Darkman for the NES – A Look Back – By Danny Runion

Once again, I delve into the forgotten realm of video games from many
moons ago. Most people would think no Sam Raimi movie was adapted into
a video game until either Evil Dead or Spiderman. Unfortunately, they would be wrong. The Nintendo had quite a repertoire of movie and television adaptations all the way from
Alien 3 to the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

This may be the only Nintendo game that has a storyline featuring an
8-bit approximation of Liam Neeson. It gives a fairly decent recap
without mentioning his lab being destroyed and him being hideously
disfigured before seeking revenge on those who ruined his life.

This is the only game that features a bandaged bloody hand as a pointer on the start screen.

Level 1 of Darkman is very reminiscent of Batman. Darkman must jump from numerous platforms. For as simple as it seems, this is one of the toughest levels of any
Nintendo game except maybe for the Transformers.
If you have the game genies codes for infinite lives, it would be a lot
easier. One misstep starts you off at the beginning of the sublevel.

Level 2 has Darkman disguised as the baseball bat wielding Paulie
battling the villains in Central Park. However, he can either pick up
hand grenades or acorns to kill his enemies. Who knew Central Park had
logging saw mills and killer piranhas, too?

Higher levels have Darkman disguised. He also is able to use various
weapons. The game has 5 levels: the sewers, Central Park, Chinatown, a
funhouse, and a partially constructed building for the climactic final
level.

Between the levels, a challenge stage is placed. You must take pictures
of your enemies to be able to construct masks of them which will be
used later. Darkman is hanging from a rope and must dodge oncoming
traffic.

Most of the levels are as accurate to the movie if you ignore the
killer mini-robots. Starting with level 2, Darkman disguises himself as
villains. However, I must have missed the scene in the movie that has a
disguised Darkman battling ninjas in Chinatown?!??

Instead of the normal timer like in Super Mario Brothers,
we get the drinking bird with the bobbing head on some of the levels.
If you don’t know where the drinking bird comes from, obviously, you
haven’t seen Darkman. In the movie, the computer would feature
a rotating picture of the head. However, do we really need to have a
disembodied rotating head at the top of the screen?

The controls are awfully hard to master. They are almost as bad as Texas Chainsaw Massacre
for the Atari 2600. In fact, the hit detection is very awkward about
half the punches don’t connect when hitting the villains. The edge
detection on a platform is about as pad as the hit connection. When
playing, I managed to fall off even though I was on a solid platform.
This may be the toughest 8-bit Nintendo game for jumping. If that isn’t
bad enough, you can’t even jump over the enemy. Darkman even has worse
jumping ability when he is in disguise.

The enemies are the typical disposable goons of the side scrollers.
These guys are the slightly more successful older brothers of the gang
members from Double Dragon.
A few well placed punches will care of these malefactors. Those well
placed punches are harder to deliver when being pummeled by rejects
from the Fashion Court.

The idea of a lone hero battling his way through various enemies until
ultimately battling the overlord who caused his suffering isn’t a novel
concept. However, Nintendo never adapted either of the sequels Darkman 2: Revenge of Durant or Darkman 3: Die Darkman Die.
Both of those movies weren’t released until Nintendo was promoting the
Super Nintendo and was phasing out the 8-bit Nintendo. Even if they had
been released, Nintendo never released a video game based on a direct
to video movie. Plenty more material existed from other theatrical
releases and television shows for that matter.

After losing his last life, Darkman is filled with rage from his
failure. This isn’t to ridicule the player but to justify how to
continue the game. It does seem appropriate as a way for Darkman’s rage
to keep him going. If you look at his right eye, you can see the single
tear running down his bandaged face. Whether the tear is of rage or
from losing an extremely frustrating game, our bandaged clad super
strong scientist doesn’t reveal.