Monday, October 3, 2011

Ultra Review Roundtable: Super Bat Puncher (NES Homebrew)

Ed.:  The Ultra Review Roundtable reconvenes once again to take a look at a recent NES homebrew demo -- Super Bat Puncher!  Thanks as always to Hagen Dragmire for the consolidation and editing work.

The official story from the limited release cartridge demo:
"In the distant future, earth is haunted by extraterrestrial bats. They seem to appear out of nowhere, but always come in large numbers, are highly susceptible to shock and tend to explode quickly. As a result, earth's surface has been severely damaged, all major cities have been destroyed and survivors have started to move underground.

After years of research, scientists believe to have found the plague's source. The bats are supposedly coming from a tiny planet in the outer region of a faraway solar system.

The Bat Excommunication and Eradication Force aka BEEF was created. It consists of brave young men in cat suits who are sent to BAT PLANET with the mission of investigating and, above all, disposing of the threat.

You play as one of the heroes of BEEF."

Super Bat Puncher is an original homebrew game for the NES, developed by Julius Riecke aka Miau and scored by Blitz Lunar. The game has graphics reminiscent of the Cave Story franchise of games which gives it a familiar feel immediately as you begin playing. The story begins as you crash onto Bat Planet and helping out a little bird named Sir Lion on your quest to rid the planet of all things bat. The playable demo is available to download via

Super Bat Puncher plays like your typical platforming action adventure title. With spot on control mechianics, you bounce around the level, jumping and punching everything you see. As you progress through a level, you collect power-ups that not only give you added abilities, but also allow you to progress to places that were previously unreachable. Some of these abilities allow you to accomplish unique feats that feel natural when accomplishing them, which draws you further into the game.

"Super Bat Puncher is frickin' sweet!" -

“Technically impressive, but it’s also a lot of fun to play.” -

A good start to what could be an excellent game.” -

“An amalgam of all the great NES games that have come before it, while still offering new elements to keep things fresh.” -

Mr.Armitage from octanetoys.comFavorite Gaming Peripheral That Is Completely Useless: Sega Activator

A demo game for the NES era? Unfortunately I had to play via emulator so I can't get a true feeling of how it will play on a NES console. For a demo Super Bat Puncher isn't half bad and is reasonably long. It appears to be the first 2 levels and took me about 20 minutes to get through the demo. Right off the bat the game teased a two player co-op option which has me wanting a little more from the game. The graphics are good and there is enough color in the cave setting to offset it being bland. Super Bat Puncher rocks. Someone has put a fair bit of there time and budget into some of the sweetest sounds in a NES game. I bet the 25 years since the system came out has helped this. So the soundtrack is excellent.

The game is fairly easy to just pick up and play. It does remind me of Metroid because of the upgrade abilities to supplement the game play. It also appears there are parts of the levels that are out of your reach that would allow you to get there if only you had a wall grab. Unfortunately the enemies have little to no AI and just go in a pattern, which left me wondering why I needed to hit them when most of the time could just run under them. Although I can see the difficulty factor increasing on the bosses of the levels, plus a new enemy being added in subsequent levels, this again makes me want to play the full game to see where it goes.

The demo does leave questions like: Why am I collecting coins and what is the fascination with meat in the game? But overall it is a good start to what could be an excellent game.

4 Pooping Birds out of 5

NintendoLegend from
Favorite Gaming Peripheral That Is Completely Useless: That plastic Mouse Pad that came with Wacky Worlds on the Sega Genesis

To summarize: Super Bat Puncher is frickin' sweet.

In the classic tradition of Capcom, in the traditional spirit of the legendary platformers of yore, comes Super Bat Puncher -- a homebrew effort that deserves a lot of credit, and frankly, is very well-done. Rather than settle for a "simple" puzzle simulation, or a palette-swapped version of another title as other homebrews have done, Bat Puncher brings an original, innovative adventure to the retro-style gaming table.

Without spoiling too much (seriously, 8-bit fans should check it out themselves and support it), suffice to say, Super Bat Puncher is a side-scrolling platformer that operates at an action-packed fast pace. Sporting features such as ability upgrades, NPC (or second player character...) interaction, on-screen text dialogue, precision-jumping puzzles, and tons of creative little bits (Sir Loin, the punch-a-wall-to-fly-away-from-it style, dynamic blob creatures). The game sounds professional, looks spectacular... it's really good. Just, yeah. For me, it has echoes of Batman (ironically enough) and Little Samson.

