I know now, after completing Bats and Terry, that it is based off a manga of the same name. However, that didn’t help it make anymore sense. Instead it’s everybody’s favorite Purgatory Loop: Bats and Terry vs the Dragons of their Inner Hell.
Where am I and why is there a ladder heading nowhere
Bats and Terry is a platformer on the Famicom where you initially control…Bats? Terry? Not sure, but he throws baseballs and doesn’t care what you throw back at him. You run, moonjump and throw baseballs at two different angles to take out enemies. You can collect POW blocks that make the baseballs stronger, and hearts, that don’t do anything. Your health bar is tied directly to how many enemies you defeat. Get hit, lose 1HP, kill an enemy, gain 1HP. Bats is basically a baseball vampire, stealing life from others. If you lose all your HP you turn into the other character, who wields a baseball bat and attacks close range. He can bat projectiles back at enemies but is overall inferior to the baseball chucking hero.
There are a number of worlds that you progress through linearly. There’s a time limit and the same levels repeat over and over throughout the worlds with only minor changes to them to make them slightly more difficult. There are a variety of different enemies, but behaviorally they are all the same: walk and maybe shoot at you. There are only two boss types and they fire a bunch of fireballs at you and are super easy to beat.
Uh…thank you everybody?
The game pretty much makes zero sense. The platforms are arranged in ways that are akin to basic MacOS games of old, just blocks floating in random places and assets put around with no thought. The enemies range from swagger gods, to punks, to super unimpressed monkeys, tiny men in tiny cars, daft punk, dragons, disembodied heads, skeletons, generic schoolgirls and more. The levels range from what looks like a P.O.W. camp or run down warehouse district, a bamboo forest that suddenly becomes part desert, a dark grey castle/base, a hellish cave with “Dragon” signs, a mountain, the inside of some abandoned warehouse that suddenly turns into an ancient temple? and a straight run across some clouds.
The constantly repeating but deteriorating levels, the bizarre enemies, along with the constant appearance of the dragons, make the game feel like you’re in some weird dimension, doomed to repeat your journey over and over. It’s made even weirder from when you beat a level, you walk to some shack that is either in good shape or run-down. When you beat a world, you walk by a cheering crowd to a race goal banner. Like, is any of this real? Is it a test? Are we dead? What in god’s name is going on? Why am I fighting all these things with baseballs?
The characters have super floaty jumps that can be super extended by pressing shoot+jump at the same time. I thought it was a bug at first, launching myself like a superhero, but there are sections in the game where it’s necessary to progress making me think it was intentional. The characters have huge troubles with vines and ladders, as they still have horizontal movement on them and the vertical grab point is super narrow, causing them to slip and scramble comically all over the damn ladder or vine like it was buttered up by the baddies.
Am I in Hell?
Eventually you reach the last world, which is the same as all worlds, but after you beat the dragons and head to the final goal post, a fuckin HUGE dude (like 3x your size) in a trenchcoat busts from the bushes and attacks you by Vince McMahon walking at you and chucking things. He goes down as easily as anything else in the game, and beating him wins you the game. O-…okay!
What a big boy
The end shows a picture of Bats and Terry (still don’t know who is who), and some girl who never shows up anywhere else, unless that’s the enemy type you see sometimes. The text reads that Bats and Terry won Dragon Army’s Challenge(?!), and saved the school from being wrapped in darkness. But the Dragon(s) may one day return to consumed the school in darkness again. And the big dude was some guy who let his fear get the best of him or whatever.
The so-called official story still doesn’t help make sense of anything, like why is a school being consumed by a Dragon Army and why does it take a transforming hero throwing baseballs to stop him, but it’s cool that the Dragon Army has monkeys and daft punk in it.
The chick’s expression is how I feel about this game.
The level repetition, meh music, simple enemy types, the game is pretty easy, if dull. However, the absurdity of it, as well as some of the hilarious enemies and animations make it worth a quick go I think. This makes me curious about the manga, because nothing I read on it makes me think it was about freakin’ dragons and shit, but who knows. The 80’s were wild.
UPDATE: So apparently it was based on an anime movie based on the manga, about a race through demon world. Oookay then.