Released in 1993 for the SNES and 1992 for everything else by a million different developers (Seriously look at the wikipedia page), Batman Returns is a game about Batman being accosted by some jerks while on his way back from picking up some milk and eggs from the corner shop. Obviously he's not too pleased about this, so he decides to go on a rampage through the criminal underworld.
Best time: 0:13:01 by Jason 'honorableJay' Feeney on 2013-09-09.
Get Flash to see this player.
This run started off as a joke during AGDQ 2013. The first thing Mike Uyama said when he saw the game was something along the lines of, "Looks crappy to me." Then I got him to sit down and actually play the game. His reactions were pretty much the same as any number of streams he's had while playing a crappy game. The kicker though was having to burn up a continue before reaching the end of Act 1 and realizing he'd just been warped back to the beginning of the game. His reaction: toss the controller and say, "I'm done."
I made it a personal challenge to get revenge on the game for his sake. Beating the game was easy enough since I'd done it enough times as a kid. That doesn't mean I didn't have a lot of work to do. The controls are crap, Batman is a wimp, and the cheap factor can get ramped up in a moment's notice.
A - special weapon
B - Punch
C - Jump
Start - weapon select
Grapple - Up (hold for a second) + Jump, release Jump, press/hold for slow climb, press/release for fast climb
Grapple Swing - Jump (midair, must be falling)
Sweep - Down (hold) + Punch
Angle Batarang Up - Up (hold as if grappling) + Special
Punch - Weakest attack along with the standard Batarang. Quick attack speeds, normal enemies are stunned for a few frames.
Forward Kick (aka the Mighty Boot) - Slightly slower than the punch. Normally, there are 2 attack boxes for the kick which can hit enemies twice, but if you spam the kick as fast as possible the second attack box is canceled. The good thing is all of Batman's kicks can destroy bullets (including swinging into them, the game considers the swing a kick).
Sweep - Borderline useless. Slower than the punch, weaker than the Mighty Boot.
Batarang - Quick firing, full screen range, can be angled upwards, and there are a ton of them throughout every level.
Smoke Bombs - The hitbox will destroy projectiles and make enemies pause where they are and have no collision box for 5 seconds. This lets you walk through them easily, BUT any extended attack boxes (say from a sword or fire) will still damage you. Due to the time it takes to switch weapons and that the weapon only activates upon hitting the ground or a wall, it's almost worthless.
Bat Swarm - Flies in a straight line until it leaves the screen or collides with an enemy. During flight it will eat any projectile in it's path and disable/insta-kill normal enemies. Bosses take about 2 and a half bars of damage, not all bosses are disabled.
Batclaw - Extends in a straight line from Batman's hand, insta-kills normal enemies, deals about 1.5 bars of damage to bosses, 2nd best weapon in Batman's arsenal (although hitting a projectile stops the weapon immediately).
Homing Batarang - Aside from the slow speeds, it is the best weapon available. For normal enemies it will hunt them down 1 at a time and insta-kill them. For bosses it deals between 1.5 and 2 bars of damage.
The biggest problem with the standard arsenal is you have to stand still to attack, limiting your attack range. Every other enemy in the game can hurt you just by touching you, OR has a long range attack to avoid. The only weapons you can get (aside from standard Batarangs) are usually scattered too far away to be convenient and just waste time grabbing. This makes tanking damage and abusing death a high priority to plow through levels then burn up all acquired weapons on the bosses. Avoiding damage can save time, but only when enemies play nicely. Striving to avoid damage can actually waste a lot of time in some levels.
As if the weapons weren't nerfed enough, every weapon besides the Batarang can only have 1 on screen at a time. The grapple, used only to climb, actually counts as a weapon. During Act 2 there's one spot where I have to wait for my homing Batarang to take out 2 guys before the game will actually let me grapple.
The last major quirk with the game is Batman's speed: if he walked any slower he'd be going in reverse. Jumping like a big purple bunny is actually twice as fast as just walking. Speed rankings are as follows:
Walking (aka Strutting): f*&^ing slow
Gliding: almost f*&^ing slow
Jumping: not as f*&^ing slow
Short jumping: annoying to time, but still not as f*&^ing slow
Grapple swinging: With no enemies on screen it's fast, with enemies on screen the lag puts it at not as f*&^ing slow
Compared to my last submission for this game (which I self-rejected), this run is just over 30 seconds faster. The biggest improvement was the discovery of an interesting trick: Attack Cancelling. Any standing attack (minus the weapons) can be cancelled into a jump, BUT Batman's attack box stays active. This gets around the fact that Batman can't attack enemies while rising from a jump. Anytime you see an enemy take a hit for no reason is from an attack cancel.
