It’s that time of year again. The nights are getting longer, the chill is in the air, the shadows are getting scarier… and that’s the time of the Dark Knight! So, as year 3 of Batman Month begins again, I intend to divulge from my vast knowledge of the Caped Crusader. And to begin, since we’re getting a brand new entry in the popular Arkham game series, we’re going to look at all the good games that Batman has had before. And it’s going to get interesting…
Batman: The Video Game (NES/Sega Genesis – 1990)
Adapting the 1989 Tim Burton film, this action platformer from Sunsoft was epic. Allowing you to play Batman with both his fists and a ton of weapons in the NES version and the Batmobile and Batwing in the Genesis version, and with challenging levels and tactics (including a Ninja Gaiden style wall jump), you got to take on some of the toughest bosses in classic gaming. One of the earliest smash hit games in the Dark Knight’s repertoire.
Batman: Return of the Joker (NES – 1991)
Released by Sunsoft as a direct sequel to the video game of the first movie (because they really wanted a sequel with the Joker), this was inspired by games like Contra and Megaman, both in gameplay as a shooter, and in difficulty. While there were Gameboy and Genesis versions, the NES version was the iconic one. Just watch out for the cheap deaths, they will cause you to pull your hair out.
Batman Returns (Super Nintendo – 1993)
Released by Konami, this was an old-school arcade brawler. While not very original in gameplay, and lacking a two-player option, everything else, from the graphics to the gameplay and balanced difficulty, was top-notch. While there were other versions, this is the one I think of the most when I remember fun games from back then.
The Adventures of Batman and Robin (Super Nintendo – 1994)
Based on the animated series, this action platformer gave you access to tons of gadgets as you control Batman through gorgeously replicated levels from the cartoon. Of the three versions that were released (the Genesis one was a Contra style shooter, and the Sega CD one was a vehicle chase game with fully animated cutscenes), this one gave the most authentic experience. If you were a fan of the animated series, you have to check this one out.
Batman: Vengeance (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube – 2001)
Based on the final season of the classic cartoon and released by Ubisoft, Batman finds himself caught in a conspiracy after what seems to be the death of the Joker. Throwing a ton of villains at you, as well as driving and flying stages, and a lot of detective-based puzzle solving, it was the first true attempt to replicate the full experience of being Batman. While the first-person gadget mode was rather tedious, the voice acting, story, and cutscenes really immersed you.
Batman Begins (PS2/Xbox/Gamecube – 2005)
Based on the Christopher Nolan film and released by EA Games, and featuring the cast of the film, this game mixed stealth, fighting, platforming, and driving to create an interesting experience. While it was not as big a critical success, this was the game that seems to have laid the seeds for the Arkham series. And if you’re a fan of the film, it is worth checking out.
And while there are several other really notable games featuring Batman, including the Lego series and the adaption of The Brave and the Bold, these are the ones that I think have provided the biggest influence towards the current crop of games. And now, Arkham Origins is on the horizon. Batman Month is in full swing!