Continuing Batstravaganza! is Evan Fischer, a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.
The Dark Knight has long been a fan favorite in the world of comics because of his iconoclastic nature; he took a childhood tragedy and turned it into…well…tragedy (for the bad guys). His dark nature and refusal to play nice with authority has long branded him as something of a fallen angel (despite the fact that he wails on the baddies with the best of them).
And although he has been depicted in a number of ways throughout the years across several forms of media (not just in comics, but also through radio shows, televisions series–both live and animated–and movies), his presence in video games truly allows fans to become this masked crusader, at least for a little while. However, not every game has added something useful to the franchise, and there are some that gamers would probably rather forget.
That said, there are just a few that turned out better than the rest.
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
Most gamers will agree that this is hands-down the best addition to the franchise yet (although the follow up, Batman: Arkham City is pretty amazing, as well). Developer Eidos teamed up with Warner Bros. (owners of the movie franchise) to create a game that was true to the canon, and the use of talented and experienced voice actors from the DC Animated Universe (namely Kevin Conroy as the Dark Knight and Mark Hamill as the Joker) probably didn’t hurt. The result was a highly-rated game that offered players a well-planned storyline, third-person gameplay with plenty of options for movement and weapons, an interactive environment, and free-flow combat that let players decide how battles would go.
Batman: Return of the Joker (1991)
This follow-up to 1990’s NES game, simply titled Batman, has the hero going a bit batty when his main nemesis, the Joker, escapes from Arkham Asylum. The side-scrolling gameplay was typical of the time, but the fantastic graphics were anything but average. And the use of projectiles rather than the standard pow-style punches was a hoot.
Batman Begins (2005)
The movie franchise got a reboot with visionary director Christopher Nolan at the helm and deep-voiced Christian Bale as Batman, and EA delivered a game based on the movie (with the lead actor on board for voice work). Although there are some snags (not much in the way of interactive environments) the production value offers excellent graphics and there are several fighting and driving sequences that provide for fun gameplay and make this more than just another movie tie-in.
Adventures of Batman and Robin (1994)
This arcade style game for the Sega Genesis has the titular bat and his sidekick battling foes in a side-scrolling setting (no stunning 3D spaces in this throwback to a now defunct system). Interestingly, this title was created by two different companies at the time of release; Sega did the version for their own console while Konami was tapped to do the version for the Super NES, and the games came out a bit different. There are several reasons that some franchise fans and hard-core gamers prefer Sega’s iteration, including two-player functionality, shooter-style gameplay, and a level of difficulty that meant not everyone could work their way through. Of course, this departure also turned off some players.
Lego Batman (2008)
You might think this offering falls under the category of kid’s games (for gamers that are content to play Barbie and truck games 365 days a year). But getting hung up on the particulars (characters comprised of the titular blocks) would be a mistake. The Lego tropes actually provide for some humorous moments, but the best part of this game is that you collect characters as you go. So once you complete the game and head into free-play mode you can use villains to unlock objects that were off limits during your first run-through, providing additional gameplay opportunities. Been there and done that? Try the recently released Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
Don’t see your favorite Batman video game? Sound off in the comments and let us know why it’s awesome!
I would have put Arkham City above Arkham Asylum. I think the DLC for Arkham City is far more immersive than Arkham Asylum, especially in expanding the individual stories of the characters. Also, I work in a video game store, and Arkham City has become the standard for comparison for most of my customers. They ask if a new game is better or worse than Arkham City more often than any other game.
But that’s just my opinion. I was glad to see the Genesis version of Batman and Robin make the cut- I logged quite a few hours on that as a kid.
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