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Batman: Return of the Joker

aka: Batman: O Retorno do Coringa, Batman: Revenge of the Joker, Dynamite Batman
Moby ID: 5505
NES Specs
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Description official descriptions

The Joker lives again in SunSoft's sequel to their NES original. The Joker has somehow managed to escape from Arkham Asylum once again, and Batman must fight him across seven stages to restore peace to Gotham City.

Batman carries a gauntlet shooting basic bullets by default. This can be upgraded with weapon powerups located in boxes throughout the level, giving access to homing and energy weapons. Every upgrade weapon can be charged up for a secondary attack, different for each weapon. Batman also has a slide useful against most enemies and some bosses.

Boss fights introduce a system where life is measured by points instead of tick marks or bars. In these sections, Batman has significantly more health, and can take many more hits when rumbling with these stronger foes.

Levels include a snowy landscape, moving train, military base, and sewers. Two levels require you to run and dodge explosions while vehicles keep pace in the background. Some levels also have Batman activate a jetpack and play through a short side-scrolling shooter.

This game is one of the few Batman games that was not based directly on a movie or television series.


  • γƒ€γ‚€γƒŠγƒžγ‚€γƒˆγƒγƒƒγƒˆγƒžγƒ³ - Japanese NES title spelling

Groups +



Credits (NES version)

15 People (11 developers, 4 thanks)

Sound Program
Special Thanks
Presented by
  • Sunsoft



Average score: 68% (based on 27 ratings)


Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 40 ratings with 3 reviews)

Frustrated with Batman: The Video Game's difficulty? Try this one...

The Good
I've been promising myself to review the first Batman game on the NES, which I and the rest of humanity love, but having finished this game today made me want to review it first. And here was I, in a bored afternoon, when I decided to play some NES game. I remember playing it back in the day, and though I remember it being fun, I didn't like it as much as I liked the first one for some reason. I also remember playing the Genesis version, which was quite similar to it, but again, nothing to write home about. But I recently watched Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN)'s review on this one, so I thought "well, let's give it a try". AVGN tell us this game is insanely hard, yet as it turns out he was wrong (more on that later), but let's start talking about the game.

Batman: Return of the Joker is a sequel to Batman: The Video Game and unlike the first game, this one isn't based on any movie. Instead, the plot follows the first game's story. Somehow the Joker is back and Batman is once again called to save the day. Not much of a story there, but who needs stories in side-scrollers, eh?

Gameplay-wise the game brings some elements from the prequel while adding some new features. Batman can't punch or do wall jumps anymore, but has a wider range of weapons and can also do a slide attack. He starts off with only a batgun with straight-moving bullets and this weapon can be upgraded with letter upgrades: S, B, N and C. The S version shoots what looks like shurikens in three different directions. The B shoots guided bullets. The N shoots two somewhat senoidal waves of bullets and the C shoots some sort of rocket bullet which explodes on target. All special weapons have also a special shot, which can be released by holding the B button for a while and releasing it. The S shoots and orbiting cloud of bullets, B shoots a rotating blast of fire to whenever direction Batman is looking at (this includes up and down), N shoots a stronger single senoidal wave and C shoots four little rockets. You'll find use to all weapons in the game, but I used mostly C and B. Aside from the weapon power ups, Batman also collects another type of power up, which is measured by a counter with the letter B, right under his life counter. When this counter reaches 10, Batman becomes invulnerable and keeps shooting automatically while the counter is depleted.

Besides the platform side-scrolling levels, where Batman has to kill enemies, jump over holes and avoid obstacles such as spikes (which grant instant death), there are also some shoot'em up levels where Batman flies with a jetpack side-scrolling to the right while destroying enemies.

The boss levels have a special touch to them. Batman's life meter is replaced by a numeric power counter at the bottom of the screen, always showing 80,000 at the start. The enemies also have their power counter and as you get to harder bosses, their power becomes higher and higher than yours.

The graphics in the game are really good, but they are more colourful than the first game. One thing I really like about the first game is that NES darker palette fits it perfectly. In this game, they used more colors, which granted the game good graphics, but not as much appealing as the first one (at least for my taste). Batman's and the enemies's sprites are huge, something I'm not used to in NES games. Some enemies are just updated versions of the enemies from the first game, and this adds some kind of interesting continuity to this game.

The music is also pretty good, specially the title tune. I still prefer the music in the first game, as I still whistle those tunes every now and then, while I can't remember much of Return of the Joker's tunes, even if I've just finished the game. Maybe that's because I spent much less time on it, but that's something to talk about in the "bad" section of this review.

The Bad
As I said in the beginning of this review, I decided to play it after watching AVGN's review of this game. He even states that overall this isn't a bad game, but he complains a lot about its difficulty. Well, this game is anything but hard. I agree that some stages are annoying, that dying is overall easy, but many measures were taken to make this game an easy ride.

Batman's life bar can never be restored, and if the player dies in the middle of a stage he'll start from the beginning of it. But all stages are pretty short, so this won't be really a problem (except for two or three stages from all 12 - not counting the bosses - the game features). The game offers infinite continues, and you'll always continue from the stage you died, except for boss fights. But the bosses are the easiest part of the game. If you use the B weapon and a turbo joypad, all you have to do is avoid their attacks and keep shooting until all their power is depleted. Even the last boss, which has an enormous amount of power, took me only two tries to kill.

The game is overall short, and that's probably why I didn't get to know each tune well. With 7 levels, with 2 or 3 substages each, you'd expect a game at least as long as the first one, but as the levels are short and easy, you'll find yourself finishing it in about one hour of gameplay.

