Batman has long been a fixture in the world of video games, and his popularity has never been greater. In September 2011 the Video Game Critic teamed up with Batman Notes with one goal in mind: To create the ultimate Batman video game retrospective. To facilitate this collaboration the Chief editor of Batman Notes was flown into the VGC corporate headquarters where he and the Critic extensively evaluated 25 Batman games in what could be called a legitimate video game marathon.
In addition to fine-tuning old reviews, each game has been assigned a "Bat-O-Meter" rating indicating how faithful the game is to the film or animation series it's based upon. Critical factors include graphic style, music, cinematics, and attention to detail. Enjoy!
My original assessment of Batman was heavily influenced by my buddy Eric who is a Batman expert. He claimed it didn't feel like a Batman game and he has a valid point. It doesn't follow the movie's storyline or use its classic musical score. The wall-jumping, ninja-fighting gameplay is a lot like Ninja Gaiden (Tecmo, 1989). But there's still a lot to like about this game. The cut-scenes will get you pumped, especially those showing the amazing Batmobile on the move. The soundtrack is memorable and the graphics are artistic. Those green and purple accents on shadowy gothic scenery are very easy on the eyes.
Batman himself is small but responsive. He can punch rapidly, fire projectiles, and wall-jump his way up tall structures. Holding in the jump button results in longer leaps, but sometimes you need to let off a little (like when there's an electric barrier overhead). The control scheme could be better. Pressing the select button pauses the game and also displays your lives and score. I would prefer those to be displayed at all times. Pressing the start button lets you select weapons including a gun, batarang, three-way shot, or at bare minimum your fists. If you find yourself in a tight spot with the wrong weapon, this interface is flat-out clumsy.
The stage designs are fair but you're not rewarded for taking chances by venturing off the main path. Later levels are less-imaginative girder and pipe labyrinths. Certain levels have roving bombs you can't destroy, and the electrified walls are a pain in the ass. In some cases you have to fall off a platform, grasp it from the side, and vault off of it. I'm pretty sure that's physically impossible to perform in real life. Likewise you can fall the "wrong way" when hit. Still, the controls are responsive and you get a little further with each play. Batman has its quirks but they probably won't prevent you from playing it over and over again.
Batman Notes says: The generic stages and music bear little resemblance to the film.
There's a nice variety of circus goons to beat the crap out of, and your punches send them flying off the screen (sometimes in the wrong direction!). Enemies come in several varieties including acrobats, flame-blowers, motorcycle riders, and clowns on stilts. You can punch, guard, and slide-kick, but the jump-kick is probably your best all-around move. Pressing both buttons unleashes a very effective spin attack at the cost of a sliver of health. The fighting action gets a little monotonous as enemies attack in predictable patterns and sometimes linger where you can't quite reach them.
When the game tries to get creative, the results are mixed. In one perilous stage you're forced to hop between floating blocks in an electrified pool while clowns shoot at you from the sides. I hate it when that happens! In another stage you're fighting on slanted rooftops and slipping off the entire time! I did like the part with the bomb-dropping toy helicopters in the department store, which you'll need to knock down with your grappling hook.
Driving stages provide some high-speed thrills, and it looks funny when thugs try to hang onto your car. Bosses include the Catwoman and Penguin, and to defeat them you'll need to stock up on special weapons like Batarangs, Batdiscs, and test tubes. Batman Returns has a somewhat understated holiday theme that includes some snowy scenery, gift boxes, and a lighted Christmas tree in one scene. The background music consists of catchy tunes that immediately transport you back to the 8-bit era.
The difficulty is a problem. You begin with only a fraction of your life bar and hearts are hard to come by. Passwords and continues are available, but they start you back a lot further than you would expect. Batman Returns is a sharp-looking game with a holiday flair, but it's arguably more enjoyable when played with a cheat code.
Batman Notes says: Retains many elements from the film, as well as the dark atmosphere. Unfortunately the elements don't add up to make a complete Batman experience.
Instead of punching and kicking, Batman uses his "wrist projector" to fire various types of projectiles. The crossbow arrow default weapon is pretty effective, and power-ups can upgrade you to multi-shot "darts" and guided Batarangs. After collecting several "capsules", Batman turns gold and becomes temporarily invincible, unleashing a torrent of Batarangs all over the place. The exhilarating shooting action gives the game a Metroid or Turrican flavor, and there's even a jet-pack stage that plays like a space shooter.
Return of the Joker never lives up to its potential however due to cheap hits, unfair stage designs (hidden dangers), and lousy collision detection (overlapping with enemies). You can overcome these issues in the early stage, but by stage three the situation comes to a head. This snowy stage is easy on the eyes with its snowy landscape and starry night sky, but the difficulty is nearly impossible as missiles rain from the sky and bad guys knock you off of icy ledges.
The intense shooting action that was such a hoot in the first two levels takes a back seat to simply trying not to fall off of the screen. The game offers continues but no score. I find it amusing how the pause screen displays "PAUSE!" like it's something to get excited about. Return of the Joker could have been a nice twist on the standard Batman formula, but these stages are so evil they may as well have been designed by the Joker himself.
Batman Notes says: Substandard game with a Batman license slapped on it.
Using your Bat-a-rang to defeat the Penguin's lackeys is fun. You'll take down bomb-tossing acrobats, trigger-shy bozos, and fat rolling clowns. You'll battle through the streets of Gotham, Shreck's department store, and the rooftops before descending into the sewers. Swinging between platforms with your grappling hook is an integral part of the game, but the controls are absolutely abysmal. Sometimes you can pull yourself up onto a higher ledge, and sometimes you can't. All too often you'll just plunge into the abyss. Touching a villain means instant death, and even touching a parked truck is fatal! C'mon now!
In the department store clowns spring out from any door you approach, so keep your distance. Collecting bat-shaped icons let you improve your speed, increase your Bat-a-rang damage, or earn a new life. The best part of the game is how each stage offers two routes to choose from. I like how this adds challenge and variety, but Eric was not impressed. The game has no score and no password. Batman Returns isn't a bad-looking game but its clumsy controls and one-hit deaths prove a lethal combination.
Batman Notes says: Playing Batman Returns for the Sega Master System instead of Sega Genesis is like watching the movie on VHS SLP instead of Blu-ray. All the elements are there, but it's not as enjoyable.
Batman's graphics have an old-school charm. The small characters have black outlines, and the thugs all basically look (and dress) the same. It's amusing to watch the bad guys "evolve" as you progress through the stages. They're easy targets in the beginning, but eventually "learn" how to shoot, then to crouch, and eventually they're flipping all over the place. One of the bosses is named "Bob the Goon", which my buddy Eric and I always found to be pretty hilarious.
Batman's tight controls allow you to punch, kick, toss Batarangs, and hoist yourself up to higher ledges using your grappling hook. You have a limited number of Batarangs, and if you can save them for the bosses, it'll make your life a lot easier. Batman's audio features a generic soundtrack, and the sound effects are minimal.
