitate them. The Caped Crusader will only use them when he's good and ready, so be prepared to watch seconds - maybe even minutes - of AI-controlled fight scenes. When they're tied up, you can now interrogate them with a single, solitary question! Choose wisely. The fate of Gotham depends on it!
There is also a time mechanic that goes beyond the day-by-day structure of the plot. Some events will only happen at a certain time, which you can wait around for but by pressing ESC and entering the main menu screen, you can also advance the clock manually an hour at a time. You'll just have to pay attention to conversations and clues to know where you should be and when.
Despite the inviting visuals and the promise of a thrilling Bat-venture, Batman Returns left me slightly cold - and that's not because of the winter city setting. I wanted dialogue trees, inventory puzzles... Catwoman. She barely appears at all by the way. As such, I can't really recommend this rather hollow experience unless you really are a Bat-freak.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Tested on and Windows 10.
File Size: 9.13 Mb. Install Size: 20.6 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Batman Returns (the game) is © Konami
Batman Returns (the movie) is © Warner Bros
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me