“Batman Returns” Me a Little Bit to the Past

And well, yesterday’s morning found everyone watching some sort of superhero movie on cable, especially since it was the first weekend after classes resumed. There was The Amazing (not so amazing) Spiderman on Starz, The Batman in some other channel, and the one I chose to watch, also directed by Tim Burton, Batman Returns. It had been a while since I had last seen that movie. Story goes that I went to watch it with my family when I was a kid, but that I fell asleep at some point of the movie. That’s very likely, since I must have been three years old and barely have memories of those days. Suffice to say, Batman was my favorite superhero and overall character of my childhood, with me possesing at least 7-10 different action figures variations of the character.

Obviously, the excellent trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan revived the franchise which severely damaged by the awful 90s rendition Batman & Robin, which I must admit I actually liked when I saw it (hell! I was 6 years old!). Anyways, the last three Batman movies have obviously been the best the character has seen, but we’ll admit that Tim Burton certainly hit the nail in the head with his 90s versions. Obviously, both set of movies are tremendously different, with the Dark Knight choosing to be more realistic, while the Burton films featured a different kind of obscurity, a more comic-like appearance which is probably more faithful to the original concept of The Batman. Burton films leave off the film noir feel of the Nolan films and go for a more over the top gothic feel. However, while researching, it has surprised me how much of his own Burton placed on the film, especially in regards to The Penguin character.

The whole origin story, about being thrown to the sewers by his family, and his posterior rise to crime from the underground were entirely his making, as well as the extremely grotesque appearance of the villain. The Penguin has indeed always been chubby and with a hook nose, but Burton expands on Danny Devito’s character, giving him long hair at the side of his head instead of the fully bald comic appearance, and by fusing his fingers, making him snort and drool some sort of black saliva and making him eat raw fish. Curiosly, the original comic book character was based on the mascot for Kool cigarettes, Willie the Penguin. And yet another curiosity is that an object, similar to one of his many weapon umbrellas was actually developed and even used in assasinations. It received the name of Bulgarian Umbrella.

Anyways, I remember rewatching the movie years later; I must have been 14 or something then, and I enjoyed it more, although the presence of the Max Schreck character wasn’t quite clear to me until yesterday’s rewatch. Michelle Pffeifer as Catwoman is okay, but Selina Kyle annoyed the hell out of me, especially because of her relationship with Bruce Wayne. Anyways, truth is I actually didn’t finish watching the movie yesterday, mainly because I hate when tv channels need to constantly insert commercials every 15 minutes, and then, because the movie just gave me a real desire to play the 1992 Super Nintendo game.

The Super Nintendo was certainly the golden years of video gaming, back then the games didn’t need life-like graphics, or intricate storylines. They simply were fun to play. And I remember back in the day, having to go to the rental and choosing out of the available games what to play for the next two days. Ok, I’ll be sincere, back then I wasn’t a gamer, I mainly just enjoyed watching my siblings play and cheering up for them, watching the gameplay as if watching a movie. I don’t mind, I didn’t get bored. And as many more games, we never really got off from some particular stage, and looking back, most of them were pretty early stages. But I guess you can’t blame 8 year old children for not been able to conquer the Elephant Cemetary stage in Lion King or that “flying carpet over lava” stage in Aladdin, especially not with only a few hours of gameplay. It turns out, that while watching the movie, I realised we never got past the second stage of the game. The main reason been: this motherfucker. Well, that and the fact that I’m pretty sure we never got to this menu screen:

Who would have known? Turns out you can actually change the game’s difficulty, and that you can increase your lives up to 9. And there we were, not knowing more than a couple of alphabet related words in English, and here I am, ranting about the same game, in fluent English. We’ve come a long way. Anyways (I’ve got to find anotehr word, I know), I actually stopped watching the movie, in order to download the ROM version of the SNES game, and after a few seconds, I load it and started playing. Obviously, roms give you the chance to cheat, and constantly save your progress without having to start back again from stage’s start, but I actually tried to use it the less I could. I actually didn’t have to use it, until I hit that stage 2 boss, that stupid fat guy, which we always made fun of, since Batman gets rid of him so easily in the movie, by simply attachin some dynamite on him and throwing him down a hole (so much for the theory that Batman doesn’t kill).

But you can’t blame me. If you could only see that guy’s punch range, and how much each blow takes off from your lifeline, you would also think how on Earth did the game developers expect a kid to go through these stages without having a save slot/load slot to rely on. And worst of all, this guy doesn’t get stunned by the batarangs, but only knocked down, which doesn’t take off hit points. And I haven’t even start talking about those annoying c

lowns which accompany him. But well, back in my preteens, when the SNES emulator was better than any Game Cube game out there, I extremely enjoyed these beat-em-up games. I sure will need to make another entry on them on the future, and let me say Batman Returns was one of the best of them. Except for those horrible, extremely hard in normal mode villains, and for its lack of cooperative mode, the game is great. It features amazing graphics and colors for it’s day, and the gameplay is mostly good, except for some stages, stage 3 in particular, which try to focus the game less on the action, and more on platform jumping, which is really annoying because Batman jumps are quite lame and hard to calculate. And well, I finally got to battle one of the real villains, with Catwoman at the end of stage 3, which wasn’t easy to beat either, and for which I had to abuse the load command. I was later killed at the beggining of stage 4, but I had quite satisfied my “rigio”(willingness?? o.O) the movie awoke in me. Still, I now know that there is a Batmobile stage which I haven’t got to, and I’ve never fought The Penguin, so who knows, maybe a leisure weekend and an awful amount of save & load and I’ll beat the game.