Oh, and you really do get to punch a lot of bats.

5 Pooping Birds out of 5

Sushi-Xpired from gamingafter40.blogspot.comFavorite Gaming Peripheral That Is Completely Useless: Sega Dreamcast Maracas

“Time was if you called a red-blooded American boy a Super Bat Puncher, he’d lay you out flat with a roundhouse and lasso you up for sex. Not sex, Westerns. I like to watch them old Westerns on the teevee. Gene Autry wanted to call hisself a cow puncher, but he was really just a cowpoke. Ain’t nobody ever seen a game called Super Cow Poker, I betcha.”

Homebrew games are always interesting – they usually arrive long after a system’s commercial heyday, when the hardware’s been thoroughly dissected and some basic programming tools are in the public domain. Usually they’re just programming exercises, the product of someone learning the system, but sometimes they’re impressively polished. Super Bat Puncher is one of the good ones, a really solid “demo” that makes good use of the NES hardware and often pushes it beyond the standards of its era. The musical score is classic 8-bit NES, evocative and varied with some Commodore 64-style rhythms and arpeggio chords. And the sprites are very well-drawn and animated – working within the NES’ block boundaries, the Hello Kitty-esque hero Captain Roast (of BEEF), his bird companion Sir Lion (get it?), and the various enemies they face are full of personality. The bats look slyly out of one eye as Captain Roast approaches, and if he passes them by they switch to the other eye; Captain Roast’s whiskers float up and down in reaction as he jumps, and his black (background-color) eyes cleverly allow him to sport “four” colors instead of the customary three. When he dies, his empty helmet spins and bounces on the ground; even background features like bubble fountains and sparkling highlights move with style and pacing. There’s not a bit of flicker, either, although that may be due in part to the modern emulation technology we depend on to play these non-cartridge games.

The secret at the heart of all game design: The Illusion of Choice

Super Bat Puncher is technically impressive, but it’s also a lot of fun to play. It makes good use of the dated NES controller – one button jumps, the other one punches, but as the game progresses, the hero’s over-sized punching glove becomes a maneuvering tool as well, letting the good Captain knock himself across wide gaps or bounce himself into an invincible rolling form. The levels feature Blaster Master-style portals from one area to another, treasure chests with maneuverability upgrades a la Metroid, and magical sisters to rescue, opening up pathways to additional levels. The controls are precise and solid, and the only area where I felt the gameplay got a little too ambitious for the controller was in the vine-climbing sections – we have to push up on the D-pad to get our hero to grab on to each vine, which became a little bit tricky for my aging reflexes and led to some frustrating setbacks. But that’s a minor quibble – this is an ambitious retro-style game, an honest and slickly-executed appreciation of the best of the 8-bit era.

5 Pooping Birds out of 5

HagenDragmire from
Favorite Gaming Peripheral That Is Completely Useless: Nintendo Power Glove

To say that Super Bat Puncher is a blast from the past wouldn’t quite do the game justice. It seems more like an amalgam of all the great NES games that have come before it, while still offering new elements to keep things fresh and make you wonder why this hasn’t been done before. Just as the title suggests, you do indeed punch bats and this continues to be enjoyable gameplay staple throughout the demo. The enemies are easy to kill; however that is not a bad thing as it makes punching each enemy that much more enjoyable. Let’s just hope that in the final version of the game the enemies start moving a bit faster in latter levels otherwise it might start to feel a little repetitive and easy once you start playing for a prolonged amount of time.

Being a demo, surprisingly the game is packed with a few secrets and an optional co-op mode. The co-op is fun, albeit it almost feels like cheating, almost. The second player gets to control the little bird, Sir Loin, who poops on his prey. Completing the two levels in the demo will allow you to retread your steps and go back into the first level with your gained power-ups. The game developer ingeniously put in a little cut scene after you competed the second level hinting at some kind of powerful weapon to ingeniously encourage replayability. While I don’t want to spoil anything, the secret is great and very worthy of the painstaking quest it entails to get it.

Let Me Just Say That This Was Not Easy...

Overall, Super Bat Puncher was a very enjoyable demo and gives you a lot of content for what it is. Let’s hope that the full version of the game continues to entertain as much as the first two levels do. If it does then we will have a bonafide masterpiece in our hands!

5 Pooping Birds out of 5

Ultra Review Roundtable
Overall Rating

5 Pooping Birds out of 5

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