Batman up a ladder

Batman: The Caped Crusader logo

PROFESSOR Moriarty, the Penguin and the Joker are indestructible, yet Batman sets out to rid Gotham City of them. The Penguin has henchmen terrorising citizens and mechanical penguins everywhere. The Joker throws the local fairground into chaos and is holding Robin captive.

Unlike the previous version of Batman which took 3D games to new heights, The Caped Crusader is essentially a platform and ladders game, using the currently fashionable 2D with depth.

Put the disc in the drive, wait a few seconds, some music plays and you are invited to press f1 for the Joker or f2 for the Penguin - two entirely different scenarios for the price of one. The rest of the program loads, and you're off.

You can move Batman in 14 quickly-learned ways, all selected with joystick and Fire button. You can walk, climb, duck, high kick, low kick, punch and throw.
To use an object you must move over it and press the Fire button while pushing the joystick down. The utility screen appears and by moving the Batcursor over the appropriate icon you can carry, drop or use it.
This screen contains icons for switching sound on or off, abandoning the game and displaying score, energy and objects carried.

While you are scrambling around, various maniacs try to assault you, at which point the kicks and punches come in helpful, even against bombs and bullets. Your eventual aim appears to be either to enter the Penguin's mansion or to rescue Robin. The instructions, as usual, are unclear.

This new version of Batman is disappointing, especially for 16 bit machines from which great things must be expected. The display is too small, occupying about half the space it could have done. The graphics and sound are good, but could have been better, and the instructions reinforce the suspicion sparked off by the appearance of the graphics that I am reviewing a port from the ST.

The most serious fault is that The Caped Crusader is unsure of what type of game it wants to be. It is a cross between an arcade adventure, a good old platforms and ladders and a beat-' em-up. It doesn't really work.