Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988)
ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, PC
We present to you the second part of our ongoing series, "The History of Batman in Video Games." Batman seemed to see a measure of success with his previous foray. How does Batman: The Caped Crusader fare? Persist dear reader ... First of all though, I will mention that my playthrough was for the Commodore 64 version. From my understanding, all the versions are fairly similar, save for some graphical differences.
The objective in Batman: The Caped Crusader is another simple one. You have to thwart the evil plans of The Penguin and the Joker. This is notable in that there were two adventures, each with it's own disc. The environments varied as did some items and what you used them for, but the main gameplay remained the same.
In both scenarios, you begin in the Batcave and need to discover the items needed to complete your mission. Some tasks are not necessary to do, save for getting 100% completion. As an example; in The Penguin mission, you begin in the cave and see that the Batcomputer is broken. You can search the rest of the cave to find various items such as: tools, a disk and a lightbulb? You can then return to the machine and use the tools in your inventory to fix the computer. You can then insert the disk! Does it help your mission? No, but completionists will want to try and conquer these tasks.
You can receive various hints when you walk by areas of importance. The clue will pop up in the corner of the screen like a story box from a comic. This leads me to the most appealing feature of this game; the comic book styling. You see, when you walk into a different room another layer or panel appears on top of the previous one. The effect is great and makes you feel as if you are in a comic book. Yet, it can be difficult to enjoy this when the controls are so horribly implemented.
A joystick is used for this endeavor but doesn't work very well. You can move left and right and point the joystick in any direction to attack where you are pointing. This is a moot point though since attacking is rather useless. The worst part though is that in order to pick up items you need to point the joystick down and press the button. This leads to many problems, as if you are not in the necessary spot to pick up said items; you will simply bring up the inventory screen. Yes they are both accomplished the same way!
The Joker playthrough ...
The sound is not as unfortunate as a catchy tune accompanies your adventures, but it comes with a downside. You never get to hear the song in full as it resets every time you pick up an item. Bummer. This is a great 8-bit melody that you should check out if possible! The sounds effects are very pronounced with jingles playing every time you pick an item and equip it; or to notify you that something can't be used just yet. Not pretty but it gets the job done.
The enemies are uninspired and at times nonsensical. The Penguin adventure offers up suited thugs, flying airplanes and bats that drop guano on you. Seriously? The Joker has the usual clown motif going for it. These things will frustrate you as you will never be able to hit everything on the screen, even with your Batarang equipped. Frustrating. Again though, it is better to just try and run if possible.
Overall, this game turned out to be a disappointment. Even if you do enjoy the mechanics presented, each adventure lasts at most ten minutes. Why you ask? Well, that is the time limit! In fact; unless you memorize which items you need and master the dreadful controls, you won't get very far. While there are some bright spots in this adventure, such as the graphical style and soundtrack; nothing else really stands out. Play this one only if you are a Batmaniac friends!
*Special Thanks to Why So Serious? from the Batman: Arkham Asylum Forums!*