Thursday, December 15, 2022

Batman: Return of the Joker (NES, 1991)

Let's see if this is as ridiculously hard as the similarly-named Game Boy game. It's a similar-controlling game, but very different in terms of level layout, bosses, weapons, etc. So far, it seems like both of them are insanely hard and I don't know why I'm doing this.

I should just quit this site and become a Hot Tub Girl Streamer.

We get more of this guy. You know, at this point, he can go away.

So in this one you get to fire unlimited projectiles instead of super-limited ammo and having to punch everything. There are a few beam types and enemies constantly drop powerups to switch beam types. You've got a double wave beam, a slow homing shot, a spread gun, and a one shot at a time high-powered shot.

Lots of platforming in this one and it doesn't control so hot. The controls are loose and difficult.

Midway through Stage 1-1 I run into invincible enemies that can't be jumped over. I tried all kinds of stuff to blast them and nothing worked. I was perplexed that I was stuck on level 1-1 of an NES game. Then I found that jump-n-shoot right as they launch their attacks actually works, because the face is vulnerable during that one half-second. Once you know that they're easy to take out, but damn, I wonder how many kids just sat on this screen for a while.

You have to move in to bait the attack to begin with, so everything the game is doing tells you to stay away from them...which keeps them invincible. Anyway

1-2 is an auto-scrolling level from hell while some kind of blimp rains bombs down the entire time.

Pausing the game (to go do literally anything else) gives you a password for the current level, which is nice, and the game has infinite continues on top of that. So you never really need to lose progress at least. I also like the "PAUSE!" that looks like an attack sound from a comic.

There are some fairly resilient enemies in this level, and if you just like, ignore one and let them get scrolled off to the left (or can't beat them in time, which happens too), they'll turn around and CHASE AFTER YOU OFFSCREEN. So you'll constantly have shots flying in from the left side that you can't do much about.

At the end is a boss fight. The game shifts into these power meter things where you and the boss both have massive amounts of HP. At this point it's just a slugfest to get the other guy to zero first, which isn't too hard if you go on the offensive early and aggressively.

It took a couple tries (and sends you back to the beginning of 1-2 if you lose so that's great). I was actually surprised when I saw the Stage Clear screen, much like in the Game Boy game. Like, wait, I finished a stage? Are you SURE?

A couple stages later we have this flight stage that looks like a shooter of some sort. You fly around the screen and fire shots. It's like 20 seconds long and not difficult at all, or at least that's about how long I was in it before I paused the game and when I unpaused I was on a new level. I don't know

World 3 contains snow! Always a fan of seeing snow levels. Unless they have ice you can slide around on, which this one only does a little bit.

I hope this isn't another four-world game because otherwise I'll be done with it in a few minutes. So far it's nowhere near as hard as the Game Boy version, apart from that mess of an autoscrolling level.

Look at this! I have to jump on this platform when there's an enemy on the other side that fires a projectile the instant it sees me. Can't scroll the screen over enough to make it appear until I'm ON the platform and immediately getting knocked into the pit unless I'm positioned just right.

The great cave offensive continues with some "spiked ceiling that moves up and down" action. At least it isn't autoscrolling while bullets fly in from all directions or something.

The next boss is another weird slugfest. At least this one doesn't send you back to the beginning of the previous stage. Not sure why the other boss did. A programming error? In any case, the best way to get a win is to use the slide to stay behind these bosses.

4-1 is another autoscrolling level from hell. I hate it, thanks. Here I am about to be pushed into a pit.

I'll say this though, I appreciate that the game at least has unlimited continues. It's kind of relaxing just failing over and over when the game isn't gonna bounce you out to 1-1 after you fail 3 times or something.

World 4 is pretty short (actually they almost all are, the one saving grace of the difficulty). The boss here is this gun pod that does massive unavoidable damage every time it finishes charging up. However, hitting it delays the charge. So you have to basically pummel it while avoiding the side-guns. It's a good idea for a fight.

Level 5-1 is THE WORST LEVEL EVER. I mean this is like a Battletoads level. It's the longest stage in the game and most of it contains water currents that push you around (right into pits).

Your only salvation are these small areas where the water current isn't pushing you and you can actually breathe for a minute.

And if you get hit while sliding and near a pit, forget it, you're going in. Also mines rain down in the water that you can barely see and those'll blow you up. There are two in this shot. Did you see them? Look again. In the vertical waterfall. Yep, there they are.

After many, many, many, many tries, I get to the end. Even emulator tricks don't really help here.

5-2 is another of these short, oddball flight stages.

5-3 is another super-hard level, but at least it's a normal level with no water currents.

...Instead it has these murder-lasers! They increase in fire rate the closer you get to them. I basically just backed up and used the slide rapidly while taking whatever hits I'd unavoidably take.

World 5 boss is this tank fight that autoscrolls to the left... and the floor immediately starts collapsing right from the start so I just die right off the bat.

Good news though, this is one of the boss fights that starts you right back at it. Unlimited continues means it's eventually winnable. This would be catastrophic if it sent you back to 5-1 or something.

In the Game Boy version you win by jumping on the tank and punching away, here you can't do that. You're just running to the left and firing upwards as much as possible while avoiding all the stuff that's falling on you. They might as well have added sharks and lava and a giant chain chomp chasing after you.

A cool thing happened though. After a few tries, I entered a Fugue State where the fight "made sense" and I was keeping up / reacting to everything that happened. Run to the left, jump over obstacles, fire straight up every time the guy pops out of the tank, be quick and he won't lob any grenades.

It's cool what happens when a game gives you unlimited continues and doesn't make you repeat stages. You can actually figure it out. This game is so inconsistent about that though.

Even after all of that you still have the actual world-boss, which is...Joker in some sort of Wily-Mobile. He launches bubbles.

A turbo controller makes the bosses much simpler. Just stand here and turbo-fire and hope the boss HP reaches zero before yours does (it probably will). Bosses have like no i-frames in this game.

The very last stage is 7-1. That's right, world 7 has only one stage. Not sure why. The first part is this really scenic island with overgrown ruins.

But then... we get the unholy abomination that is the second half of 7-1. Why not just do a 7-2? It's the only long stage in the game besides 5-1.

This place is just unholy. All of the spikes here insta-kill Batman if he even gets close to them. The platforms all start moving on their own when you step on them, usually directly towards the nearest spike wall. Precision timing is needed, and ONE MISTAKE sends you back to the beginning of 7-1.

After all of that brutality, we arrive at the final boss. That character portrait doesn't particularly look like Joker. This is another boss you can fell by rapid-firing upward. Though what makes it easier is to take out the four gun pods on the sides, then...

...go to either side and use jumping shots, since the boss' core head can only fire downward.

Once it loses a certain amount of health, Joker appears again and he gains some new attacks. At this point the sides aren't safe, so it's again better to run to the center and fire upwards. I like how they just went full Dr. Wily with this guy.

That's it for this game, credits roll with the Batwing. All I can say is...

This game is hard. Is it harder than the Game Boy version? Hard to say. I think it might be. There's a much harder final boss in the GB version though, and the GB version doesn't have unlimited continues. However there are a few stages in the NES one that are outright ridiculous, Ninja Gaiden 6-2 type ordeals. Stage 5-1 comes to mind in particular. None of the stages in the Game Boy version reach that level.

Weird thing is...right now I'm really enjoying ultra-tough retro games. So this was alright.

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