You won't find many surprises in the platform action, but the driving and flying sequences are a real treat. Actually they play more like side-scrolling shooters. In the Batmobile, you mow down cars, vans, and tanks on the road, while the Batwing stage lets you shoot down helicopters and balloons. I especially love those heat-seeking missiles, which effectively slice through several vehicles at a time. Batman for the Genesis may not be a showcase title for the system, but in terms of pure fun, it's hard to beat.
Batman Notes says: Music not from the film but like how stages follow the storyline. Very cool how Jack Napier falls into the vat of chemicals.
Our caped crusader looks particularly sharp, and he struts around with some serious attitude. With a utility belt at his disposal, he can toss bombs, hurl heat-seeking Bat-a-rangs, unleash swarms of bats, and swing from his grappling hook. The controls are not easy to grasp, and even 20 years later I find myself leafing through the manual. Even those who master the controls will fall prey to many cheap, unavoidable hits.
Batman Returns is a relentless game with a substantial learning curve. Jesters and gargoyles lurch from the scenery, and when defeated they go up in a puff of smoke accompanied by a truly irritating sound effect. Machine-gun-toting clowns on unicycles terrorize you to no end, and there are traps that are partly obstructed from view. It's not for the weak of heart, but the designers did a good job of evoking the dark, gothic atmosphere of the film. The moody soundtrack gets under your skin and the grainy graphics just add to the dilapidated look of the buildings.
The punch-and-jump action is genuinely fun despite checkpoints that sometimes force you to restart an entire level (gah!). Your life meter is replenished whenever you complete a stage, so at least you have that going for you. The digitized cut-scenes are a real treat. Arcade-minded gamers will probably gravitate toward the better-looking SNES version, but this Batman Returns may have the edge when it comes to that all-important "fun factor".
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: Nicely retains the gothic atmosphere of the movie. Super fun game to play through.
Batman is poorly proportioned and looks more like a little kid in a cheap Halloween costume. The first stage places Batman on a rooftop with factories bellowing red and blue "smoke" in the distance. Revenge of the Joker is more of a platform shooter than a side-scrolling fighter, as our hero is armed with all sorts of projectile weapons.
As Batman forges through cities, sewers, snowy mountains, and jungles, he'll face a lot of Rambo-types with machine guns and rocket launchers. But these foes are nothing compared to the technical issues you'll need to contend with. It seems like all the flaws from the NES game have been magnified in this version. Cheap hits are the order of the day and the touchy jumping controls are awful. The collision detection is deplorable! You'll take hits from spiked balls that don't even come close to touching you.
The moving platforms in stage two completely blend into the surroundings, the falling "meteors" in the third stage are super cheap. Even the music sucks. There's no score, but there are unlimited continues. Revenge of the Joker is pretty bad on all counts, with its only redeeming feature being that it makes the NES version look respectable. It's hard to believe that Sunsoft, who produced so many quality side-scrollers for the Genesis (including the first Batman) could botch this one so badly.
Batman Notes says: Trash!
The game feels like an awkward attempt to fuse platform action with a second-rate Mortal Kombat engine. Batman Forever is practically unplayable, largely due to its deplorable control scheme. Outside of simple jumps, blocks, and punches, executing any move requires a complicated series of button presses! Considering the game supports the six-button controller, this is unforgivable. Even simple moves like tossing a Batarang, performing a leg sweep, or falling into a hole are inordinately difficult!
In the first stage, I had to pull myself through a hole in the ceiling, and it took me a good ten minutes to figure out how (and I'm still not sure how I did it). Later, I had to drop down through a hole in the floor - a no-brainer in most games. But incredibly, it took several minutes of button mashing to do it (the manual is worthless). The stage design is equally appalling, with doorways that magically become unblocked on one level after you defeat a group of thugs on another. In one instance, I walked behind a wall, and found myself staring at total blackness, unable to determine what was blocking my progress.
Fighting each character is like a short game of Mortal Kombat minus the fun. The bad guys sport un-intimidating names like "Mad Dan" and "Billy", and each has a long life meter. Batman Forever does give you the opportunity to play as Batman or Robin, but Robin looks like he's wearing a cheap costume. Two people can play at once, but it's too awkward due to the size of the characters and the fact that you can't walk past each other (somebody's always in the way). And while the characters look sharp and colorful, the rest of the presentation is lousy. The backgrounds look boring and hand-drawn. Couldn't they have digitized some sets from the film?
The music is not good, and the voice synthesis is horrendous. After listening to a clip, it'll take you a good 10 seconds to figure out what the heck the static you just heard was trying to say. The game's box has the gall to claim the game has "over 80 stages" and "over 125 moves". Even if that dubious claim were true, I doubt any gamer would have the patience to see them all. Batman Forever was widely heralded as the "worst game of 1995" by magazines of the time. In my book, it's the worst Genesis title ever.
Batman Notes says: Who are these people that I'm supposed to be fighting?! And who is that in the cheap replica Robin costume? He's certainly not Dick Grayson!
No matter how much damage you inflict, the bad guys keep coming in droves. It feels like you're beating up the same thugs over and over - there must be thousands of them! You'd think that having a partner would help, but in that case the game just throws twice as many thugs your way! Enough already! Had Sega cut the number of villains in half, this would have been a lot better. Still, it's great when you find a skull icon which instantly obliterates every enemy on the screen.
The obligatory end-of-stage bosses have life meters that slowly count down from 100, which takes forever. The game is tough and the power-up system is confusing. You can try to play for score, but your score is removed the instant you lose your final life. Buried in this game are many classic Batman foes including the Joker, the Mad Hatter, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze. The stylish graphics are attractive, with small but well-defined characters and varied scenery. Clever details include alley cats jumping out of trash cans and crooks that get their hats knocked off.
With the exception of the obligatory elevator stage (snore), there's plenty to see - especially in the Mad Hatter's Alice In Wonderland-inspired level. Accompanying the action is an intense, pulsating musical score. There's no password option, just six continues. It's a solid action game at its core, but Adventures of Batman and Robin could have used some fine-tuning. My friend Eric and I used an invincibility cheat to beat the game, and it still felt like an ordeal! Despite my complaints however, I do find myself playing this one quite a bit.
Batman Notes says: Faithful to the animation series, although the frantic pace makes it hard to enjoy the graphics. Love the Harley Quinn appearances!
The game opens with six (six!) driving stages. Viewing the action from behind your Batmobile, the road smoothly undulates as enemy vehicles scale in from the distance. The gothic, industrial scenery is terrific, offering a "winter wonderland" vibe ideal for a snowy night. Despite the awkward controls it's fun to fire hockey pucks and guided missiles at motorcycles, cars, and trucks. The destruction is satisfying to behold, with motorcycles going up in flames before exploding.
That firetruck boss however is way over the top. Lighting it up with missiles isn't enough - you have to knock clowns off of its ladders while avoiding its massive flamethrower. In my experience you'll want to ram the ladders before falling back to avoid the flames. As if these stages weren't hard enough, they are also timed, so even when I do survive there's usually only a few seconds to spare.
