Game music of the day: Batman: Return of the Joker

GR's ongoing tribute to the beloved world of videogame music

Game: Batman: Return of the Joker

Song: Level 1

Composer: Kodaka, Nobuyuki and Seya

Above: Level 1 from Return of the Joker

Just as everyone was ready to write off the NES as a dead system (what with the Super NES and Genesis already going toe to toe), Sunsoft released this remarkably capable Batman sequel that sported graphics well above the 8-bit average. The visuals, when coupled witha rockin' soundtrack, created a damn good last-minute NES game that's been overlooked due to its unlucky release window.

I too missed out on Return of the Joker, and barely played it at all when it first appeared. Later on though, its soundtrack lured me back in and I've come to appreciateit on technical level, if not strictly as a game. I present the game's opening level music because 1) It's what I'm most familiar with and 2) You've gotta admit, that's some pretty solid stuff. Great beat, excellent use of the NES' "crunching guitar" noise and all-around impressive piece of work.

Above: Stages 2-2 and 5-2 share this song, which sounds right out of Sunsoft's Gremlins 2. Bass crazy!

Above: There's a reason Game Boys areused topower chiptunes bands- the GB version of ROTJ is just as awesome as its 8-bit cousin

Above: And then there's the Genesis version of Level 1, though the game was called Revenge of the Joker, not Return

ROTJ is interesting in that it's primarily based on the comics, yet has a handful of connections to the 1989 Tim Burton film (such as the movie-specific Batmobile). It's also bizarre that Sunsoft released ROTJ the same yearas theBatman Returns film (1992) and waited a full year before creating tie-in Batman Returns videogames. I supposeReturn of the Jokerwas meant to be a stopgap solution whileSunsoft created tie-ins to the '92 film, but in reality, their "tide you over" game was better than the real deal. Assuming you're not dizzy from all the "Returns" in this paragraph, be sure to check out theoriginal Batmangame for even better tunes.

Jungle area by Jonathan Dunn

Spark Mandrill by Tomozawa, Yamamoto, Horiyama, Iwai, Takehara

Hell March by Frank Klepacki

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