At the start I make sure to choose the maximum amount of starting lives (7, 9 is the highest you can get with 1-ups) so I can abuse death to the fullest. Even though there is no difficulty setting, choosing 7 lives is technically the Easy mode.
1.1 Rooftop Rumble
Following the path along the bottom is the quickest since I don't have to deal with any floating penguin bombs, and the only enemies I come across are flipping clowns. Good positioning and timing makes going under them pretty simple (although I do take one shot later in the level). This route also has the best places to grab weapons that waste little to no time. One change I made here is to go up the stairs and also use a (really tough) grapple swing to grab 2 homing Batarang powerups. These save more time in the later stages than they waste here (with the swing actually saving time over just jump spamming). By the time I get to Catwoman, I've grabbed just enough Batswarm powerups to take her down quickly. Another change I made throughout the run is to switch weapons during level transitions since they waste less time than doing so during a level (most transitions are on a strict timer, Act changes not so much).
1.2 Leaning Tower of WTF?
This level has an interesting (and by interesting I really mean frustrating) gimmick where the building is angled as if falling to the left. Since the devs realized this would mess with the grapple mechanics, they made it so the grappling angles change depending on what side you're facing. Going right now sends the grapple farther to the right, and going left is pretty close to straight up. Right at the start I grab an extra Batclaw that I'll wind up using later in Act 4. Most of the level is just trying to get good damage boosts over the unicycle clowns and getting good grapple swings between each floor. One major quirk with the mid-air grapple is that not every surface can be used. For instance, the steam pipes cannot be grappled from underneath and directly to the sides. Also, the 5th floor (with the spike pit) has very small grapple areas in the middle of the broken floor. Trying to grapple at the T sections of the floor (where you can actually stand on if you're lucky enough to get on them) or to the immediate sides will just whiff. The next obstacle to get past are the statue heads. Normally you have to destroy them to clog up the ventilation shaft (which will suck you in and drop you at the start of the level). For the first one, I found out that using the invincibility from grabbing a health refill allows me to just drop through the floor without destroying the statue. At the end I get to take on the twin gear-spawning-fire-spitting statues. I botched the setup by a few frames, but after taking a gear to the ass I recovered and still turned out a quick fight.
1.3 Holy Nightmare Batman!!
Avoiding the flipping clowns here is really difficult due to the floor traps (spike pits and holes to avoid). The only thing I can really do here is to either tank the damage as quickly as possible or catch a hit at the top of a jump and despawn the clown (which can be slower). Getting a good attack cancel against the gun clowns is all dependent on how they spawn. Sometimes I can get up without taking a shot, most of the times I don't. The final climb before Penguin is pretty straightforward. One thing to note is the 4th platform has a mandatory wait before Batman will grapple, and it's the only spot where it happens. Taking down Penguin in 3 cycles is the fastest possible.
2.1 Gotham Streets
Most of this level is trying to avoid the biker clowns. Using attack cancels to damage them as I move helps to get rid of some of the randomness, but not all of it. The best pattern is for them to come from the left side, then turn around mid-screen and go back to the left and despawn. I get a few, but most I have to kill. Avoiding more hits here saved quite a bit of time over my last attempt. The boss at the end is one of the cheapest in the game. His punch attack deals almost 2 bars of damage, has way more reach than any normal attack Batman can use, and if you have no weapons to use during this fight it's practically impossible. I make sure to not burn up all of my weapons since I'll need them later. I make sure to stay really close so I take contact damage instead of taking a punch (which has a high chance to knock me off to the lower level).
2.2 Gotham Mall
Apparently this is what a mall in Gotham City looks like, and the only thing on sale is Batman's soul. I guess that explains why there are so many enemies trying their hearts out to kill him. Luck was definitely on my side since I was able to avoid most of the damage I could potentially take here. Most of the time I'd have to take a death right before Catwoman to make sure to have enough health. Jumping on her head during the fight ensures she uses her whip attack rather than cartwheeling away. The Penguin fight starts with a long trip down the escalators with a huge metal ball rolling after me (and touching it is instant death). I got a really good despawn on the ball, then took Penguin down with all of the extra homing batarangs I stored up for a really quick 2 cycle fight.