The platforming portions of the game look and play identical to the Genesis, except the audio has been completely redone. The sound effects are noticeably cleaner and the surreal background music is arguably better. The question is, why didn't they use the award-winning score from the actual film? Isn't that what movie licenses are for?
It's fun to grapple between building ledges while pummeling the [expletive] out of those pesky clowns. It may not be the smoothest or sharpest platformer, but the action is varied and the gritty graphics add to the dark atmosphere. Batman Returns packs a lot of replay value into an epic adventure no other system can claim.
Batman Notes says: Fans of driving games might enjoy this../... but I doubt it.
I will admit the 3D scaling is pleasing to the eye and the purple skyline is breathtaking. Unfortunately stiff controls make it nearly impossible to react to the myriad of huge obstacles dumped into your path. They also make it nearly impossible to snag helpful power-up icons. You're required to hold the direction pad up to accelerate and diagonally to turn, and that's really hard on the thumb after a while.
Each stage challenges you to beat a time limit or prevent the villain from escaping. But even if you fire and weave constantly it's really hard to keep up with the onslaught. During a car chase of Poison Ivy huge trees appear right in the road and I end up plowing through just about every one. You'll be wishing Sega had incorporated some side-scrolling action just to ease the pain.
Lengthy, full-screen cut-scenes from the TV show are presented between stages, and frankly these are the best part of the game. Although somewhat grainy they're full-screen and fun to watch. I'm just wondering why they didn't use the show's excellent soundtrack. The Adventures of Batman and Robin culminates with a flying sequence over a bridge that's far more fun to watch than to play. Sadly that pretty much sums up this entire game.
Batman Notes says: Love seeing the footage from the actual cartoon series, but the game itself needs a lot of help.
The fluidly-animated characters are absolutely huge, and the fighting action is top-notch. Not only can you execute the obligatory punches, jump-kicks, and throws, but you can actually fling enemies into the background scenery! I can't put into words how satisfying it is to toss a thug through a department store window! You'll need to beat down belligerent clowns of all sizes, including fire-blowers, sword-swallowers, jugglers, and skull-headed motorcyclists - to name a few. Should you find yourself between two enemies, you can grab them both and bash their heads together!
Superb sound effects accompany the action, so when you slam one evil clown into another, it makes an audible "thud". Your Batarangs and spear gun provide you with projectile attacks, and you also have a supply of "test tubes" that function as smart bombs, obliterating all visible enemies on the screen. Although the Batmobile driving stage isn't as flashy as the Sega CD version, it's still a nice bonus. The snow-covered Christmas scenery is a joy to behold, and some stages feature nifty lighting effects - very impressive for a 1992 game!
The dramatic musical score is also outstanding and apparently lifted directly from the film. Is there anything wrong with Batman Returns? Well, Batman looks like he let himself go a bit and picked up about 50 pounds. Also, some gamers may regard the non-stop fighting as repetitive, but in my opinion that comes with the territory. This may be the best Batman game of all time, thanks to its winning combination of tight controls and gorgeous 2D graphics.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: Uses the real music from the film, and contains many details from the movie. No payoff for finishing this game!
Batman Forever's characters are large and digitized, but that hurts the two-player mode, since you're constantly getting in your partner's way. Fighting fans will immediately realize that Acclaim recycled their Mortal Kombat engine for this game. The basic moves are the same, including the uppercut, leg sweep, roundhouse kick, and rapid-fire punching. The fighting action seems reasonable at first, but you'll soon get tired of dispatching the same clones over and over again. These guys can absorb a lot of damage! It's tough to be sandwiched between two villains, but a nice backhand punch or leg kick can keep them at bay.
The stop-motion animation isn't bad, but Acclaim clearly did not use the actors from the movie. Robin has a sizable gut, and Batman has a sack of potatoes in his pants! But the game's problems run far deeper than that. The glossy, full-color manual never bothers to explain how to climb up and drop down through holes in the floor. As a result, it took me two FAQ pages to figure out how to get past the first stage! The game expects you to climb onto unseen ledges and drop down into areas not visible to the eye.
Batman Forever makes a mockery of common sense. Why would destroying a safe cause a door to open on the lower level? There are times when you'll find yourself walking (and fighting) on thin air! The darker levels feature nice gothic scenery, but brighter levels (like the circus) look cheesy. Another annoying thing is having to wait for the game to load as you stare at "HOLD ON". This only lasts a few seconds, but this is a cartridge for Pete's sake! From top to bottom, Batman Forever is a complete mess.
Batman Notes says: Bad games are bad FOREVER.
The characters are nicely animated and the sound effects are crisp. When you disarm a foe with a Batarang and beat him senseless, it feels great! The lavish musical score is basically the same one used in Batman Returns. The opening stage concludes with an moonlit amusement park encounter with the Joker, taking you on a vertigo-inducing roller coaster ride. Although a platformer at heart, each stage plays differently and offers a new villain like Catwoman, Two-face, Scarecrow, and the Riddler. Fans of the animated series will love cinematic touches like seeing Catwoman somersaulting between rooftops in the distance before you actually encounter her.
The gameplay however is less enticing. Objectives are frequently confusing and on-screen prompts (like "hit") only add to the confusion. In the rollercoaster stage you need to deflect the Joker's bombs by punching them. How was I supposed to know that? You can toggle between items but locating the right one for each situation is largely a matter of trial-and-error. The overhead driving stage is aggravating because it's timed and it's so easy to get hopelessly stuck on a curb!
The password option is useful but did the password need to be a grid of shapes? The continue function always returns you to the very beginning of the stage, so what's the point? And despite what the title would imply, this is a one-player game, with Robin only making token appearances. Adventures of Batman and Robin may be a showcase title but I wished it played as well as it looks.
Batman Notes says: Looks great, nice helping of classic villains, but gameplay can be a chore at times.
I happen to be a fan of the Batman Forever movie. The acting is terrible and the plot incomprehensible, yet I enjoy its colorful villains, abundant eye candy, and preposterous action scenes. The dark, neon-lit Gotham atmosphere is nicely reflected in this game's chaotic stages including city streets, rooftops, a raucous club, and the Riddler's lair.
Batman Forever's enigmatic gameplay is a huge letdown, marred by rough animation and sporadic collision detection. Thugs pour out of the woodwork but dark, muddled graphics make it hard to tell what's going on. A poor frame rate, coupled with flashing point values, raining icons, and flying bodies makes it hard to keep track of your character! Scaling is used to convey depth, but it's unnecessary and results in unsightly pixelation.
An overloaded control scheme crams a half-dozen functions into three buttons, and our heroes slide around as if they were on ice. Batman has an annoying habit of latching onto anything in the vicinity, so you keep inadvertently grabbing nearby goons. Once a thug starts landing hits, Batman becomes paralyzed with fear, absorbing hit after hit. And when bad guys start showing up with grenades and machine guns, you'll go from full health to death before you know what's going on.
