Batman: Return of the Joker
Batman Return of the Joker NES.jpg
Packaging for the NES version
Designer(s)Yoshiaki Iwata
Tadashi Kojima
Programmer(s)H. Suzuki
Hirokatsu Fujii
Naoki Kodaka
Game Boy
Manami Matsumae
Naoki Kodaka
Tommy Tallarico
Platform(s)NES, Game Boy, Sega Genesis
  • NES
    • JP/NA: December 20, 1991
    • EU: November 19, 1992
    Game Boy
    • JP: March 28, 1992
    • NA: 1992

Batman: Return of the Joker[a] is a 1991 platform video game, the follow-up to Sunsoft's first Batman game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Unlike that game, which was based on the 1989 Batman film directed by Tim Burton, Return of the Joker is entirely self-contained and based more on the modern comic book iteration of Batman. However, Batman rides the Batmobile and the Batwing from the 1989 film. A remake of Return of the Joker, titled Batman: Revenge of the Joker, was released on the Sega Genesis by Ringler Studios in 1992. A Super NES version of Revenge of the Joker was completed but never officially released, however a ROM image surfaced online in later years.

A completely different version of the game was released on the Game Boy in 1992.


NES version

In Batman: Return of the Joker, the titular hero is on journey to the Joker's secret hide-out after called by Gotham City to find metals stolen by the Joker, one of which is highly toxic and used to build explosives for missiles.[1] The NES version of Batman: Return of the Joker consists of seven stages, each of which have two sub-levels (except for the last stage) and a boss level (except for the second and fifth stages); from beginning to end, they are the Gotham City cathedral, the Joker's warehouse, a snowy mountain, a refinery, an underground conduit, an ammunition base, and the Island of Ha-Hacienda.[2] Although Batman has three lives, the game has unlimited continues[3] and stage passwords that can be accessed by pausing the game.[4] The game's five bosses include the Ace Ranger, a Minedroid, the Master C.P.U. of the refinery, and two battles with the Joker;[2] for regular levels, Batman's health is represented in increments, but in the boss stages, both Batman and the boss's life meters are represented in numbers.[5]

Return of the Joker is a side-scrolling run and gun platformer.[6][7] Batman's weapon is a wrist projector[8] which the player change its type of ammunition by collecting icons throughout the levels: "C" icons for the crossbow, which shoots arrows that makes an enemy explode, "B" icons for "Batarangs", where its direction follows the movement of on-screen enemies, N for "Sonic Neutralizers" that shoots two patterns of Batarangs in a criss-cross shape, and "S" for "Shield Stars" that shoots three darts going separate directions.[9] Batman can slide by pressing the A-button and down on the D-pad, a move that is also an attack (although it only works against some enemies).[8] Batman can also collect energy capsules that, if eight are obtained, will make him become invincible for a few seconds.[9]

Game Boy version

The Game Boy version, unlike the NES version where the character shoots, is only a platformer.[7]


Dave Cook of Nintendo Life wrote that while Batman: Return of the Joker was "fun and challenging it doesn't feel as revolutionary as its predecessor despite being a commendable effort."[39]

Syfy Wire, in 2017, ranked the NES version of Batman: Return of the Joker the fourth most essential DC Comics video game adaptation to play.[40] Den of Geek ranked the Game Boy version the 22nd most underrated Game Boy game, praising its return of wall-jumping and beat 'em up mechanics of the 1989 Batman NES title, although complained about its limited continues.[41]

In 2019, IGN ranked the game's final boss the third best video game portrayal of the Joker of all-time.[42]

The Gamer, in 2020, claimed Return of the Joker to be the best-looking NES game ever, reasoning that the "sprites are fluid, the game’s color palette is moody & atmospheric, and the backgrounds are as fleshed out as can be for an NES game."[43] Yacht Club Games artist Nick Wozniak has named the game's Batman sprite as one of his all-time favorite in games: "As an adult, I was in shock at what I was seeing… There's only ever one or two humanoid enemies on screen because they are completely bombing the NES with the graphics. They give him a powerup where he turns gold and he shoots a bunch of guys. It's like Super Batman. They don't care."[44]

The Gamer has also called it one of the best all-time Batman video games: "the graphics are surprisingly spritely for an early 90s game, with entertaining gameplay and an intriguing storyline helping make this game an enjoyable experience."[6] It has also been ranked the ninth-best Batman game by Uproxx[45] and the tenth-best by IGN Spain.[46] In a worst-to-best list of Batman video games by The Things, Return of the Joker came in number 12: "Almost everyone who reviewed it remarked on how amazing the graphics and backgrounds were. This was 16-bit quality on 8-bit machines. The gameplay wasn't as good [as the prior Batman game], but only just. Building off the '89 game, combat-focused from attacks to gadgets, giving players greater variety. A better difficulty curve was also introduced."[47]


  1. ^ Known in Japan as Dynamite Batman (Japanese: ダイナマイトバットマン, Hepburn: Dainamaito Battoman)
  2. ^ a b In Electronic Gaming Monthly's reviews of both the Game Boy version and the NES version, two critics gave it an 8/10, one a 7/10, and another a 6/10.[14][15]
  3. ^ GamePro gave the NES version a 5/5 for graphics and four 4/5 ratings for sound, gameplay, fun factor, and challenge.[16]
  4. ^ Nintendo Power gave the NES version a 4.3/5 for graphics/sound, a 3.5/5 for challenge/excitement, and two 3.8/5 ratings for play control and theme/fun.[21]
  5. ^ Nintendo Power gave the Game Boy version 3.9/5 for graphics/sound, 3.4/5 for play control, 3.5/5 for challenge, and 3.6/5 for theme/fun.[22]
  6. ^ Nintendo Acción gave the NES version three 3/4 ratings for graphics, gameplay, and fun, and a 2/4 score for sound.[28]