3.1 Red Triangle Circus
Not much to see here. I make sure to keep my positioning as tight as possible to take more contact damage than actual attack damage. It doesn't go 100% according to schedule, but it's far from the worst I've seen. One thing to note: when grappling out of the cages, there's supposed to be a flame clown that spawns on the right. Since I get a flipping clown to follow me from the far left side of each cage and get out of the cage quick enough, I overload the games sprite limit and those flame clowns never get to see the light of day.
3.2 Wheels of Misfortune
The only thing that went wrong here was the attack cancel at the end. I was hoping to stun the clown long enough to exit the level without taking another hit, but the jump was too slow. All other hits here are planned, and the extra weapons I grab with the grapple swing ensures a really quick fight in the next act.
3.3 Circus Tent of Doom
After getting past the mirrors, the game decides to ramp up the cheap factor and slow me down. The bottom 2 lights are actually bombs, then there are boxing glove props and biker clowns. To help clean this area up and not take as much damage as in the past, I burn up a few batswarms on the bikers since I have a huge excess and will not go through them all by the end of the game. I do take one death, but it's intentional to take one at some point in the level. The only health refills are both in spots that waste more time to get than just taking a death. Luckily I avoid having to take an extra death near the end.
3.4 Crazy Train
Pretty straightforward section: get good damage boosts, get launched by the springboards, and take a death right before the axe clown fight. I used to burn up all of my major weapons to shorten this fight, but found that going with the trusty Mighty Boot strat didn't waste a lot of time and saved way more time in the next act (more later). I can't avoid knocking the clown back since it's just part of how he takes damage (like the unicycle clowns from the previous level).
4.1 Sewer Sludging Pt 1
Not much to say here, just taking the quickest path to the boss fight. A few smaller pieces could've gone better, but still pretty decent. Right before the boss, I changed to the wrong weapon and wasted a few seconds changing to the Batclaw. Here's where storing up all of the Batclaws comes in handy. Normally the clown will come up, take a few shots, then drop down only to return in a random spot. Sometimes it's from behind, sometimes it's all the way across the screen. Since he can waste easily 15 seconds, storing up the extra Batclaws significantly reduces this fight to 3 cycles.
4.2 Sewer Sludging Pt 2
A few notes about this section: any broken sections on the pipes are completely solid and cannot be grappled. Also, most big swings that I can do are slightly slower than the shorter ones due to the game lagging. The Penguin fight can't go any faster unfortunately unless I want to slow down the later fights in the game by wasting ammo.
5.1 The Iceman Cometh
So what does a game with clunky controls and bad hit-detection need? ICE PHYSICS!!!! Yes, exactly what was needed this far into the game. So now Batman slides on everything, all water is made an instant-death-trap (cause he never learned how to swim) and nearly every platform above said instant-death-trap are about the size of a small cake........with sprinkles. I took this section a little slower than usual with a lot more hesitation. Even though I was 20 seconds ahead of my older run, any mistake here can easily shave off 5 seconds or more of that lead.
5.2 Iceberg Hopscotch
Hoppity hoppity, to and fro, bang your head, in the water you'll go!
5.3 Batman: The Musical on Ice
Time for the almost-final showdown. First, attacking a giant rubber ducky while hopping on more icebergs. Then on to the actual almost-final showdown. I have to destroy the electric machine-generator-thingy before Penguin will die. It's so satisfying to see Penguin fall over in a stupor and slide back into his watery grave.
So now we're up to the point where, win or lose, the game is over. All that's left is to decide if I get the good ending (by winning) or the bad ending (by losing). Since losing the fight takes a really long time, I burn up a few more Batswarms and take down Catwoman in record breaking fashion (and by record breaking I mean 0.1 seconds faster than my previous attempt at this fight).
I'm definitely happy with how this run came out. There are still areas to save some more time, but the luck involved to not only get the consistency I had in this run and the extra extra luck in getting the execution for harder tricks make breaking the 13 minute mark a chore. Eventually I'll break that barrier, but not in the near future. That's definitely something farther down the road for me.
Special thanks to Mike Uyama for inspiring me to do this run. I really hope the game is destroyed enough for him :)
Also, I'd like to thank anyone who was tortured by this game as a kid and enjoyed watching this trainwreck get destroyed.
Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.