The stages offer sharp digitized backdrops but there's minimal interaction with the scenery. Why do wrecking balls keep falling from the sky? Power-ups abound but it's hard to tell what effect - if any - they're having. You can't walk across the screen without grabbing five of them, but the fact that they're triggered via the punch button makes them nearly impossible to use strategically.
The gameplay occasionally veers from ludicrous to flat-out bizarre. One power-up causes Batman to inexplicably shrink! There seems to be no degradation of his strength, so what is the point? It's the type of thing you'd expect from a cheat code. The manual states certain icons are meant to have "random" effects, as if Acclaim was trying to see how many bad ideas they could cram into a single game.
What's sad is that this game had potential. Side-scrolling brawlers had slowed to a trickle by 1996, so there wasn't much competition. A two-player mode lets Batman and Robin fight together, but that just doubles the confusion. If you're still not convinced that the game's designer was clueless, consider that the high score screen lets you enter four letters.
Batman Forever does live up to its arcade moniker, offering short, frantic games best experienced in small doses. I like how bonus icons are awarded between rounds, although the purpose of each is rarely clear. High scores are recorded separately for Batman and Robin. Batman Forever: The Arcade Game is a guilty pleasure of the highest magnitude, but there's something appealing about its brand of unbridled chaos.
Batman Notes says: Fantastic intro and some nice visuals, but the music and power-ups are inappropriate.
It's hard to criticize Batman and Robin's graphics - this game is pure eye-candy! From the impressive cinematics to the glitzy streets of Gotham, the game sports a dark but colorful motif in the spirit of the movie. The heroes look awesome. Although somewhat stiff when they move, I love the way their capes flow. Your adventure begins in the Batcave at Wayne Manor, where you can train and analyze clues. The training room is a Tomb Raider knock-off, as are the swimming controls (who asked for swimming in a Batman game anyway?). The Batcave is pretty cool though because there are plenty of things to do and places to explore.
When it's time to hit the road, you'll hop into the batmobile and cruise the streets of Gotham in search of thugs and clues. The driving graphics are impressively smooth, although the steering is over-sensitive. Mr. Freeze's thugs attack from motorcycles and tanks, but your machine gun is very effective at dispatching these goons. There are also civilian vehicles on the road that inexplicably explode when you accidentally sideswipe them (whoops!). The buildings look really good, and you can get out of your vehicle to explore at any time. Unfortunately, only certain designated areas offer anything to see, indicated by a parked police car.
Once you determine where Mr. Freeze will strike next, you go to that place and battle his thugs. These fighting sequences are where the game falls apart. Confusing controls, awkward camera angles, graphical glitches, and collision problems make each fight a painful experience. In addition, the sound effects feature a lot of annoying alarms, and the voice samples sound nothing like the real actors. Finally, be prepared to spend a lot of time staring at loading screens. I like the concept behind Batman and Robin, but Acclaim couldn't quite pull it off.
Batman Notes says: A lot of good ideas, but poorly executed. Like the batmobile driving aspect.
The on-screen overhead map is crap, but at least a green arrow at the top of the screen keeps you headed in the right direction. Consequently, you'll spend most of the game staring at that ugly arrow. The Batmobile itself looks junky, and the analog steering sucks. You tend to swerve from side to side, making it difficult to stay on the narrow roads.
Some missions involve trailing a villain or disabling his vehicle with weapons. You can fire weapons forward or backward, but no visible damage is inflicted (lame!). Worst yet, the maze-like layout of the city prevents you from attaining high speeds. Gotham Racer's scenery isn't very elaborate. Most roads look the same, but there are a few landmarks and shortcuts to spice things up.
In terms of audio, the orchestrated musical score is terrific, but the Batmobile engine is in serious need of a tune-up. The animated cutscenes are entertaining enough, and fans of the series will enjoy watching Batman battle foes like Two-Face, Firefly, and Clay-Face. This footage appears to be taken directly from the show, although the visual quality is somewhat degraded. Gotham City Racer is definitely mediocre, and only die-hard Batman fans will find any redeeming qualities in this.
Batman Notes says: Footage is lifted directly from the animated series, but the fun stops there.
Batman Beyond is weird as hell, but it gets by on its hard-hitting hand-to-hand combat and easy-to-grasp controls. The game is rendered with 3D polygons, but the side-scrolling fighting action is more along the lines of 2D brawlers like Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991). Most of the stages take place in high-tech facilities, and they're pretty boring. The 3D scenery is composed of clean textures and nice lighting effects, but plain metallic walls and stacks of boxes make for dull scenery. This game lacks the interesting illustrated details you find in 2D brawlers.
Batman controls well as he goes up against generic thugs, robots, and creepy hyena-people. You can punch, kick, duck, block, jump, and brandish weapons. You have several outfits to choose from, each of which is suited to a unique play style. Personally I prefer the defensive suit with its super-effective shoulder charge. Fighting is satisfying because you can easily dish off a quick succession of hits, and enemies hit the floor with a resounding thud. The audio is terrific with its edgy guitar soundtrack and jarring explosions.
Batman Beyond's primary flaw is its questionable replay value. You'll get several continues but no password, so each time you play it's back to the start! The game is pretty short with its five stages, and there's no score or rating to gauge your performance. Batman Beyond had some potential, but Ubisoft didn't put enough effort into this.
Batman Notes says: Roughly follows the storyline of the animated movie, but the lack of voices is glaring.
In addition to a bevy of fancy martial arts attacks, Batman's utility belt is loaded with gadgets like bat-a-rangs, grappling hooks, nets, and remote charges. Some of the game's more original elements include saving people falling in mid-air (!) and the ability to handcuff defeated henchmen so they won't come back for more.
The level design is superb, so for the most part it's obvious where you need to go and what needs to be done. Spicing up the action are occasional driving stages. The graphics in Batman Vengeance are crisp and attractive, employing vivid colors over dark backgrounds, although a few areas are a bit hard to discern. The music and sound effects are spectacular, obviously lifted directly from the TV series, and there are over 40 minutes of gorgeous cinematics.
While my experience was overwhelmingly positive, I did uncover a few flaws. The "C" stick used to target enemies is far too sensitive, and the camerawork is awkward at times, especially on the ledges of tall buildings. In your first encounter with the Joker, you can hear him, but you can't tell where the heck he is! Finally, it would be nice if when you picked up an item the game actually told you what the freakin' thing was! But don't let these problems steer you away from this above-average superhero title.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: Great cinematics, voices, and use of the utlity belt.
The basic gameplay involves eavesdropping on thugs, freaking them out by triggering "accidents", and interrogating those you sneak up on. Keeping a low profile is advisable, since causing a ruckus results in thugs pouring out of the woodwork. The fighting action is simple and satisfying, with Batman performing a variety of stylish martial arts maneuvers on his foes. Despite its strong Metal Gear influence, Batman Begins never feels frustrating or tedious. The stages are very linear, and the game always keeps you headed in the right direction. At one point I even asked myself, "Am I playing this game, or is it playing me?" I decided it doesn’t really matter as long as I'm having a good time. This is one stealth game even a casual player can enjoy, although some hardcore gamers may object to the constant "handholding".
