The Games Of Christmas: Batman Returns (Super Nintendo)

Batman Returns 2

We’re taking a look at some of the best games with Christmas themes, just in time for the holiday, and we’ve got a selection of a few favorites that you’re sure to love – even if you’re not playing them today or tomorrow.

First up in this little sub-series is Batman Returns, the video game adaptation of the Tim Burton film featuring Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito. Many people consider this to be the definitive “game-to-movie” adaptation, despite games also being released for the NES, Sega Genesis, Atari Lynx, Sega CD and Sega Game Gear.

The game was produced by Konami and released in 1993, nearly one year after the film initially came to theaters. It’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up in the nature of Final Fight, taking place across seven stages. In each stage, Batman finds himself against members of the Red Triangle Circus Gang, including strongmen, fire breathers, bikers and other miscellaneous soldiers. He also gets into boss battles with characters like the Penguin and Catwoman.

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The game does mix up some interesting stages in-between, including side scrolling segments where he uses his grappling hook to get through perilous parts of the stage, as well as a Batmobile stage, where he shoots down enemies before taking on the Penguin’s campaign van, which is loaded with weaponry.

The reason that Batman Returns on the SNES outshines the other versions is its quality. The graphics are terrific, recapturing the nature of Burton’s film in each part of the design, and the character animations are spot-on, too. Danny Elfman’s musical score is almost perfectly recreated here as well, with tunes that match up almost side-by-side with the film.

But most importantly, Batman Returns is simply fun to play. The beat-em-up tactics are excellent, as they give the Caped Crusader a number of ways to beat up thugs, whether it’s throwing them into windows or pipes, bashing their heads together (as Keaton’s character does in the film), or delivering combo attacks to dispatch of them. He can also unleash a special attack, throwing a test tube filled with liquid on the ground, which eradicates all enemies within the vicinity (or does damage to a much tougher boss).

Batman Returns

The other versions of the game are okay, but if you really want a Batman Returns product that matches the theme and moodiness of the film, it gets no better than the SNES version. After you’re done watching it this holiday season (and we know many of you are), be sure to dig into this retro treat.