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Metal King Slime
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2014 In Review: Batman and Robin 
 PostThu Jan 22, 2015 8:09 am
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A comma would've made this sentence more grammatically correct, but way less funny.
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Bug Report: Doesn't actually teach you Batarang. Is instead ammo for that spell. Also, not how you spell antidote.
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Bug Report: Item descriptions don't match their effect.
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Bug Report: Clayface taunted me while I was riding the escalator
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What's up with Robin's costume here anyway? It changed sometime during Scarecrow's stage and changed back shortly after. Hallucination from the fear gas?
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..and they're whisper quiet! Buy one today, only 5 payments of 199.99!
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This game makes me wanna get hammered
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Green and Red don't mix to make Yellow, by the way... this puzzle is a little weird
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Awww yeah.. I'd dance with HER devil by the pale moonlight, you know what I'm sayin'
This is a review of Batman & Robin.

I already reviewed the Joker Mode portion of this game for the Heart of OHR Voting and can be found here. The following review pertains to the Batman and Robin part of the proceedings and was written after I deleted the provided HOTOHR saves

After my experience with Joker Mode, I wasn't sure what to expect from Batman mode. Presumably more complicated, presumably more stuff to screw up. I took a couple days off to make sure that my frustration from Joker Mode didn't bleed over and it was a good thing I did. I enjoyed this game until I got to the final dungeon. There were a lot of little turn-offs, but no fatal flaws till the end.

Batman takes a page from Megaman's book, allowing you to take on each of the criminal masterminds in whatever order you'd like. There doesn't seem to be a big advantage to taking the dungeons in a particular order. I opted for Croc -> Clayface -> Scarecrow -> Mr. Freeze -> Poison Ivy. Seemed like a logical progression. Shockingly for an RMZ game, each dungeon is nicely paced. They're not too big, enemies (even bosses!) take a reasonable amount of damage and you don't notice how slow the heroes are going most of the time. The puzzles are pretty simple and don't overstay their welcome. Until the final dungeon, that is.

Battles take place in a weird hybrid of Touch-RPG stealth and random encounter. Every so often (I don't understand what exactly triggers it) a group of NPC thugs will pop up around you, and beating one will erase the whole group. It reminds me of the second NES Zelda game and like in that game it seems like you can choose an easier or more difficult enemy. It's a fun system, though sometimes they spawn literally right on top of you making it a moot point and they aren't suspended during textboxes or cutscenes so a few times a battle would interrupt something else.

One part that frustrates me is what happens when you die: Nothin! You pop up back at the Batcave ready to go again. On its own, that's a GREAT touch, it's always better for a game to be too easy than to be too hard. The downside is that if you try to go back to the Batcave on your own, Batman refuses. If you go to Mr. Freeze's place and forgot to put on your ice suit your only choice is to find a convenient eskimo and get skewered to death. That takes a lot of time, it's inconvenient, but you aren't penalized for it at all. I know that RMZ has the ability to let you leave the dungeon whenever, because after you beat a boss you're allowed to explore their lair and leave through the menu and it's frustrating to arbitrarily be forced to find a way to suicide.

Another irritating part is equipment. You have to choose your equipment in the Batcave. That makes sense, nobody wants Batman to switch suits in the middle of the sewers with all the bad guys watchin, but the interface is really irritating, especially if you're buying new equipment. You have to A) Talk to the Equipment NPC B) Buy the equipment C) Talk to the NPC Again, because it dumps you out of all menus and D) Actually choose to equip the equipment. And if you want to buy Robin equipment too, you gotta walk to the other side of the Batcave and do it again.

The Batcave in general is a sore spot for me. There's a lot of walking involved, and talking, and it feels like the whole thing could've been condensed onto a menu with cool backdrops and had the same effect. Almost all of the menus dump you all the way out, so if you want to say... read all of the character profiles or examine all of the stat pre-requisites for Batman and Robins attacks, you have to do a lot more button pushing than is really necessary. The weirdest part is when you choose a dungeon; it tells you "Killer Croc loves guns!"... after you're already going there and it's too late to change your strategy. If you could just turn around and fix it, it wouldn't be as big of a problem but when Batman has to go get eaten by a crocodile so he can put his bullet proof vest on, it feels wrong.

Just like in Joker mode, the audio experience leaves a lot to be desired. Still no sound effects, which makes the fights feel a little draggier than they ought to. Still only one song (per dungeon) and no seperate song for battles. Killer Croc's stage has the worst music and Clayface's has the best. Generally the shorter dungeons didn't get as repetitious, but it could've used something to mix it up a little.