Batman Begins is nicely paced, and I didn't even mind the early training level (those are usually so annoying). Spicing up the action are gadgets like an optic wire (to see through doors), lock-picking mini-games, and lengthy Burnout-style driving stages. Grenades and Batarangs are useful weapons, but these are only available at specific times, which can be frustrating. There are ample checkpoints, so you won't need to repeat the same areas too often. The storyline differs somewhat from the film but the cut scenes feature a generous helping of movie footage. An ominous orchestrated musical score adds dramatic flair, and it's reminiscent of Psycho at times. Despite being a bit shallow, Batman Begins has all the necessary ingredients of a good superhero game. Numerous unlockables include cast interviews, movie footage, alternate batman costumes, and mini-games. Fans of the Caped Crusader are in for a treat.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: Everything about this game is faithful to the film, with the exception of the music. Can be a little easy at times.
For one thing, since the camera is tilted overhead, there's little if any eye candy to be seen. In fact, the only visible scenery is concrete streets and marble flooring. The thugs take far too many hits to defeat, even when you employ special moves! The controls are very much geared toward button-mashing, evident by the fact that many moves require tapping the same button in rapid succession.
You can assume the role of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, or Nightwing. I like how you can fight alongside a friend, but that doesn't make the action any less repetitive. The thugs come in several varieties, but they all behave pretty much the same. One type likes to unleash gas bombs which makes the screen very wavy. While this effect seems impressive at first, it's so overused that I found myself getting nauseous from it!
Between stages you can save your progress and use the points you earn to purchase additional moves. The graphics mimic the style of the cartoon series, but tend to be a little bland. Rise of Sin Tzu is pretty dull in the early going, but while I expected it to become more interesting as I progressed, that never happened. I suspect even Batman fans will find Rise of Sin Tzu more taxing than it should have been.
Batman Notes says: Good co-op action, but the final boss Sin Tzu is next to impossible to beat, which is a downer. I would argue that the game's grade should be in the C territory.
When you start a new game Batman is pitted against waves of thugs wearing animal masks and armed with machine guns. Besides kick and punch attacks, you can deploy gadgets from your utility belt like bat-a-rangs, smoke bombs, night vision goggles, and grapples. Dark Tomorrow has considerable depth but it's not very playable. Swinging between rooftops with the bat-cable is clumsy, and one accidental slip sends the Dark Knight plunging to his death.
The designers tried to incorporate stealth, but Batman creeps so slowly in "sneak mode" that it's unbearable. The combat is ruined by the fact that you must apply bat-cuffs to all the bad guys you beat down. Otherwise they just get back up! Applying the cuffs is time-consuming, and the cuffing animation is unintentionally hilarious because Batman doesn't appear to know what the hell he's doing (where do these things go?). It's frustrating when you're messing around with the cuffs while all the bad guys are pumping lead into you. It just goes to show: just because an idea is original doesn't mean it's good.
The controls suck in general. Sometimes Batman will grab onto a ladder and sometimes he won't. You cannot aim upward with your bat-a-rang, leaving you defenseless against thugs on ledges. But by far the worst aspect of the game is the camera. Your view abruptly changes so often that it's hard to tell which way you're facing. You'll need to depend on your radar display to ensure you're not backtracking.
And if you think the camerawork is disorienting in the streets, wait until you enter a building. On a positive note, the load screens are short and you can save your progress at any time. When Batman loses his life, he makes one final attempt to stand before collapsing from exhaustion. After trying to play this train wreck I felt the same way.
Batman Notes says: Dark Tomorrow's gameplay will give you nightmares tonight!
The first-rate graphics boast some absolutely breathtaking scenery featuring water views and city skylines. Batman has no problem navigating the shadowy, gothic scenery, as he can grapple most ledges at the touch of a button. Exploring the surroundings is enjoyable, and some buildings even have funhouse/haunted house flavor. There's a morgue area that's genuinely creepy in a Friday the 13th sort of way. The game's puzzles might be frustrating if not for the handy "detective mode" which highlights "points of interest" in the scenery.
The fighting controls are perfectly suited to laying the smack-down on several foes in rapid succession, and each devastating blow is punctuated with exaggerated sounds and slow motion effects. If the crooks are armed however, it's best to use your stealth abilities for a "divide and conquer" approach. Batman: Arkham Asylum is brimming with style and has a flair for the dramatic. Brief cut-scenes are seamlessly intertwined with the action, and the Joker makes regular announcements over the monitors and intercoms. The voice acting is superb, and the language is pretty harsh for a superhero game. The music is restrained but effective, with a melancholy piano adding suspense during quiet moments.
But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the game is its crisp, responsive controls. There are plenty of buttons to remember, but the game frequently reminds you how you perform key actions like activating the detective mode or executing a special take-down move. The game has more than its share of original gameplay elements like following a trail of fingerprints to locate a victim or picking electronic locks by maneuvering the controller thumbsticks.
As great as it is, Arkham Asylum may be guilty of being too long. Certain stages feel very drawn out, and even when backtracking you're usually forced to clear out the thugs whether it's really necessary or not. The game has a knack for taking a perfectly good concept (like using vents to infiltrate locked rooms) and thoroughly beating it to death! If it were shorter and tighter, I think the game would feel more cohesive and satisfying. Even so, Batman Arkham Asylum is a work of art that will far exceed most gamers' expectations.
Batman Notes says: A major leap forward in Batman video games, but needs more villains. The voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill make the game extra special.
The action takes place at night with snow flurries that create a chilling atmosphere. Batman can navigate the city with ease thanks to his handy grappling hook which extends a great distance, propelling you from building to building like Spider-Man. Considering its expansive environment, it's amazing how the game always seems to guide you to the right place. Unlike Arkham Asylum, there's a wide range of villains including Penguin, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Ra's Al Ghul, Bane, and once again, the Clown Prince of Gotham, the Joker. The hulking Soloman Grundy is downright terrifying!
The storyline is loaded with surprise twists and conveyed through dramatic cut-scenes that will thrill Batman fans. The basic gameplay is similar to the first game - a potent mix of exploration, puzzle solving, and combat. The "detective mode" highlights items of interest in the environment, and Batman frequently talks to himself to provide hints ("I think I can reach that switch with a remote-controlled batarang"). I'm not the biggest fan of stealth gameplay, but this game makes sneaking up on thugs interesting thanks to cool moves like the ability to reach through walls or perform a "double takedown".
The combat system has been refined, and it seems like the more thugs you face, the more fun it is. Like a well-choreographed kung fu fight, the battles are poetry in motion. The control scheme isn't trivial and the moves can be hard to remember, but at least the game introduces them gradually. Your utility belt is loaded with cool devices that are fun to experiment with, and the boss battles let you subdue your foe in a variety of ways. The musical score is pretty intense and the voice acting is handled well by veteran actors like Mark Hamill (The Joker) and Kevin Conroy (Batman). There are frequent checkpoints and a "Saving..." indicator that appears often.
