Review – Bat Boy

Being able to celebrate a truly fantastic game is something that brings around people from all walks of life. We only just cracked the seal on Tears of the Kingdom before the world became awash in Diablo IV, Street Fighter 6, and Farming Simulator 23. Additionally, when a game is utterly awful, people can also commiserate in shared disappointment and shock. The letdown of Gollum, Loop 8, and Toilet Shooting Star brings us together like a horrifying magnet of disturbance. The polarities of either, good or bad, still make the waves that are felt on opposite shores.

But when a game is just okay, it creates a sort of disquiet that verges on uncomfortable. The way that videos and reviews are crafted nowadays you want to see that something is either the best or the worst and nothing in-between. It’s an effect of the Information Age that continues to exacerbate as we grow up constantly surrounded by opinions and influence. There were generations of games that were middling at best but could at least be enjoyed in a tiny corner of the world by people whose parents didn’t know any better. Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg probably wouldn’t even make a ripple if released today, but, back in the GameCube heyday, it charmed me to no end in spite of literally no one else I knew enjoying it.

Bat Boy Platforming

Bat Boy waits patiently to see how the other shoe is about to drop in this review.

Bat Boy is a pixel art adventure platformer with difficult boss fights, hidden areas, and a progression mechanic based around collectibles and also generally powering up. You’re the titular Bat Boy, who is part of an afterschool superhero group that gets sucked into an alternate dimension by a baddie who wants to have a tournament of brainwashed heroes. You manage to deflect being mind controlled with a well swung bat, but your fellow caped teens are not so lucky. You now must embark across multiple biomes to help free your friends, which involves hitting them a lot with bats, and dealing with a wise-cracking bird that follows you every step of the way. Joy.

Bat Boy wears its influences on its sleeve, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a pretty clear nod to the dual factions of the 8-bit era that came before and the retro-inspired revolution of today. The Mega Man facets are everywhere, from the level designs to the power ups that come from defeating the bosses. There’s also a lot of Shovel Knight all over the game, from the offbeat weapons to the tongue-in-cheek humor that permeates throughout. These two ideas come together to form the basis of this trip down memory lane for the first time. There’s so much that puts it firmly in the NES mindframe, but also plenty that keeps it contemporary.

Bat Boy Groovy House

Sadly, no warp whistle was found to take me to another area.

For what it’s worth, Bat Boy does a solid job of making sure that what it does uniquely it does well. As our hero is in constant possession of a baseball bat, it was vital to utilize this to the extreme in each and every level. Enemies throwing balls? Hit them back! Projectiles firing from a door? HIT THEM BACK! Random switch out of the way? Wait for an enemy or door to shoot something at you, THEN HIT IT BACK (but at the switch). You’ve successfully gotten the memo that you are Bat Boy, and thus must bat as though your life depended on it. The end result is making sure the emphasis on all things bat – baseball adjacent enemies, spinning bat tricks, smooth batting animation – is the top priority throughout.

Bat Boy Garou

Oh Garou, the talking bird, you’re always filled with quips that definitely don’t make me want to beat you to death.

This, however, can hamper a bit of the expanding powers system. Each boss/friend allows you access to something new from their powers, like an extending vine to grab things or casting a bubble shield to give you oxygen and grant temporarily invincibility (seriously temporary, don’t bank on it). These powers all pull from the same energy pool, which is a fixed number of uses that can be recharged through pickups and checkpoints. This also means that, as the game progresses, you now have a bevy of abilities with incredibly limited uses. What does it matter if you can choose between a midair dash or an invulnerable ground dash when you can only do either a total of three times? Finding collectibles can expand the number of times, but it’s a grindy process to ferret them out enough to make things worthwhile.


Finding hard to reach merchants to not afford what they’re selling: priceless.

This also segues into another issue I had with Bat Boy, which was the controls. In an effort to keep the game “classic but contemporary,” the developers attempted to keep in all these fantastic extras without needing to toggle or exchange them. Which meant binding them to any number of combinations of buttons for execution. So LB does one thing, but LB plus the up arrow does another, and you can switch your bat with X but X plus down means something else…it’s not difficult to memorize everything you need to do, but they overlap and can muddle. Moreover, some of them directly interfere with natural movement and actions, so you’ll find yourself unleashing a move that a.) does nothing and b.) depletes a precious action energy, which is exceedingly frustrating.

