This remake of Batman adds new color graphics and sounds to the isometric action-adventure from 1986. As in the original, the player controls Batman (renamed to "Watman" to avoid litigation) in his quest to assemble the hovercraft and rescue Robin. The batcave is filled with bizarre creatures and surreal rooms, where dangerous roaming enemies have to be avoided and hazardous environments must be navigated to collect all the vehicle pieces and finish the main goal.
Watman can only use his special abilities after finding and equipping one of his famous gadgets. The boots allow him to jump, the bag lets him carry objects, the thruster gives horizontal control when falling and the belt slows the speed of descent. Other items give temporary powers, like energy pellets that increase Watman's speed, shields that make the hero invulnerable for a short time, spring boots for higher jumps, a Batman doll that gives an extra life and a neutralizer that removes all powers.
Some rooms have batsignals that provide a rudimentary way of saving progress, allowing the player to resume from that point after losing all lives. The PC remake has the ability to save the game at any place with the F2 key, and load it later from the main menu. Batman loses one life with each save, and the player can't use this function when the number of remaining lives is zero.
Watman is a great remake of Batman, a classic 1986 action/adventure hybrid released only for the Spectrum computer, designed by Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond and published by OCEAN. The original Batman is not only one of the first PC adaptations of a comic book license, but is also probably the world's first 3D platformer (well, isometric anyway ;)). Our mighty hero's task this time is to rescue Robin, his trusty sidekick, from the clutches of... well, you'll find out ;)
What makes Batman a great game (and one of the best implementations of comic book licenses, ever) is the amazing attention to detail and solid action/adventure gameplay. The game took its designers over ten months to write, and it shows in the amazing graphics as well as faithful throwbacks to the series. Batman's first task is to find and collect four Bat-equipment that will help in his quest - in the Batcave, no less. He's after his Batboots that allow him to jump, his Batbag to store inventory, his Batthruster to shoot him sideways, and finally his Batbelt that halves the speed of descent, allowing him to "fly" further. The game is cleverly designed so that you can't progress beyond a certain stage without these items - a nice touch of adventure gaming.
After collecting all four items, your next task will be to help Batman find the seven parts of the Batcraft, which are scattered around the Batacombs. The Batacombs are a complex maze of at least 150 rooms spread over nine floors. The game will test your arcade/timing skills to the limit, as well as your brain cells due to the bewildering amount of tricks and traps to avoid, deactivate, or otherwise overcome.
Although it is a bit disappointing that Batman spends more time hunting for items like a senile superhero than punching baddies, devious puzzles and level design will keep fans happy. Watman is very faithful to the original, right down to the squishy noises you hear when Batman walks around. The graphics have been updated to 256 colors to a great effect. Looking at this game, one can't help but appreciate the attention to detail that went into the 1986 original (which features some of the most detailed graphics ever seen in an isometric game, for any computer). Similar to the original, Watman is a very difficult game, very tricky, and often quite frustrating, but the strong "just one more room" addiction remains intact. Definitely one of the most faithful and best remakes I have ever seen, and like the original, Watman is well worth a look by Batman fans and fans of unique action/adventure hybrids.
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