Arkham City is a tour de force of programming, clearly developed by the best in the industry. My only issue is the publisher's heavy-handed use of DLC. Each copy of the game contains a code for downloading Catwoman which can only be redeemed online. This apparent swipe at the used game market is being done at the expense of honest customers who paid full price. Other than that, Arkham City is the Batman game you've always dreamed of.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: A nice mix of detective work and thug smashing should please the masses, but the real payoff is defeating a large helping of super villains!
Lego Batman is an eyeful with its dark cityscapes and colorful enemy lairs, which I found more compelling than the deserts of Indiana Jones Lego or the spaceships of Star Wars Lego. On rare occasions the camera pulls back far enough to expose a misty city skyline which looks amazing. The slick visuals are accompanied by a lush musical score lifted from the first Batman film (1989).
Gameplay features simple combat, platform jumping, and a lot of not-so-obvious puzzles. The Batman and Robin characters can switch outfits during the course of the game, giving them new powers and allowing them to complete each stage in multiple ways. Batman's outfit selection includes suits for heat protection, demolition, and gliding. Robin's include a magnet suit, technology suit (for using robots), and attract suit (for sucking up small Lego pieces). The game's multiple storylines can be played through in parallel, and each has a unique set of villains.
The game certainly delivers in terms of presentation, but the shallow Lego formula is beginning to wear thin. First of all, you get infinite lives, so where's the challenge? Some kind of scoring system or time limit might have made things more interesting. The fighting is very repetitive and you can hit your partner, which is sometimes hard to avoid in the heat of battle. Equally aggravating is how the fixed camera angles make it really hard to judge certain jumps. The driving stages look amazing, but are remarkably devoid of fun.
Lego Batman also has its share of bugs, and it even locked up on me at one point. Finally, the game saves your progress not after you complete a stage, but after you select continue, which makes no sense. I like the premise behind Lego Batman, but the lack of tension and cookie-cutter design make it less than satisfying.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: Great co-op title incorporates a heck of a lot of the "Bat World" into a single title.
The basic action is pretty much business-as-usual as you bash the scenery for cogs, pull levers to access new areas, and beat up goons. You can now alternate control of Batman and Robin instead of relying on the CPU to control your partner. The puzzles are satisfying, but there are times when you can't seem to pull a switch in plain view. Suits provide special powers like a hazard suit that lets Robin hose down hazardous waste and an electricity suit that lets Batman overcome electrified obstacles. The suits play a vital role but I hate how they can lose their "charge".
The stages are really cool and you never spend too much time in any one place. The camera is fixed (in most cases) so sometimes it's hard to see doorways and objects in the shadows. The new save system seems like an improvement at first, but upon reloading you may find yourself in an unexpected location. Also, the game is not immune to locking up. As the title suggests, you'll get to use other DC characters although Batman is still the star of the show. A big game with a lot of play value, Lego Batman 2 is probably the best Lego title so far.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: The addition of voice actors & more DC Superheroes make this entry fun for gamers of all ages!
Brave and the Bold is based on the animated TV series, and I love its tongue-in-cheek style. The banter between Batman and his partner is downright hilarious at times - arguably the highlight of the game! A few lines even poke fun at video games ("Hey, didn't we just pass that mountain?") The game itself plays like an interactive cartoon, with rich scenery that looks hand-painted. The museum in the opening level is fun and imaginative, and I love the "cats throughout history" exhibits. Later levels are set in less-compelling sewers, caves, mines, and subways. The game often feels like an homage to the classic era, as you dodge steam vents, run along conveyor belts, and avoid falling stalactites.
You'll grapple platforms, pummel thugs, and gather up the gold coins they drop. In addition to gangsters, you'll beat up robots, gorillas, zombies, and even swarms of bugs! Taking the tutorial is necessary to understand all of your moves, but it's the wide variety of attack options that keeps the fighting fresh. The motion controls are used effectively, mainly to unleash heavy attacks. You can point at the screen to mark targets for your batarangs, which is a lot of fun. It's especially satisfying to set off a string of floating mines. You'll fight your share of bosses, but most of these battles have some sort of twist to keep things interesting. For example, Cat Man will temporarily transform you into small caped feline crusaders!
The stages are ideal in length, your progress is automatically saved, and the jazzy musical score is fantastic. A gadget screen lets you buy and upgrade items, but it's hardly necessary because the game is so easy. I'm not a fan of super-hard games, but a little challenge is needed to add tension. Part of the problem lies with the unlimited respawns, which makes you feel like you're playing the game with a cheat code. It's a shame because Batman: The Bold and the Brave definitely gets the "hard stuff" right, combining old-school fun with new-school technology. A difficulty option would have gone a long way, but it's still a fun trip.
Batman Notes says: I actually enjoyed this more than the cartoon series it's based upon.
The title seems to be a misnomer. Both Batman and the villains are fully realized from the start; they just don't know each other yet. Once I began playing Origins I remembered why I love this series. The controls are crisp and on-screen prompts provide timely hints. The combat has a slick counter system that lets our hero easily dispatch several goons in rapid succession. Black Mask is the primary villain but there are plenty of supporting bad guys including the Penguin, Deathstroke, Copperhead, and the awesomely scary Killer Croc.
As in previous games, you overhear a lot of conversations as you grapple between buildings and creep through dark hallways. A divide-and-conquer approach is wise when dealing with gangs, and it's fun to systematically weed them out. Navigating the city can be disorienting but a quick travel option helps ease the pain. The amazing scenery looks properly weathered and aged, and the dilapidated cruise ship is downright haunting. Some areas do look very similar to others, giving you a frequent case of deja vu.
I also found the upgrade system confusing, and using the control pad for the map doesn't work as well as you would expect. The graphical detail is commendable, especially with dust particles in the light fixtures and roaches scurrying across the prison floor. The only blemishes I could see were jaggy shadows and frame-drops when grappling between buildings. The game isn't particularly hard. After you die you pick up right where you left off and your progress is frequently saved.
I think what I enjoy most about Arkham Origins is its wintry weather and holiday themes. Dating back to Batman Returns (1992), snow has always been a nice complement to the dark, gothic Gotham scenery. What I enjoyed least was the ridiculous boss battle with Deathstroke, which single-handedly gave me carpal tunnel! Overall Batman Arkham Origins has its share of been-there-done-that moments, but it's still one heck of a video game.
Batman Notes says: Nice prequel for those who thirst for more Arkham thrills, but an obviously rushed game with blatantly frustrating bugs are the main reason why this outing falls short of 'Arkham City'.
This chapter takes place in a raging thunderstorm, and I love the driving rain and how it beads on Batman's suit. The gothic scenery is incredibly detailed yet I never felt a burning desire to explore. The basic gameplay is unchanged except there's more of everything. More moves, more gadgets, more characters, and more profanity (ugh).
One drawback is the control scheme has become so overloaded that the game almost constantly prompts you for the next button combination. The combat is so frenetic it looks like a parody of itself. Batman looks ridiculous as he hops between enemies like a flea. You hardly feel in control as you mash buttons while watching him go buck-wild. And despite advancements you still can't knock enemies off ledges.
