When the collective gaming world got their hands on Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, many praised it for being the Batman game they’ve always been waiting for. But, when you look at the character of Batman, you have to wonder why it exactly took so long to finally get it right. In many respects, the world of Batman almost perfectly wraps itself in a nice little package for game developers to build from, much more than any other character in either DC or Marvel’s stable. So to back up my claim, here’s my five reasons I feel Batman is the easier character to build a game around.
5) ROGUE’S GALLERY
SEE: EVERY BATMAN GAME EVER
Rivaling Spider-Man’s, Batman has one of the most recognizable gallery of villains in comic-dom. The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, these are all names that are so well known to the point where my parents would probably know who they are, and they don’t care too much for comics. Compare that to a character like Iron Man, who most people didn’t know had his own group of villains until 2008, or Captain America. In having a conversation with someone about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they didn’t know that Arnim Zola was a walking TV with a camera in his head, but more than likely knew that Harvey Dent had more than one face.
4) “WHERE DOES HE GET ALL THOSE WONDERFUL TOYS”
SEE: BATMAN “ARKHAM” (SERIES,) THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (SNES,) BATMAN: VENGEANCE (GC/PS2/XBOX)
One thing I’m a sucker for in video games is getting new toys to play with. Whether it’s that new weapon I get from a fallen robot master in MegaMan, or the boots that allow me to double jump in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, I get a thrill from getting a new toy to play around with.
No one has better toys than Batman.
Look no further than the “Arkham” games to demonstrate the diversity of Batman’s utility belt: batarangs (remote-controlled or sonic,) grappling cables, smoke pellets, weapon distributors, the only limit is the imagination of the creator designing new additions to Batman’s arsenal. Batman games could exist for hundreds of years and people would still be thinking up new gadgets to aid in his never-ending crusade against crime. Here’s hoping for oceanic Bat-repellent in Batman: Arkham Knight for the Great White Shark boss fight.
3) “IT’S THE CAR, RIGHT? CHICKS DIG THE CAR”
SEE: BATMAN BEGINS (GC/PS2/XBOX)
Not since the G-6155 Interceptor rolled out the back of a van in Spyhunter has their ever been a cooler car to drive in a video game than the Batmobile: a sleek, turbo charged car with an arsenal of who knows how many weapons. The car is so famous in fact that a few companies have created games that lock Batman in the car, though the results aren’t really that great. A Batman game doesn’t have to be limited to the Batmobile though, as you could put “Bat” in front of most vehicles and make them fun to play.
2) DIFFERENT ITERATIONS OF THE CHARACTER
SEE: BATMAN (NES,) BATMAN RETURNS (SNES,) THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (SNES,) BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (NINTENDO DS/NINTENDO Wii)
They’re probably more Batman games than any other comic book character, again maybe with the exception of Spider-Man, and in that list of games, very few are even based in the world of the comic. Video games really came into the mainstream in the mid-80’s with the NES, and in many ways Batman exploded into pop culture around that time as well. Since the Tim Burton Batman film came out in ’89, there’s been a multitude of Batman feature films as well as animated series that companies have drawn inspiration from when making Batman games. A lot of those, including Batman on NES, Batman Returns and The Adventures of Batman and Robin on the SNES have been some of the best games I’ve ever played.
Not all Batman games even starred the character in the traditional sense. The late 90’s Batman: The Animated Series follow-up series Batman Beyond also was turned into a video game, buuuutt those are best looked at another time. There’s also the Lego Batman franchise. which is getting its third chapter this fall.
SEE: EVERY BATMAN GAME EVER
Batman’s greatest asset to the video game world is, believe it or not, his ability to die. If you die in a Superman beat-em-up or a Thor game, you are hearby given my permission to scream what ever obscenity you want at your TV screen. Heck, I’ll even give you Spider-Man as he’s got a built in sense for danger. You die in a Batman game though, hey, he’s just a man, what do you expect?
Okay, Batman’s awesome and I’ve seen the memes but long story short, he gets shot, falls off a cliff or gets beaten enough he’s not getting back up. No game developer ever has to think of a creative reason like a virtual reality world, kryponite bullets or magically enchanted enemies to explain why Batman has a depleting health meter.