Saturday, 28 May 2011

Batman (ZX Spectrum)

Batman ZX Spectrum loading screen
It took five minutes to load this, so I hope you appreciate the incredible sacrifices I make.

I have no idea why Batman is carrying a shield though. We're supposed to be collecting pieces of the broken Batmobile, so I suppose it could be a hubcap.

Please select your controls, YOU HAVE ONLY ONE CHANCE, GET IT RIGHT. Screw this up and it's five more minutes of loading.

Even the sound options are a challenge. How would anyone have a clue what this meant without looking at the manual? (Nasty = all sounds, Useful = just the useful sounds, Late at night = silence).

Incidentally I love the little impatient Batman sprite tapping his foot on the top of the menu screen.

Alright, alright, keep your utility belt on mate! I'm nearly done here.

Finally some music. A short bit of the 60's TV series theme.

These are the pieces of the Batmobile I need to collect to finish the game, without which I cannot possibly continue my career as Batman and would have to retire.

Though I'm struggling to figure out how those parts could possibly combine to make a Batmobile. Maybe it's a Bat-hovercraft.

Hey, we're in the Batcave! Well this should be easy enough then. I'll almost certainly be entirely safe in my secret super-secure sanctuary.

The music has stopped again, but Batman's footsteps make a weird little tune when he walks. There's two doors, so I'll go through the top one first.

Okay I just fell down a step and I can't get back up to the door. Also there are monsters bouncing around down here. How'd these assholes get into my Batcave?

I hope they're not wandering around upstairs in Wayne Manor too, I'd hate to run into these at night when I'm going to the bathroom.

One hit instant kill, and now I have 7 lives. Fortunately I reappear in the room I died in.

Elephant foot blocks? Why the hell does Batman have these lying around in the Batcave? Trophies from when he took down an evil elephant themed super-criminal?

Well pushing them around doesn't seem to have much point, so I'll go check out the next room.

I don't know what the hell that thing is, but he's patrolling in front of my bag. I know Batman doesn't generally carry a bag, but I'm pretty sure I'll need it because I've got a picture of it on the interface.

Random bouncing enemies are a pain in the ass to dodge, but this guy's no trouble. The bat-bag is mine.

Crap. More random bouncing enemies. That thing is a checkpoint so I should probably grab it. It's not like I can backtrack anyway, the door is too high.

Well I didn't see THAT coming.

Oh, damn, a conveyor belt! And it's carrying me over into that enemy. If I fall off the end of the conveyor belt, I'll actually be trapped with no way back up. Batman can't jump unless he's got special jumping boots... like those ones over on the right in fact.

Disappearing floor panels, that's kind of an asshole thing to put in a game. There wasn't even any visual clues that it was going to break.

And the next panel is a SECRET CONVEYOR BELT, pushing me into the enemy. Thanks for that, game.

You know it wouldn't be so bad if I had infinite lives to waste on mastering each room, but I've only got 8 of them! Well, 2 now.

YES! I have finally collected the jump boots. To test them out, I press the jump key and Batman immediately flings himself forward off the platform and into the deadly instant death spikes.

One life left.

To get through this room I just need to follow the dogs around to the next door. The hard part is looking at their creepy faces.

Huh, what the fuck? I walk out the door and immediately land on a disguised conveyor belt pushing me into the spikes!

Okay, I can get out of this. I just need to somehow shift over to those platforms on my right...

009 rooms. Well, that's encouraging.

Okay I restarted at the checkpoint, grabbed the boots again without much drama, got around the spike pit, and now I've been defeated by a door. He just doesn't want to jump high enough.

It's a shame I can't just push that other elephant block on top somehow, or pick it up, but pressing the button next to it does nothing.

Oh. I have to stand ON TOP of blocks to pick them up.

Well this seems pretty simple. I just need to push the ball against the brick wall leading to the jetpack and use it as a platform.

Huh, how did I not make that jump? What did I do wrong?

Okay, I've figured it out. Batman can only jump HALF A SQUARE.

I have to be standing so that I'm supported entirely by the last pixel of my cape before I can jump to the next platform.

More disappearing platforms? How the hell am I supposed to make a series of pixel perfect jumps across a row of instantly vanishing blocks?

It be nice if I could just fly across with that jetpack I spent so long trying to grab, but apparently it's not used for flying.

Well I got across in the end, but It cost me all my lives.

Fortunately I've just run into an extra life. Oh, no, actually it's just a power up to make me run faster for a bit. Great.

A teapot and two... other things, and two moving lifts. Hmm, I'll go investigate the top lift first.

Well that was pointless. It seems that the second lift is going to take me where I need to be though. I just need to stack the items and jump onto the conveyor belt to get there.

Son of a BITCH! Another disappearing block!

Ew. I miss the days when I'd be fighting the Riddler or the Joker or someone halfway sensible, not mutant heads with buck-teeth and horns. I got killed here again so it seems like a good point to stop playing


This is a real pain in the ass to play, but I'm not sure I can call this a badly designed game. Because I get the feeling it was meant for gamers who like their games to be unfair. Not just challenging, but absolutely cruel. This is the kind of game where'd you'd draw out maps, memorise the traps through trial and error, and slowly master each piece at a time.

I on the other hand, am going to move onto the next game.

4 comments:

  1. Had it on my Speccy back in the day. There were several similar games, such as Alien 8, Head Over Heels or the Sabre Man series. Of them all, Batman was the most tolerable to me, I think... but the jumping controls are really ass, just as they were in other such games. The best feature by far is that when you leave Batman still for a couple of minutes, he starts looking at you and tapping his foot in impatience. Sooo cute!

    Just for giggles, there's a PC remake by Retrospec: http://retrospec.sgn.net/game/batman
    Not much to say, but the pixelwork is solid.

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    Replies
    1. If I have one regret about this post, it's that I can't go back and edit in that animation of Batman tapping his foot impatiently. Actually, I can't think of a reason why I can't just do that...

      I might actually give that PC remake a try at some point too. Not for the site I mean, purely for my own personal torment.

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  2. "I have no idea why Batman is carrying a shield though" - I think it's supposed to be a manhole cover. The idea is that you're looking up at him as he's about to explore underground.

    The follow-up, Head Over Heels, was similar but polished and much more fun to play.

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  3. This game was always too hard for me. I do recall enjoying the Caped Crusader game though, it had some nice presentation and I even beat the first part (a rarity in the ZX kick-you-in-the-face-until-you-reset difficulty days).

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