The criminal investigation scenes provide a nice change of pace as you recreate details of the crime in remarkable detail. But none of that is new. The big new addition is the ability to drive the Batmobile, but it kind of sucks. The car slides wildly around the narrow, winding streets, bouncing like a pinball and smashing everything.
The game leads you around by the nose with gaudy flashing arrows on the road. Bad guys making their getaway make a lot of sharp turns so it's hard to keep them in your sights, much less build up much speed. Used in many unlikely situations, the Batmobile is like a Swiss army knife. It fires weapons remotely, pulls down walls with its wench, and even transforms into a tank! In one stage you must navigate it over a series of precarious elevated platforms, and it's painful. The tank battles seem cool at first, but after a dozen times it's just tiresome.
Batman Arkham Knight isn't a bad game but it's hard to imagine why it was delayed so long. Those new to the series will be impressed, but this franchise has long passed the point of diminishing return.
Batman Notes says: Nice addition to the franchise, but the Batmobile being used primary as a destructive killing tank is pretty unBatman-like.
Interesting backgrounds include gothic building facades and panoramic views of the city skyline. Unlike other games that repeat the same scenery ad-nauseum, there's always something new and interesting to see. The goons you encounter include motorcycle-riding clowns, and each villain is distinctive, exhibiting a unique attack pattern. A nice synthesized musical soundtrack plays throughout the game and adds to the intensity.
One aspect that turned me off was the game's excessive difficulty. Just surviving the first stage (out of four total) is a major accomplishment. That's partly due to the excessive number of cheap hits you absorb from bombs, knives, and dynamite being tossed all over the place. There is, however, a secret: just run through and avoid the bad guys! Of course, that pretty much defeats the purpose of the whole game. It's a shame, because Batman Return could have been the best Lynx game of all. Hint: Take cover behind the mailbox when the storefront blows up or you're toast.
Batman Notes says: Some character bear slight resemblance to film counterparts, but this isn't too exciting.
Our miniature Caped Crusader can gracefully leap great distances and his duck move is invaluable when exchanging gunfire with the Joker's goons. The stage layouts are clever, allowing you to strategically clear away blocks to reveal bonuses and power-ups. A few are tricky to reach, and once the screen moves forward, you can't go back.
The only connections to the film lie in the cutscenes and stage locations which include a chemical factory, museum, and cathedral. There's also a rapid-fire Batwing stage. The music isn't from the film but it's pretty great with some nifty drumwork. Batman could be more faithful to the film but somehow succeeds in spite of itself.
Batman Notes says: MIDI file music is generic and dated, Batman appears to be shooting a gun. What?!
The ability to vault between walls gives the game a Ninja Gaiden (NES, 1989) flavor but the controls are clumsy. One false move and you fall off the screen or get crushed by heavy machinery, and then it's game over. There's no score or password although a few continues are available if you're a glutton for punishment.
Normally I appreciate a stage select feature but the options here (train, factory, sewers) could be more enticing. I subjected a few friends to Return of the Joker and they all ended up with the same glazed-over look in their eyes. There comes a time when you just need to throw up your hands and admit a game is junk.
Batman Notes says: At least Sunsoft has the Batarang and grappling hook take canter stage here, but the Bat-fun stops there.
Batman really does look like the Caped Crusader - not some cartoon version. I love the skyscrapers looming in the moonlit sky and the dramatic musical score. Batman can jump, punch, and vault off walls like Ninja Gaiden (NES, 1989). I have to admit the wall-jumping takes some getting used to. Batman can also fire his grappling hook straight up to pull himself up to higher levels. While prowling around for items it's fun to get the drop on bad guys.
The combat however is a little shallow. Batman's attacks are limited to simple punches and batarangs (when available). The stages are well-designed and the bosses are reasonable in difficulty. The game lacks a password but it does have a score and continues. Batman: The Animated Series far exceeded my expectations. Pound for pound this is one of the best Batman titles I've played on a portable.
Batman Notes says: Just like the animated series itself, cool intro. About as fun as a portable gets.
As Batman forges through the opening stage he smashes statues and vases for power-ups. Thugs show up with names like "Bully", "Catnip" and "Ninja". Has it occurred to Batman that maybe these guys are just mad because he's breaking all their stuff? The fighting adopts the Mortal Kombat formula but since enemy life meters are short they don't overstay their welcome. The collision detection is pretty loose and I'm not sure any of my rapid-fire punches actually connected.
At the end of the first area I found myself hopelessly stuck in front of a closed exit door. A little research revealed I was required to quickly press down and up to spring upward through the ceiling to a higher level. How in the [expletive] was I supposed to know that? There are also special moves that require "dragon-punch" style pad maneuvers.
Upon freeing a few prisoners the exit magically opened, which makes no sense. After exhausting my lives a score was displayed but there were no continues. No complaints here! Batman Forever won't win any awards but compared to the 16-bit debacles it's a total blast.
Batman Notes says: Just like the non-portable version, absolute garbage!
The streets of Gotham look weird, with light posts that resemble basketball hoops. Hand-to-hand combat is frustrating because you always find yourself overlapping the bad guy, unable to land a punch. And when you do land a punch it sounds like a bomb. The collision detection could be better; I once punched a guy on a completely different floor! One creepy stage is apparently the set of an Alice in Wonderland movie where you're fighting freaky card soldiers and Cheshire cats. Another stage takes place in a 20-story loft that serves as Mr. Freeze's lair.
The stages are so sprawling and repetitious, they're nauseating! Forget about the bad guys, I just want to find the exit. You have a stash of specialty weapons like bombs and throwing stars, but they're hardly necessary because the bosses tend to be pushovers. After dying the screen said I had 8 lives left! Thanks but no thanks. The Adventures of Batman and Robin is a lot of things, but fun isn't high on the list.
Batman Notes says: Not perfect, but the look of the game makes up for some of the errors.
The fighting action is painfully slow and repetitive, especially when even the weakest goons require six or seven hits to kill. With names like Bully, Angry, and Shady, these guys were destined for a life of crime. The first boss is clearly Two Face, yet his health meter says "Hologram" for some reason. I guess they're saving the "real" Two-Face for the end, but how do you fight a hologram?!
Between slogging through fights you'll punch exploding plants and rescue hostages who raise their arms like they've won a contest. The cookie-cutter "bank" backdrops are sparse and the looping "musical" notes are just mind numbing. But the worst aspect of Batman Forever is the controls, which incorporate complicated Street Fighter-style button combinations. I suspect most players won't be able to find their way out of the first room. The secret is pressing down and up, causing Batman to jump through the ceiling (?!) to the level above. Even the exit door is too small - it looks like Batman should bang his head on it!
I may have escaped that first room, but the game's incompetence eventually caught up with me, trapping me in the circus area. Hey - I had been looking for an excuse to shut this thing off anyway. This sad part is, the film contains all the elements for a great video game including colorful characters, interesting locations, and a distinctive cinematic style. All sadly squandered here, I'm afraid.