Bat Boy has a bevy of piggy based enemies. Of all the things that I positively love in a game, it’s adorable and unique mobs, and there’s a parade of piglets in all sorts of outfits throughout, and they are cute. You’ve got ninja pigs, samurai pigs, rhythmic gymnastic pigs, dark magician pigs, pirate pigs…it’s just a smorgasbord of swine and I couldn’t have been happier. My daughter was also thrilled so that made it slightly hard to keep bashing these critters over the head, but she understood they were naughty. The enemies also, with all their excellent design, almost made the bosses seem plain in comparison. I get it, you’re an anime girl who sort of turns into a shark during your combat. Pretty basic compared to pigs who look like they might work at Johnny Rocket.

Bat Boy Enemies

Look at everything happening here. This is awesome and should be even more awesome in reality.

You’ve got underwater levels, pirate ships, Japanese villages, underground lairs, and more: we run the gamut when it comes to level areas, and the variety almost helps to balance how short everything is. You barely get a taste of what’s in store in different places before you’re suddenly whisked away, done with that and onto the next one. Sure, you could go back in and access spots you couldn’t before once more powers are unlocked, but…I never really felt compelled to do so. There came a point where I was going through the motions and seeing everything that was available like I was doing a loop around Epcot. Sure, it’s cool to see little glimpses of each country, but I’m not stopping unless I’m a parent who desperately needs a drink and I can now justify a margarita for eighteen dollars in a facsimile of Mexico.

Boss fights are simply okay. I’m not crapping on them, but they just kind of exist and then are done. Bat Boy wants to throw everything at you without making it too difficult, and the results are the same. You’ve got a boss with a few attack patterns, you get down their health, now they’re in a stronger stage and do the same attack patterns but moreso. It’s got a difficulty edge to it, certainly, and it’s either going to be overcome with lightning reflexes and adaptation or, like me, dying until you identify the patterns and then pushing through. It makes the game go on a bit longer, but not drastically so. It does make it so the banter and dialogue from each fight (starts with taunting, ends with apologizing for being brainwashed) easy to digest and skippable once you’re all set.

Bat Boy Starlet Twirl

Oh, the pretty character is also vain. We have truly broken new ground.

I’m never going to go into a Burger King and demand different fries to go with my Whopper. That would be classless and just an insane ask. But, when pressed about my favorite fast food fries, I’m going to lean towards other places – Wendy’s, In-N-Out, even McDonald’s – for what’s off the top of my head. Someone asks me about BK, and I’ll shrug and say “they’re fine.” That, tragically, is where my opinion falls with Bat Boy. There’s nothing terrible about this game, not by a long shot; it’s polished, tight, and I sincerely love the enemies and overall design. But I doubt I’ll play it again. I didn’t care about the lore, I was bored by the bosses, and I couldn’t pick a chiptune track out of a lineup. If there’s DLC, it would be contingent on if I remembered owning this game in the first place.

Let players who enjoy the indies find this game and have a good weekend with it. Let people who backed it on Kickstarter sing its praises and argue with other fans about who the real villain is. Let it exist in the same realm where I still hold Robotrek as one of my favorite RPGs ever. But, for me, Bat Boy has taken its last swing.


Graphics: 8.5

Fantastic enemy composition, decent level design, muddy boss creations with recognizable, but ultimately boring portraits. 

Gameplay: 7.0

The games builds well on creating more complex levels and ideas, and utilization of additional abilities is contingent on either carefully rationing powers or grinding to unlock more power slots. Combat is very by-the-books, and platforming can be challenging but not impossible.

Sound: 6.0

There was definitely music, it was probably okay, but all I keep hearing is the soundtrack to Mega Man IV and I know that wasn’t the score that was playing.

Fun Factor: 5.0

Like my parents rented a game from Hollywood Video instead of getting me a babysitter while they went out for dinner. It kept my attention for a few hours but I don’t know if I would have played it otherwise.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Bat Boy is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Bat Boy was provided by the publisher.