My final nitpick before the big blowup about the ending is Batman himself. Look at his portrait! THAT'S supposed to be the Caped Crusader? The Dark Knight? The face that every evil-doer in Gotham fears? Batman is supposed to be angular.. Sharp nose! Pointy ears! This guy's cowl makes me think more of Finn from Adventure Time, with those cuddly little round things stickin off the top. Even Adam West was more intimidating than that!

Which brings us to the final dungeon. The game warns you to bring plenty of potions. I had 150 potions and assumed I would be safe. Potions, by the way, are super cheap. The game is very generous in terms of healing items, you get like 6 "points" from a random encounter and a potion costs 2 points. MP healing isn't even that much more expensive, it's great. More games should be like this. Except for that damned final dungeon. No game should be like that!

For the first time in the game, the enemies are a bit too hard. For the first time in the game, the maps are too big. And for the first time in the game, you have to go all over the damned map trying to figure out "clues" to solve safe combinations with these enemies who're too strong whittling away at you, with like... a million possible things that COULD be clues. Is it the number of tanks? The number of fish in the tanks? The number of fins on the fish? Is it numbers in the descriptions of the fish? Syllables in the name? There's no way of knowing for sure.

I eventually got the correct answer for the first safe. I'm not sure how I was supposed to come to the conclusion though. My first guess was based on "How many fish are in each room near the safe?" and from that I got the number 4. Through lots of modifications of that thought process, and eventually a collection of four tanks that I was 99% sure would be right, I got the combination 4334... which was still wrong! Then I started brute forcing, but herein lies the problem: Every time you give an incorrect answer, you have to fight one of those random encounters.

In hindsight, that actually makes brute forcing the best solution. I mean, after at most 40 tries you're guaranteed to get it right. I fought way more than 40 battles wandering around trying to do it the right way. Perhaps it's a testament to the game's quality, or to my naivete, that I was trying to do it right to begin with. At any rate, it took me a long time to brute force because I kept on trying to do it the right way. Or I'd try an answer I'd already tried before because I'm stupid. I was draining my potions pretty quick. Then I started to use my techniques (I'd been saving MP for boss fights, mostly) to make the battles go faster. I had plenty of MP boosters so I was gonna be okay in that department too. Surely I'd solve the thing before my supplies were exhausted!

I started with 150 potions, and by the time I got the combination to that first safe, I was down to like 60. Then I got to the next area, fighting more battles along the way, a lot of battles, battles that were taking a rather longish time even with MP Spam and... got clues to the next safe. Before I'd even FOUND the damn safe! I wandered around for like 20 minutes trying to find the safe, trying to find anything that seemed like it might be a clue, hell, anything but more battles, but no luck. I did eventually find the safe, with 20 potions left. An NPC had given me the first number (and possibly the last, I never got a chance to check if it was right), but my initial guess of 2468 was wrong. I tried a few more things and looked around before finally the repeating music, the longish battles and my dwindling supply of potions forced a rage quit.

I could've died and gotten more potions, could've died and kept the levels I gained in that hell. But after fighting that hard to stay alive for so long, potion after potion, I didn't want to give those criminal bastards the satisfaction. My save game shows that I had played for 2 hours before I entered the final dungeon, and I spent at least an hour in the Joker's Hell. That's a third of the game! I really hope I'm stupid and was missing something obvious.

In my opinion, this is a good game. There's a lot of things it could do that would make it a GREAT game. Everyone making games today can look at this game's title screen, can look at the fact it has unlockable costumes and achievements and secrets. Everyone making games today can see how it's better to be too easy than too hard, can see how important sound effects and polish are. Those cutscenes where like... laser beams turn off or sewer platforms rise up are great, but they feel really blank without the visceral thrill of a good sound effect. Forgivable death is a great design choice for this kind of RPG, doubly so with the Mega Man stuff, but don't make death mandatory, don't feel like you have to kill the player for making a mistake just because you can. In goodness and badness, this is a great game to learn from. What to do and what not to do in one tidy, Batman flavored package.

Just quit before the final dungeon! Catch Poison Ivy and call it a night. Ho ho, since when is that ever a bad plan...

PS: I didn't test to find out if you scripted a way around it, but I think it's possible to push the blocks in the ice puzzle to trap yourself and force a reload. Be careful with that kind of thing!
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