Another thing which I missed in this game was a bit more of a story. The first game didn't have much of it either, but at least it followed the movie's plot and had little cutscenes in between the levels to fill the gap. This one only shows Batman, the Bat-Mobile and the Bat-Wing with a "Stage Clear" phrase in the end of each level, and that was even misleading, as I was expecting some Bat-Mobile or Bat-Wing stage after that. The game's intro only shows the Joker laughing and Batman being called, and it turns out that you just don't know what the Joker is up to, and why are you going from place to place to finally find him on an island.

The Bottom Line
All in all Return of the Joker is a good game. It seems to me that SunSoft tried to make their first game even better by putting more effort to the graphics and toning down the difficulty. But it seems that they tried a bit too hard, rendering the game much easier than it should be. I'd like to make clear I played it with a gamepad with Turbo function, so maybe much of the difficulty goes away due to this. But any experienced button-masher won't find any difficulty even if playing with a regular controller.

A bit more of story and challenge would make it as good as the first one, or even better than it.

NES · by chirinea (47496) · 2008

Very impressive, but not flawless

The Good
Batman : The video game, a video game based on the original Batman movie (that I've unfortunately never seen yet), sold well enough so that Sunsoft would make a sequel to it, but this time the game is not based on any existing media, it is just a brand new video game that features the characters from Batman and this is good.

Batman : Retrurn of the Joker (from not on abbreviated BROJ) follows the classical side-view platformer formula. You control Batman (duh), and you fight against the Joker and his followers (re-duh), but this time you can use a set of different guns to kill your enemies. You can also slide, which is a good feature. The platformer action found in this game is satisfying, as there is many traps to avoid plus some fast enemies, so you're not going to be bored when playing BROJ and this is good. As if this isn't enough you get twice a very cool horizontal shooter minigame. Batman usually have only a small lifebar, and if it vanishes you have to redo the area, however you have infinite continues which is cool as there is no frustration here. During boss battle the life of both opponents is shown with numbers, and if you fail you have to redo the area before the boss fight.

The game is hard enough to keep you interested, but is no frustratingly hard or anything like that. As you can redo any area infinitely it's hard to give up as you're constantly thinking "I was so close to make it". Boss battles are hard until you figure the ideal pattern, then it become a cake. The last boss is very hard, but doable with a cheat controller that allows very fast shooting.

The graphics of BROJ are absolutely outstanding. I think they should be the best graphics I've ever seen on the NES console, and I've played many NES games. They are dark, animated and fit the mood perfectly. Batman himself look very handsome and is very unlike the typical cute NES protagonists we're used to. Too bad there is a lot of flickering, and the regular enemies aren't as awesome (but still great).

The music of BROJ is, too, very good. You don't get that many tracks, but the few we get range from good to awesome, and this is a good thing. The drums sound better than in most NES games. The music for the horizontal shooter minigame is VERY awesome. The only bad thing is that the re-used the tracks instead of composing new ones for each area. But as the tracks are so good I can't complain. The sound effects are very well done as well.

The Bad
There is one big flaw in BROJ : The controls are unresponsive, and Batman is SLOW ! It looks like glue is on your controller when you're playing this. The game is also a little short, and some stages are too easy once you figure the trick out. If only the game were slightly longer and with more responsive controls, this would be the perfect video game on the NES.

Another flaw is that as the game features many different weapons (collectible in Contra style, each one has a letter), only one of them, the 'C' gun, is really good and all the other are crap.

The Bottom Line
Nevertheless, BROJ is a very good game, and is the ultimate reference about what the NES is capable of graphically. The music is very good too. This is a must play for fans of the NES console or fan of Batman. A strong point of this game also is that it's completely original, it's not a bland rip off of an existing movie or TV series. If you'd ever want to play a game featuring Batman, you'd probably pick this one, just because it's a "true" video game, and definitely a very cool one. If you can't find a used copy don't hesitate to download, as unfortunately this game isn't as common and well known as it should have been. I think this game is a classic and deserves to be much more known.

NES · by Bregalad (937) · 2008

Great follow-up to a hard-to-follow act

The Good
The original Batman game on the NES was outstanding in every way. Return of the Joker certainly had a tough act to follow. Fortunately this game was up to the challenge. Take everything that was awesome about the first game (which was everything) and then add some fast scrolling action sequences featuring multiple scrolling backgrounds, some new weapons, and another showdown with the Joker himself.

The Bad
I did not like the confusion that came from feeling that this game was supposed to be based on a movie of some sort. Which, of course, it wasn't. Sunsoft must have had enough success with their first Batman game that they received the license to make this title.

The Bottom Line
Return of the Joker is an outstanding sequel to an excellent game. It should be enough action to keep you busy for an afternoon or two.

NES · by Multimedia Mike (20664) · 2005


Subject By Date
SNES version? Ace of Sevens (4479) May 22, 2007


Cancelled SNES port

An SNES port was nearly completed but ultimately not released, though the ROM is available. Interestingly, it seems to have been made separately from the Genesis version and uses different art assets.


The short tune played during the "stage clear" screens was first used for the same purpose in the Genesis version of Batman: The Video Game.

Information also contributed by chirinea.


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  • MobyGames ID: 5505
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by quizzley7.

Genesis added by Roedie. NES added by Goteki45.

Additional contributors: Goteki45, chirinea, lugnut, LepricahnsGold, Ace of Sevens, Patrick Bregger.

Game added January 3, 2002. Last modified January 29, 2024.