I love Lego Marvel Super Heroes, completing it 100% on the Xbox 360 and mere months later when I purchased a PS4, I double-dipped on the game, again reaching 100% completion. I also loved it so much that I picked up the 3DS version of the game, subtitled “Universe in Peril,” and I thought it was a terrible excuse of a game that besmirched the excellent Lego group of video games. Being a sucker for punishment and with much trepidation, as well as with no reviews to go upon, I picked up the 3DS version of Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham upon getting my platinum trophy in the PS4 game of the same name. I’ve returned from the front lines and I’m very happy to report that fans of Lego Batman 3, or simply Lego games, should consider adding this to their collection for some Lego action on the go.
Lego Batman 3 on the 3DS isn’t a game you’re going to want to jump into right away if you’re a fan of the console game, as it follows the same story line of the game and even recycles all of the same cut-scenes. The level layouts themselves are also very similar, though altered slightly to fit the limitations of the considerably underpowered handheld. Some levels feel like they’re copy-pasted right out of the console game while others feel like they’re missing an objective or two for the sake of trimming things down, but I never felt like it took away from the game, rather the exact opposite. I came off really impressed that the team who assembled this was able to squeeze as much as they could into this tiny cart, especially after last years half-hearted Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril.
One new addition I rather liked about last year’s Universe in Peril was the additions of in-level objectives, such as beating so many enemies, collecting so many items, etc. They make a return here and they’re managed much better as they replace the regular minikit hunts normally found in other Lego titles. Each level will give you a certain number of objectives like smash three Joker/Batman/Lex Luthor items, collect a card, counter so many enemies in a way I can only describe as “kids introduction to Arkham” fighting, among a few others. What’s great about all of these is that most of the time you’ll accomplish most by accident by smashing things just trying to progress. Something I didn’t like about Universe in Peril, the fact that your progression cut-off until you retreived so many gold bricks, returns here but it never stalls your progress one bit, making you wonder why they even put it in the game to begin with. To proceed to the next stage you’ll have to assemble a vehicle or item in either the Batcave or Watchtower hub-worlds which requires a set number of gold bricks, however the number is so low that I didn’t have to replay any levels once. By the end I believe I needed somewhere around 20-30 to progress when I had accumulated well over 100.
The single best new feature in this fall’s Lego game is how when you return to a level in freeplay mode, it’s broken down into three sections where you can clearly see what you’re missing (red brick, minikit piece, etc.,), making returning to levels less tedious and hunting down things easier than its ever been before. Lego Batman 3’s stages are broken down in a similar way only it occurs right from the start in the main story levels, so each of the 15 missions are broken down into -1, -2 and -3 parts. Structuring the game like this makes it perfect for the platform it’s on, as you easily jump into a part of a level, complete it within a few minutes, then put your system to sleep or shut it down completely.
A noticeable omission from the 3DS SKU of Lego Batman 3 is the bonus Batman ’66 level, easily one of the single best parts of the game elsewhere, though you still can unlock the Batman variant in freeplay mode. This of course also means that the “Adam West in Peril” bonus objective, complete with vocals from the actor himself, is missing as well, which is real shame, but there is a silver lining to this. Conan O’Brien, another celebrity who appeared in the console version of this game, has also been left on the cutting room floor. While I normally find O’Brien funny, his recycled unfunny dialogue that triggered every time you walked around in the hub worlds was one of the low points of the game, so not having this is a decent trade off for the lack of Adam West.
A diversion from the traditional smash-and-build Lego formula came in the form of a 2-D space shooter mini-game in several parts in the console version of this game, something you won’t find here, however in its place is something that actually better. You still play a space shooter, but it’s in the form of a on-rails Star Fox-esque experience complete with double tapping the trigger button barrel rolls. This may be a personal preference as the Star Fox series of games, especially the first two, are of my favorite games of all time, but for me, I actually looked forward to these levels whereas I didn’t so much in the PS4 game, again this is my own taste as I’ve never been a fan of 2-D space-shooter games, even when they’re included in a Lego game.
It’s unreasonable to expect this game to look anywhere near as good as on a console, but the graphics do get the job done, thought the minifig characters due look a little too “glossy” for lack of a better word. You can play the entire game in 3-D but I strongly recommended playing with the slider all the way down as the only thing the 3-D really adds to the game is a shorter battery life. The bottom screen serves several functions: swapping between characters, changing suits with characters who have that ability and a simple hacking game with Robin’s techno suit, and the interface is very user-friendly. The only real complaint is that it takes a little too long to switch between characters in freeplay mode as you have to cycle through a few rings of characters to get to the one you want whereas on console you just pick from a large menu.
After the extremely disappointing and frustrating Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril, my expectations had nowhere to go but up when I put Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham in the cartridge slot of my 3DS, and the finished result was something I’m glad I played. You get the full story from the console game, bite-sized levels excellently suited for short pick-up and play sessions and I very much appreciated the on-rails space shooting segments over what was present in every other version of the game. Lego fans looking for a great game to play on the go need not hesitate in picking up this latest entry for their 3DS.