10 Best Batman Games
Like his cinematic history, Batman's gaming library has its fair share of ups and downs. We are presenting this list of the 10 Best Batman Games in order to remember what makes a quality title starring the Caped Crusader. The Dark Knight is the hero that gaming needs but doesn't deserve, so let us pay homage with our list of the 10 Best Batman Games.
The predecessor to the forgettable Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, Batman: Vengeance comes into action first on our list of 10 Best Batman Games. Ubisoft based Vengeance off of The New Batman Adventures television series (the followup to Batman: The Animated Series). Vengeance's gameplay was relatively stagnant (as were most Batman titles back then), but its story, voice acting ( featuring Conroy, Hamill and the rest of the animated series' staff), cinematics and level design were great. Vengeance starts off with Batman looking over Gotham from atop a gargoyle statue and eventually all hell breaks loose throughout the city. After saving Gotham and locking up Joker, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in Arkham Asylum, Batman simply returns to the same gargoyle and resumes his vigilance over Gotham like nothing happened.
Lego Batman, unlike his Lego Indiana Jones and Star Wars counterparts, was the first licensed Lego video game to feature an original story which simply did not regurgitate its source material. Lego Batman featured the Batcave as the central hub for the hero characters (Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing), and Arkham Asylum for the villain characters. Like the series' canon, the Batcrew was able to switch their default costumes for Batsuits that had secondary abilities, such as a Glide suit, Demolition suit, Magnet suit and Heat Protection suit. Lego Batman also had the privilege to feature Danny Elfman's iconic musical score from the 1989 film (which went on to influence the soundtrack for Batman: The Animated Series).
After immense success with Sunsoft's first NES Batman game, its sequel, Return of the Joker, tried to bring Bat-gaming to where it was in the comic series. As a result, Batman looked much different, had that blue tint which plagued his early '90s costumes, and had a plethora of weaponry used in beating up bad guys. In fact, Return of the Joker had almost too much weaponry, it played like a side-scrolling shoot 'em up/run-and-gun. We're guessing the developers over at Sunsoft didn't know that Batman despised using guns and killing people, because this title broke Batman's cardinal rule hundreds of times per level. Nevertheless, Return of the Joker functioned extremely well as a standalone shooter.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin titles reflect how different titles can be despite coming out for both the SNES and Sega Genesis. The SNES title was more oriented towards choosing the best bad-gadgets and much slower paced. The Sega Genesis version was just balls-to-the-wall action on par with a Contra-level of difficulty and craziness. Both were very different, and if we were forced to choose, we would probably say that the Genesis version functioned better in terms of playability and mechanics, though the SNES felt a bit more like Batman, despite its slow pacing. We'll never forget Joker's Funland and the climactic fight atop the moving roller coaster.
We know, Injustice: Gods Among Us isn't primarily a Batman title, but a fighter that featured a huge roster of DC characters from multiple franchises. But having Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Solomon Grundy, Bane, Catwoman, Deathstroke, Nightwing and Batgirl make up about 30% of the entire roster, it certainly feels like a Batman title to us. Toss in NetherRealms Studio's mastery of making fighting games and we have a fighter that features the DC universe, but plays like a perfected version of the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot. Still don't think that Injustice sounds like a Batman title? Its plot starts off with The Joker tricking Superman into killing Lois Lane. Now that is a killing joke.
Halfway through our list of the 10 Best Batman Games, we have another Bat-title that is comprised of multiple DC comic franchises. DC Super Heroes lives up to its namesake in featuring nearly 50 characters from all over the DC universe, it even has more characters than Injustice did! When Lex Luthor and The Joker synthesize Kryptonite and demolish Wayne Manor, its up to Batman and the rest of the Justice League to restore order. Here's to hoping that Braniac's cameo will spark the conflict of Lego Batman 3.
The original NES Batman may not have made it to our list of the 25 Best 2D Platformers, but that has to do with its insane difficulty (Batman would probably be entry #26 if the list were to be expanded). The NES original has little to do with Tim Burton's film beside its ending, but it is still an excellent title that brings your wall-jumping and platforming abilities to the brink. Much like Return of the Joker, Sunsoft gave the Bat a bunch of ranged weapons in order to dispatch a multitude of enemies. But toss in electrified coils, spiked roofs and pitfalls, and we find out Batman's #1 tool isn't a Batarang or the Batmobile, it's the wall-jump.
Headed by Konami, the SNES version of Batman Returns is one of our favorite side-scrolling beat 'em ups of all time. Much like Burton's sequel, Batman has to the fight the Penguin's carny crew and eventually The Penguin and Catwoman. But this title takes liberties, such as having Batman fighting The Penguin's duck vehicle. Even better, this was one of the only Batman titles where we got to control the Batmobile in order to take out carnies on motorcycles. We must admit, The Penguin played Gotham like a harp from hell.
Arkham Asylum revolutionized gaming as the Caped Crusader and was a proper answer to nearly a decade of failed Batman titles (like those god-awful Batman Forever and Batman Begins tie-ins). Arkham Asylum was beautiful and stylistic, featuring a Halloween-esque theme applied to much of the environment. The moon was huge and had a greenish hue at times and Arkham itself felt alive and seemed like one of the most unlikely places for psychologically-challenged supervillains to get rehabilitation (no wonder they never got cured). More importantly, it simply felt like the quintessential Batman story, especially when Harley Quinn releases every supervillain from their cell and how The Joker took advantage of their presence. Our jaws hit the floor during that scene when Batman put explosive gel onto his fist and falcon-punched The Joker.
Topping off our list of the 10 Best Batman Games is one of the only sequels to exceed its predacessor. Arkham City took everything amazing about Arkham Asylum and expanded it, just like Arkham itself, onto the mainland of Gotham. The resulting experience is a quarantined portion of Gotham City that has been fully taken over by various factions of supervillains, with only Batman there to try and restore order. True to the Bat's mythos, it was great to see The Joker, Two-Face, and The Penguin's men all at war with each other while dealing with the presence of other villains and the inevitable wrath of Batman. It was very tough to choose a favorite between Asylum and City, but we chose Arkham City due to its open-world gameplay while staying true to and expanding upon the Batman universe. With a stellar plot and unbelievable ending, it would make sense that the next Arkham title not try to continue beyond Arkham City, so here's to hoping that Arkham Origins will live up to the superb level of quality Rocksteady has brought with the first two Arkham titles.