Many gamers have played the Batman Arkham series of games, but there are some who never explored the other great Batman games of our time. The Dark Knight has an interesting history with video games, including some of his titles being viewed as some of the best on various platforms.
Now I’m sure many of you have your favorite iteration of Batman that you grew up with. Don’t take this list as a gospel for the only Batman games you should ever play. Rest easy bat-fans, I’m only here to recommend more great games that you should play. Why? Because Batman kicks ass, and we all love games that kick ass.
For the new and old Batman fans alike, here are five great Batman games that everyone should bat-dive into.
5. ’BATMAN’ FOR NES
The 1989 Tim Burton movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson revolutionized how superheroes were seen in pop culture. The Batman game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, simply called Batman, was the most popular at the time it was released. With influences from other action games like Ninja Gaiden, Batman is considered one of the best titles on the Nintendo Entertainment System. You won’t find any cheesy Adam West punch bubbles here because of the movie’s gothic style, which influenced the game.
The cutscenes between each level are loosely based on events from the film, which set a grim tone with foreboding music. As Batman, you punch out legions of enemies over the course of five levels before a final showdown with The Joker. This leads to an awesome money-shot of Batman punching the Joker over the edge of a cliff and watching him fall to his death. If that doesn’t give you enough reason to play this game, there may be something wrong with you.
4. ‘BATMAN RETURNS’
The sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman film had multiple video game adaptations. While the Super Nintendo had a Batman Returns game similar to the Final Fight series, the Sega Genesis and Sega-CD had a totally different take on the next Batman movie. This was an action game that had Batman utilizing a wide array of bat-gadgets—oh yes, all of those wonderful toys.
Previous games allowed you to use a few gadgets against foes during combat, but now you felt like you had an arsenal under your utility belt. The pause menu gave you a choice from many iconic bat-gadgets, including Baterangs and a flurry of wild bats. You could also just be “old school” and beat criminals down with your bare hands, but why get dirty when you can easily dispatch them with a cool gadget? The Sega-CD version also included extra bonus levels that gave you control of the Batmobile, but only for a short time.
3. ‘THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN & ROBIN’
Batman and Robin go together smoothly like peanut butter and jelly. No I’m not talking about that terrible Schumacher movie! I’m referring to the deliciously good video game tie-in to Batman: The Animated Series. The Adventures of Batman and Robin gave us exactly what we wanted: to fight crime as Batman and Robin together.
There were two different versions of the game, for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. What made the Genesis version unique was the cooperative levels and the three-dimensional level background details. Many of Batman’s villains from the show appeared as boss fights at the end of each level, with more appearing in the Super Nintendo version. The Adventures of Batman and Robin highlighted all the fun aspects of the dynamic duo we’ve loved since the days of the Adam West television show.
2. ‘BATMAN’ IN ARCADES
If there is any good thing that the Schumacher movies taught us, it was that everyone loves the Batmobile. The Batmobile is one of the most iconic vehicles in the history, but has seldom been a centralized focus of Batman video games. The Batman arcade game from 2013 allows you to pilot the Batmobile in a shooter-style driving game as you save Gotham City from various Batman villains.
The game appeals to your nostalgia by including different models of the Batmobile from various iterations of the Dark Knight’s saga. Every Batmobile from the Adam West show to the Nolan trilogy is present and accounted for. The roster of Batmobiles all control similar but still have you feeling like a badass when driving around Gotham City. Now hopefully you can find an arcade in which to play this one.
1. ‘BATMAN BEGINS’
Modern interpretations of Batman focus on stealth combat. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy made this mainstream with Batman Begins and the official movie licensed video game. The game followed the events of the movie closely without a lot of creative liberties. The Nolan universe didn’t care too much about crazy gadgets or flamboyant looking villains; it was all about being grounded in reality.
The game had a lot of emphasis placed on Batman scaring the crap out of criminals. You build up a reputation in-game by taking actions to make criminals superstitious and complete level objectives. The gameplay was very similar to stealth action games like Splinter Cell, where being spotted usually meant quick death by gunfire. Batman is human after all and can be killed by a gun, so it makes perfect sense in Nolan’s universe. This doesn’t mean you can’t still be a badass and stylishly take down the Scarecrow; you just had to be smart and practical about it.
Jakejames Lugo is a freelance writer who has been playing video games his entire life. When not fighting evil in the digital realm, he’s usually watching movies or practicing with his nunchucks. You can follow him on Twitter @Venomousfatman1.
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