Top 5 Batman Games You May Not Know
For comic and superhero film fans, the early part of 2016 is all about Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Say what you will about Zack Snyder’s previous Superman film, Man Of Steel, there’s not much that can stop the public from being excited about, or at least intrigued by, a new Batman.
But unfortunately that’s bound to lead to a little bit of frustration in the next couple months, as we wait eagerly to finally see Ben Affleck as the caped crusader, likely with only a few more images and trailer teases to ease our impatience. No matter how impatient we are, this film isn’t coming out until late March. And in the meantime—if you’re like me—you’ll probably be rehashing old Batman content to pass the time. This means watching the Burton movies, watching the Nolan movies, and for a lot of people replaying the exceptional Arkham gaming series. And it’s that last idea I want to expand on…
The Arkham series pretty much drew the curtain on any debate over the best titles in superhero gaming. The games are just vastly superior to any and all superhero games that came before and have yet to be replicated with any other popular comic hero as a main focus. But they also became so popular and well regarded that they’ve managed to obscure pretty much every other Batman game ever made. So if you’re in the midst of a few months of hardcore Dawn Of Justice prep and you’re not into replaying the Arkham games, what can you do? For one thing, check out these five Batman games you may have forgotten about.
LEGO Batman: The Videogame
This one shouldn’t require much explanation. The LEGO action video games have become hugely popular, pretty much no matter what their subject matter is. But somehow this one seems to get overlooked. A lot of people preferred the sequel, or LEGO DC Superheroes. Both are great, but if you’re looking for a starting point for some fresh Batman entertainment, this first one is the one to go for. Released in 2008 for Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3, it earned the strong reviews we’ve come to expect from the LEGO games, and was just generally a whole lot of fun. Gamerankings described the action as consisting largely of rounding up escaped Arkham Asylum inmates, which is pretty standard for Batman games but almost more fun in the goofy context of a LEGO game.
Some have come to view this 2005 game as a sort of lesser predecessor to the Arkham series. Really, the two have nothing to do with each other, and this game actually stands pretty nicely on its own. Made for Xbox, PS2 and GameCube, it’s obviously a little bit dated now, but at the time it was a pretty advanced stealth/adventure game. The gameplay felt like a Batman-infused version of the Splinter Cell series, and the plot followed the story of the first Nolan film (also called Batman Begins) almost exactly, complete with voice acting by Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson and others. Really, it was a rare example of a film-based game that worked quite well.
This is another Batman game that was released for the Xbox, PS2 and GameCube, and it may actually be even better than Batman Begins. Reviews were mixed, but that was partially due to the limited first-person mode, so if you get your hands on this game just try to avoid said mode. Overall, it was a surprisingly engaging game from a story perspective, despite not being based on a particular movie. It was also probably the best pre-Arkham game of the 2000s in terms of its cast of characters, featuring Batman, Batgirl, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Joker, Alfred, and even Harley Quinn, among others. And yes, this is one of many instances in which Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) voiced the Joker!
Superhero-themed slot machine games have become pretty popular online, largely because they’re just more interesting than similar games with invented themes or unpopular characters. But this one also excels because of a few mini-games and special features that involve Batman a little more directly. Gala Bingo describes the game as including a “Descent into Madness” feature as a sort of bonus along with a chance to target inmates with the Batarang and capture the Joker. That’s a lot of action for a slot machine and makes this a pretty enjoyable Batman arcade option for people who like this sort of gaming.
The Dark Knight Rises
This may just be the most accessible game on the list at this point, simply because it was designed as a mobile app rather than an online or console experience. It was loosely based on the Nolan film of the same name and clearly inspired by the Arkham series in that it brought a satisfying open-world format to mobile platforms. As for its overall quality, IGN aptly characterized this game as “a perfect example of both the best and the worst that mobile gaming has to offer.” Basically, this is a fair statement due to the game’s sensational environment and severely limited action. Still, if you just want to glide around Gotham and dispatch countless waves of thugs, this is well worth a download.