Batman Notes says: Portable or not, let's face it: if it's a video game named Batman Forever, it sucks!
Beating up bad guys would be more fun if the sound effects were synced up better. But the platform jumping where Chaos in Gotham really falters. You can jump to hang onto a ledge and pull yourself up, but you need to be at just the right pixel to grab. It's not always clear where that spot is, and you'll incur a lot of damage trying to find it! The first stage is an ice palace that turns out to be the lair of Mr. Freeze (spoiler alert!).
The second stage is a museum where you find yourself fighting on the bones of fossilized dinosaurs before meeting the Joker and Harley. The third stage takes place on a train and features Two-Face. Each stage has its own villain! There are a few puzzles that usually require the sliding of blocks. Batgirl stars in several stages including a high speed motorcycle ride. Chaos in Gotham has all the ingredients for an action-packed adventure, but it feels too sloppy and uncooked to recommend.
Batman Notes says: Although the graphics are weak, I still enjoyed this game more than I should have.
Batman can punch, kick, and equip special weapons like nunchucks. He'll face a lot of scary bad guys including minotaurs, dog-men, and laser-shooting robots. There are traps as well, and Batman's ability to glide comes in handy for avoiding flames or spikes. Batman Beyond has a solid storyline and cool music that picks up in intensity when the action does.
What ruins the game is its confusing, maze-like stages. Every room looks the same, with doors and elevators leading all over the place. When you clear a room the Batman Beyond logo flashes on the screen and it kind of looks like an arrow. Is it telling me to go somewhere? That's what I thought, but then I ended up back in an old area where I had to fight the same goons all over again. Ugh. Batman Beyond could have been an intriguing title, but the game makes you feel like you're on some never-ending wild goose chase.
Batman Notes says: A fair portal video game, adding the Batman Beyond theme makes it slightly above average.
As you walk down a city street you're approached by masked freaks with hockey sticks. The scenery is exceptionally detailed with layers of buildings, automobiles, signs, and graffiti. The backdrops look great when you're standing still, but when moving they become a blur. The eye strain becomes even worse in the sewers where much of the screen is intentionally blacked out.
You can walk right up to most goons and deliver two good punches to knock them out. The "thwack!" sound effects ring true, but the rest of the audio falls flat. The happy-go-lucky music sounds like a toy xylophone, and the grunts and groans sound like an adult movie!
Certain enemies have a tendency to remain out of "punching distance", but they can't escape your jump-kicks. I find it interesting how you can actually unleash multiple kicks during a single jump! Also satisfying is hurling projectiles like Bat-a-rangs. They're hard to see on the screen (impossible really) but you can hear them whirling through the air and watch enemies fall. Your grappling hook pulls you up to higher areas like balconies and fire escapes.
The controls could be a little more responsive, and you often get stuck facing the wrong direction. What's more frustrating is how the game sometimes creates an invisible wall and won't let you proceed until you beat up more thugs. Batman and Robin has issues, but I appreciate its good looks, straightforward style, and moderate difficulty.
Batman Notes says: Not as awful as the laughable sound effects and music would suggest.
Batman looks heroic with his cape blowing in the wind, but the bad guys look a little silly running back and forth in the small areas they're guarding. Some goons are armed with missile launchers, but fortunately Batman can survive a missile directly to the face at point blank range. I know because it happened to me a lot!
The platform gameplay includes a lot of jumping, gliding, grabbing a ledge, and pulling yourself up. Is it just me or do the controls feel backwards? I always attack when I mean to jump. Another annoyance are those ubiquitous steam vents situated in the most inconvenient spots. And boy oh boy is it easy to slip off of ledges. Walk within a foot of the edge and you slide right off. You only get one life but are equipped with several health packs.
Spicing things up are overhead Robin stages and even vehicle stages! The overhead driving looks amazing, reminding me of Spy Hunter (Colecovision, 1984). Easy-to-remember passwords (like GOTHAM) are presented between stages. The problem with Batman Vengeance is that the stages are only moderately fun. It's interesting to see what comes next, but I was always glad to leave the previous stage behind.
Batman Notes says: Although the redundant gameplay and leaps of faith take away from some of the fun, Bat-fans should still enjoy this title.
The combat is a little repetitive, but mainly because you're fighting the same bald guy over and over. I once kicked that bastard in the shin 20 times straight! Whenever you're running across a ledge and see an open window, rest assured "that guy" is about to emerge. The fighting action looks good but tends to be a bit slow and laborious. I'm not sure if new moves unlock as you go, but at some point I began tossing these guys around like rag dolls. Even more satisfying is smashing wooden crates over their heads. The music is pretty badass and the sound effects are noticeably crisp as well.
The stages however all look pretty much the same, whether it's downtown, China Town, or City Hall. You're always running across building ledges while jumping between fire escapes. I groaned whenever I reached a timed sequence, which requires you to pull a lever and quickly dash to some unlocked location before the clock runs out. The stages are relatively short and the game provides frequent passwords. In the end Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu looks good, but its high production values can't overcome its monotonous gameplay.
Batman Notes says: Not a great game but somewhat addictive.
The adventure begins in the snowy mountains of China, and like Bruce Wayne in the movie, this is where you'll learn the ropes. Eventually you progress to Gotham where you duke-it-out with crooks in industrial locations. A few of these thugs look like actors from the West Side Story, and I was expecting them to break into a dance number at any time. The rich scenery has a distinctive weathered look, and the rain and snow effects add atmosphere.
Batman has a wide range of moves including a rolling kick and an uppercut that can take out three thugs at a time (now that's old school!) Fighting is extra satisfying thanks to the little health meter under each enemy. Batman Begins also incorporates stealth elements - for better or worse.
I like the idea of getting "the drop" on enemy thugs, but certain stages require you to remain totally unseen and boy does that get tedious. Batman Begins features nicely illustrated cutscenes and a soundtrack worthy of a Hollywood action flick. The stealth elements tempered my enthusiasm, but it's still great to see an old-school take on a new-school film.
Batman Notes says: No music from the film, but good use of utility belt items. Not bad at all for a portable.
This is easily the best-looking game I've played on my 3DS. Batman's movement is limited to a single plane, but this means less aimless wandering, less wasted time, and a tighter storyline. When the action transitions to the prison facilities there's less eye candy but the grungy, dilapidated scenery still looks impressive as hell. You'll need to move back and forth between locations, but I love how you acquire new items (like a zip-line) that let you access new areas.
Hazards like spikes, poison gas, and electrical charges feel like throwbacks to the 16-bit era. The well-designed control scheme mimics the 3D titles, making it easy to climb, grapple, and perform sneak attacks. The combat places heavy emphasis on counters and combos, and it's satisfying to witness that final, slow-motion blow.
I really got into this game. Heck, I even enjoyed using the detective mode and cracking codes with my crypto sequencer. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is no joke. This is one game that plays as well as it looks, and in this case that's really saying something.
Batman Notes RECOMMENDED: As good as portable Batman games get!