NES

It is a fairly well known fact that movie/TV show based video games are almost exclusively garbage. Rarely did a blockbuster movie, or hit TV show have a videogame counterpart that could match the quality (such as is was) or popularity of the source material.

Due mainly to the popularity of the console and the formative era in which it was released, the movie/TV show videogame came to prominence on the Nintendo Entertainment System- for better, and for worse.

Genuine stinkers such as Hunt for the Red October, Total Recall, Platoon, and Terminator gave this genre a bad name at the time, and their lasting reputation has all but turned the genre toxic in the years since. Without question, some of the worst videogames ever made have been based on successful property, churned out by bargain basement developers and greedily pumped out by publishers for the expressed purpose of making an easy buck.

Unfortunately, things certainly have not improved as far as movie/TV show based videogames go. At their best, they are sufficient time wasters clogging supermarket bargain bins. At worst they are broken, ugly experiences that suck precious credibility out of a medium so desperate for artistic recognition.

However, there are some diamonds in this trash heap. Among the dregs of the genre a few choice titles exist that do just the opposite of degrading their medium; they showcase creativity and ingenuity that drives it forward.

Batman for the Nintendo Entertainment System was developed by Sunsoft, who had an amazing streak of videogame wins in the early 90s. Their golden touch with licensed properties shines no more brightly then in their adaptation of Tim Burton's highly stylized 1989 film.

Taking the dark, gritty, and grotesque art deco style straight from the film's superb art direction and translating it brilliantly to the NES, Sunsoft managed to marry gorgeous 8-bit visuals with a highly playable and expertly balanced core.

Basically following the movie's plot (with a few diversion here and there), you play as the dark knight himself, busting up bad guys in the streets of Gotham City. Although you can use your fists freely at anytime, you also collect powerups which act as ammo for your sub weapons, all of which are available from the start of any stage. These sub weapons include a tri-firing projectile,  the batarang, and a short range spear weapon.  Mastery of these unique and radically different sub weapons is paramount in making it to the end of the game.

The chief gameplay mechanic, however, is the wall jump. The levels are designed around this ability, with huge sprawling stages that demand you master the Batman's more acrobatic abilities. Batman contains some of the best 8-bit level design seen outside of a Mega Man game, and in a refreshing design choice (all though now too uncommon at the time), Batman is a very challenging game.

Beyond the excellent game design, Batman features some of the greatest 8-bit music ever composed and the story in not wrought from the manual, like so many other NES games, but rather told in-between levels with superbly crafted cut scenes.

Few licensed-based videogames in the history of the medium as successfully combine the visual style and narrative themes of the source material with honest-to-goodness rock-solid game design and layer-upon-layer of quality slices stuck together expertly.