  1. ^ NES instruction manual 1991, p. 4.
  2. ^ a b NES instruction manual 1991, p. 12.
  3. ^ NES instruction manual 1991, p. 11.
  4. ^ NES instruction manual 1991, p. 10.
  5. ^ NES instruction manual 1991, p. 9.
  6. ^ a b Handke, Tobias (August 27, 2018). "The 15 Best Batman Video Games Ever (And 14 That Are Embarrassing)". The Gamer. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Davis, Justin (October 4, 2014). "A Complete History of Batman Video Games". IGN. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  8. ^ a b NES instruction manual 1991, p. 6.
  9. ^ a b NES instruction manual 1991, p. 7.
  10. ^ Miller, Skyler. "Batman: Return of the Joker". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  11. ^ Weiss, Brett Alan. "Batman: Revenge of the Joker". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  12. ^ "Batman: Return of the Joker". Go!. No. 9. pp. 6–7.
  13. ^ Anglin, Paul (April 1993). "Batman: Revenge of the Joker". Computer and Video Games. No. 137. p. 40.
  14. ^ Harris, Steve; Semrad, Ed; Alessi, Martin; Sushi-X (May 1992). "Batman: Return of the Joker". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 34. p. 32.
  15. ^ Harris, Steve; Semrad, Ed; Alessi, Martin; Sushi-X (November 1991). "Batman 2". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 28. p. 20.
  16. ^ Earth Angel (December 1991). "Batman: Return of the Joker". GamePro. No. 29. pp. 26–27.
  17. ^ Scary Larry (May 1993). "Batman: Revenge of the Joker". GamePro. No. 46. p. 56.
  18. ^ Leach, James (April 1993). "Revenge of the Joker". GamesMaster. No. 4. pp. 42–43.
  19. ^ "Batman Return of the Joker". GameZone. No. 12. October 1992. pp. 58–59.
  20. ^ L'avis de Greatkev (June 16, 2011). "Batman : Return of the Joker". (in French). Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  21. ^ "Batman: Return of the Joker". Nintendo Power. Vol. 31. December 1991. pp. 8–17.
  22. ^ "Your Guide to the Latest Releases". Nintendo Power. Vol. 36. May 1992. p. 105.
  23. ^ Radion Automatic, Julian; Rignall (September 1992). "Batman: Return of the Joker". Nintendo Magazine System. No. 1. pp. 60–63.
  24. ^ "Total! Recall". Total!. No. 14. February 1993. p. 90.
  25. ^ James (October 1992). "Batman: Return of the Joker". Total!. No. 10. pp. 70–71.
  26. ^ "Batman: Return of the Joker". Zero. No. 36. October 1991. pp. 80–81.
  27. ^ "Batman II, Return of the Joker". Vol. 1, no. 2. July 1992. Retrieved September 17, 2020. ((cite magazine)): Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  28. ^ "Batman Return of the Joker". Nintendo Acción (in Spanish). No. 4. pp. 60–61.
  29. ^ "Batman: Return of the Joker". GB Action. No. 1. June 1992. pp. 20–21.
  30. ^ "Batman: Return of the Joker". N-Force. No. 2. August 1992. p. 47.
  31. ^ Mellerick, Paul (April 1993). "Batman Revenge of the Joker". Mega. No. 7. pp. 46–47.
  32. ^ Nick (May 1993). "Batman Revenge of the Joker". Mega Drive Advanced Gaming. No. 9. pp. 26–27.
  33. ^ "Batman: Return of the Joker". Mean Machines Sega. No. 7. April 1993. pp. 50–52.
  34. ^ "Batman Revenge of the Joker". MegaTech. No. 16. April 1993. pp. 58–59.
  35. ^ "Batman: Revenge of the Joker". Sega Force. No. 17. May 1993. pp. 82–84.
  36. ^ Wekh, Robbie (April 1993). "Batman: Revenge of the Joker". Sega Pro. No. 18. pp. 50–51.
  37. ^ "Batman Revenge Of the Joker". Sega Zone. No. 7. May 1993. pp. 42–43.
  38. ^ "Nintendo Power Awards '92: The NESTERS! And the nominees are". Nintendo Power. No. 46. March 1993. pp. 96–9.
  39. ^ Cook, Dave (March 24, 2016). "Feature: Batman V Superman In The Battle Of The Nintendo Games". Nintendo Life. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  40. ^ "WATCH: 7 essential DC Comics video games that will make you feel like a superhero (or supervillain)". Syfy Wire. December 29, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  41. ^ Freiberg, Chris (August 27, 2018). "25 Underrated Game Boy Games". Den of Geek. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  42. ^ Adler, Matthew (October 12, 2019). "The 5 Best Versions of Joker in Video Games, Ranked". IGN. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  43. ^ Fontes, Renan (August 4, 2020). "10 Classic NES Games That Still Look Amazing Today". Game Rant. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  44. ^ Kohler, Chris (July 30, 2014). "The 8 Best Sprites in Videogame History". Wired. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  45. ^ Birch, Nathan (March 24, 2016). "Digital Dark Knight: Ranking The Titles That Prove Batman Is A Video Game Winner". Uproxx. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  46. ^ Soriano, David (July 21, 2015). "Los mejores juegos de Batman". IGN Spain (in Spanish). Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  47. ^ Duval, Nicholas (May 23, 2019). "Batman: Every Video Game From Worst To Best, Officially Ranked". The Things. Retrieved September 17, 2020.