You know, with Akrham Origins coming this year, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the great Batman games over the years. Batman and video games don’t always go together. Sometimes you get games like Batman Forever for the SNES or some of the Batman games on the Gamecube. But sometimes, DC and various developers don’t just strike gold with the games they make, they make great games that will not be forgotten because holy crap are these great. Like I mean, really, really great. So with that said, this is just my opinion, about games I grew up playing. Now we all know what number one is going to be, so let’s all just relax and see the other four picks before we get to it.
Number 5: The Adventures Batman and Robin (SNES)
Based on the the animated series, this was a game that was released on two different consoles, and they were two different games as a result. The one for the genesis wasn’t that great and I didn’t play it very much, from memory, but oh boy, did I love the SNES one. Combing platforming and some beat em up, this game was a lot of fun. What surprises me is that I went back and popped this game into my SNES recently and it still looks great. The animation is silky smooth, it feels satisfying to beat up bad guys, and it looks just like the cartoon. The boss fights weren’t entirely straight forward, but I felt like that added to them, like you had to figure out how to fight these ridiculous bosses at the end of the level. You couldn’t just beat them to death like you were playing something like Final Fight, or Streets of Rage. It really felt like you were in the cartoon, and I loved it. I mean there’s not much depth to the game beyond that, hey, it comes with the beat ’em up genre, and it’s oh so satisfying.
Number 4: Batman Returns (SNES)
What can I say? Sega’s ‘Does what Nintendon’t’ campaign didn’t convince me when I compared Batman Returns for the Genesis and the SNES. The SNES one is far superior and one of the best hidden beat ’em ups for the Super Nintendo. In this game, you smashed people as brutally as the Dark Knight did in the much darker Burton take on Batman for his sequel. You had your option of weapons not unlike Castlevania and their sub weapon system. You could pick people up, smash them into glass windows, and otherwise brutalize criminals. It also came with an awesome section with a Batmobile chase, and 16-bit version of Danny Elfman’s music from the movie! There were some 3D sections to the game as well, using the most power out of the SNES it could muster, like Star Fox or F-Zero. If you love classic beat em ups and want something a little more brutal and realistic then the Adventures of Batman and Robin, then this is really what you want.
Number 3: Lego Batman (Wii)
I would have put Lego Batman 2 on this list, but I feel like that would be cheating since that’s much more of a Justice League game then it is a Batman game despite the title. No matter how old I get, I won’t stop loving Legos or Batman, and so when you combine the two, you don’t just get a winning combination, you get an amazing winning combination. I could honestly spend an entire article on this game based on how much fun is it, but I’ll try to summarize why I love it in just a few sentences. It’s chiefly a problem solving game with some beat em up aspects to it, of which you are now probably seeing a pattern because of my love of the Beat em up genre. This is also the only real co-op game on my list, because you can play as Batman and a friend can be Robin, not to mention all the awesome costumes and characters you can unlock beyond the two.Also, it allows for cartoony hyper violence because everything is made of Legos, so Batman doesn’t need to hold back, unleashing the pint sized Dark Knight’s full martial prowess. Honestly, nothing I can say can do justice to how much fun the game is with it’s creativeness, it’s wonderful use of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, and the charm that all the Lego games have. DC and Lego teaming up should be a thing that always happens from now.
Number 2: Batman (NES)
For most of my twenty plus years alive, Batman for the NES was my favorite Batman game, and the game on this list I probably have played the most. It was made by Sunsoft, who you might know and love for their other movie licensed games, or some classics like After Burner, Lemmings, or the Blaster Master series. This is also the hardest game on this list, and holy crap, is it hard. It plays something like Ninja Gaiden, where you can cling to walls, as well as a variety of weapons. With your gear, your wits, and your reflexes, you make your way to the climatic battle with the Joker who is an insanely tough boss to take down as befitting someone like the Clown Prince of Crime. Batman for NES was my favorite game for a multitude of reasons. It’s one of the best platformer of that entire generation of games, it’s got an amazingly stylish look to it, dark and colorful, and it’s soundtrack is beyond awesome. The difficulty was pretty out of this world, so I never beat it until I was older, but I can still pop this sucker in and enjoy it. It’s aged like fine wine. In a lot of ways, this was the benchmark for all other Batman games to follow, since this was the first licensed game, and perhaps the greatest. Until…
Number 1: Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City (PC)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know you’re all like, ‘Well duh’. It goes without saying that the best Batman games made are the fantastically done Batman Arkham series games, and picking between the two is like picking which arm I’d like to be chopped off, because both are fairly different. Arkham Asylum feels much more claustrophobic like Batman is truly on his own, in a dangerous situation Stealth is far more preferred here then it is in the sequel, because you don’t have much place to run. Compare this with Arkham City, which is far more free roaming, has more characters to pick and choose from and the idea that Batman is back in his element. This is Batman in Gotham City, or at least a section of it that’ s been walled off, and Gotham City belongs to the Batman. You can fly through the city with your grappling hook and prey on the cowardly and superstitious criminals but direct combat is almost always the answer in this game. In a way, the two games really feel like two halves of the same whole, both of them being part of one long story as we see the battle between Joker and Batman reach new highs. The controls are tight, the voice acting is top notch, and it really feels like you’re The Batman, and that no matter what gets thrown at you, you can handle it because you’re The Batman. I can’t pick between the two. Some would say that Arkham City is superior, and others will tell you Asylum’s tighter more stealth based game play is preferable in a Batman game, but despite that, these are both two of the best games made period in the Dark Knight’s history.
So that’s it for my five favorite Batman games. What about yours?