Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Batman Returns", SNES, 1993.

Another game of the same name, with more horsepower and a different spin. (A different deadly spin attack? Well, maybe.)

Your windpipe will get a workout when you see what Konami(r) has prepared for you in the Batman(tm) Returns game for Super NES(tm).
But your screams will be drowned out by crunching bones, cracking skulls, shattering glass and other cool CD quality sounds designed to make you cringe.
Because Batman has rapid-fire fists and is a master of flying body slams, spinning judo kicks, double head knocking and other means of maiming. And check out your hero's humungous size. We're talking big!
In seven 3-D movie-like levels, experience the agony of Catwoman's claws, kicks and whip and the ecstasy of pummeling The Penguin and his clan of delinquent clowns, all talented in terrorism.
Inside your cape of fear are Batarangs and test tubes, essential for battling the Tattooed Strongman, the Organ Grinder and the rocket launching Duck Vehicle.
Blow away renegade bikers with the Batmobile loaded with Batdiscs and catapult yourself to safety with your trusty Grappling Hook.
The frigid fiend is chillin' in his way cool lair waiting to put the Caped Crusader on ice. So put on your cowl and put up your dukes. Can't you hear Gotham City screaming for help?!
This ad's design is essentially a perfect marriage between the comic-book origin of the material and the comic-book-readership of the audience. Comics folks like comics! Sell it to them as a comic! And it doesn't matter if the perspective is off or the viewpoint uncertain... comics readers are used to dodginess in that department!

Future references to windpipes getting workouts are to be left on the cutting room floor by notice of the department of good taste and lousy innuendo. Rarely do sound effects take such a forefront role in an ad, and still more rarely yet are you told that they are "designed to make you cringe." But I always cringe when I see "cool CD quality sound" bandied about. Hootie & the Blowfish: cool CD quality sound. FAIL.

The "and other means of maiming" gets a big thumbs up, but the emphasis on his size is again a bit strange -- presumably using a big, detailed character sprite as a selling point where historically it has been a drawback (can't show much on screen at a time; invisible, indefensible attacks often come from off-screen as a consequence).

Uh-oh, more of those regrettable '90s marketing buzzwords! "3-D"! BZZT. "movie-like"! BZZT. There is a reason we're playing 2D video games, and it's not because we want to watch a 3D movie. (If we did, we could play Tempest or S.T.U.N. Runner.) Points for the "agony and the ecstasy" reference, flying way over the comic readers' heads. This copywriter had some fun, between snorts of blow, and isn't afraid to wave his education around. "Cape of fear" is a bit awkward, perhaps a play off of contemporary suspense movie "Cape Fear"? Even this whizkid can't do much with "rocket launching Duck Vehicle." Punch it up a bit, maybe? Nothing can really ice that cake. He was spent after "his clan of delinquent clowns, all talented in terrorism", understandably.

Then the '90s drags the ad back, screaming, into Hades, with "chillin' in his way cool lair". We're talking the Penguin here, not Mr. Freeze, and certainly not Vanilla Ice. Also, the obligatory shopping list of weapons and vehicles is a big drag factor on the prose's flow of otherwise virtuosity.

But the ad is, by weight, more win than fail. I like the way the cartridge's slogan also gets included by virtue of printing the whole box art also. Other points I could comment on but won't! What a pleasure, to have a surplus of material.

(Hey, my blog has contributed to further scholarship! Right on!)