Later this month (17th Nov to be exact), the first season of Batman: The Telltale Series will be making its way to Switch. The story-driven adventure game take on Batman is great fun, and a unique take on the legend of the Dark Knight.
It’s great to see the caped crusader making a re-appearance on a Nintendo console, so we thought what better time to revisit the best Batman games on Nintendo so far! No matter the place on the list, we think these are all some great games!
12. Batman (Game Boy)
This is a weird one. Throwing caution to the wind, they decided to just give Batman what is blatantly a handgun for this outing. As a result, it doesn’t feel all that Batman-y, which is why we’re putting it at the bottom. It’s still quite a lot of fun to play, jumping around, shooting dudes, but not all that Batman, you know? It’s based on the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie, but Batman didn’t have a gun in the actual film.
11. Batman: Return of the Joker (Game Boy)
This platformer for the Game Boy requires some incredibly precise use of that big, grey box’s controls. In some ways this is its greatest strength, as pulling off the right moves, bat-grappling over the ceiling just right, feels incredibly satisfying. It also means that it does get a little clunky. It was of that era. This is a dexterous platformer where wrangling with just a few enemies is a dance with death. It’s also got a pretty rockin’ chiptune soundtrack.
10. Batman: Vengeance (GameCube)
Okay, maybe I’m just a sucker for anything inspired by Batman: The Animated Series. But, everyone should be a sucker for that gorgeous, beautiful version of Batman, so it’s not really something I’m going to be sorry about. Vengeance replicates the look in 3D pretty well for the time,using the GameCube’s hardware to recreate the style of the cartoon pretty convincingly.
Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill even reprise their roles as Batman and the Joker respectively. It’s a twisty, turny plot that’d be right at home in the series. The only let-down is that while it starts off quite strong, the level design does eventually get a bit drawn out and repetitive later on. Rather than improving in this game’s sequel, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, also developed by Ubisoft, these problems got worse. Still, this is a solid outing on GameCube.
9. Batman: The Video Game (NES)
It’s clunky, small, and at times just plain mean. It also has the honour of being one of the earliest Batman games, and is based on the 1989 Tim Burton movie. I’m not sure I’d like this game that much if it wasn’t for how nice Batman’s admittedly clunky movements feel to pull off. It’s all about that Ninja Gaiden inspired wall jump. The large maps, and the zoomed out view, really make you feel like Batman navigating a sequence of devious traps. Like some of the other entries at the bottom of this list, it’s still fun to boot up today, but definitely shows its age.
8. Batman: Return of the Joker (NES)
The NES version of Return of the Joker is quite a different beast to the Game Boy one. While it does make the bizarre choice of having Batman firing projectiles constantly, it really works. Think of it as a Contra take on Batman, and it begins to make sense, even if not as part of the Batman canon.
Throw in some Mega Man inspiration too, and this becomes one slick, fast-paced, shoot ’em up Batman game that is still a lot of fun to play around with even today.
7. Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame (Wii)
This is a pretty simple Batman video game, but sometimes the simple ways are the best. Based on the terrifically funny Batman: The Brave and the Bold team-up cartoon, this side-scrolling beat ’em up from the talented folk at Way Forward captures the wonderful charms of the cartoon.
Each stage plays out framed like an episode from the TV show, and has Batman team up with different partners in crime-fighting. Naturally there’s an excellent 2 player mode, too. The DS version is pretty similar, and is a good shout too. Though the Wii version is superior as it captures the looks of the show perfectly.
6. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (3DS / Wii U)
This spin-off from the rest of the Arkham series of video games takes Batman and puts him into a 2D Metroidvania game (though in a 3D drawn game world). While that series has always had one foot in Metroidvania (the first game, Arkham Asylum, in particular), this is the truest form of traditional Metroidvania for the dark knight. And it’s a genre that seems to fit him to a T. Exploring large maps, using gadgets to open new pathways. It’s so Batman.
At times it does feel a bit clunky where the somewhat 3D is at odds with the 2D perspective. Nowhere more than the combat, which can become quite a frustrating experience. Especially disappointing as the combat is so strong in the Arkham series. But, that’s a minor gripe, and Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a sprawling adventure that really scratches that pure Metroidvania itch… but with Batman!
5. The Adventures of Batman & Robin (SNES)
Again, this might be beautiful, beautiful nostalgia for me, but it’s perfectly excusable to feel that way for anything Batman: The Animated Series related. A few games go by this title, but this Konami developed SNES outing is a unique game, as was often the way back then (and I kind of love that it was).
While it does have some pretty cool investigation sequences, the bulk of the game is a standard Batman side-scroller. But it stands out by looking so gorgeously like the cartoon, and just feeling so, so right. It captures it better than Vengeance, even on an older console. Some of the things devs could do on SNES were just next level. It’s just such a warm and cosy feeling game.
4. Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 (Switch)
Well, okay, we’re basing this off of already playing this on other consoles. But unless something terrible happens to the Switch port, this is where we’d put the game. Telltale’s take on Batman has a lot of unique touches, and feels very much like its own universe. Being given carte blanche to do what feels like whatever they want to do with the license really helps the game standout. Telltale seem to be at their best adding their own flair to a license rather than being a slave to it.
Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 pulls off the excellent and long-awaited task of making what is essentially a game about Bruce Wayne rather than just Batman. As you’d expect from Telltale, this is a story-driven game with some light adventure game elements, which means that the choices you make as Wayne, the man behind the mask, are very much at the forefront, and affect the outcome of the story. There are also quite a few QTE action sequences, but as far as those sorts of things go, they’re pretty fun. We’d have liked to have seen more detective work, considering it’s an adventure game, though. Hopefully the second season will also make its way to Switch!
3. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Wii / Wii U)
I’m only giving the fantastic LEGO Batman series a single entry on this list. They’re all great, and there’s not a huge difference between them. But, with that said, LEGO Batman 2 is the pinnacle for me. It’s a sprawling Batman adventure taking place all over a LEGO version of Gotham City, and with a whole host of characters from all over the DC universe. Yet, at the same time, it has a pretty laser focus when it matters, too. It’s also the first game in the Traveler’s Tales LEGO series to feature voice acting, and it compliments the same slapstick humour wonderfully with some very well performed gags.
2. Batman Returns (SNES)
I’ll be honest, I tried to find an excuse to rank this one lower just because it tops the ranks on pretty much every Batman video game list. But for good reason. Batman Returns, based on the movie of the same name, is a superb side-scrolling beat ’em up brawler in the vein of Streets of Rage. Many games try to emulate that style, but not many games manage to pull it off quite as marvellously as Batman Returns on SNES.
There are even some more regular style side-on platforming sections and batmobile sections that help break the whole thing up. Not to mention a fun Christmas theme and a terrifying, creepy digitised version of Danny DeVito’s Penguin performance.
1. Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition (Wii U)
As with LEGO Batman, we’re placing Arkham City here in lieu of Arkham Origins, which is more of the same thing but just not quite as good (though it is still very good). Rocksteady’s Arkham series has become a bit of a benchmark for quality when it comes to modern superhero games, and despite many attempts at imitation, still remains the best at what it does. Each game has an excellent story with plenty of voice talent (including, as with Vengeance, the returning talents of Conroy & Hamill in all of the games except Origins), and plenty of nods to a huge pool of Batman lore.
It has excellent combat that almost plays out like a rhythm game, with an emphasis on chaining together hits, counters, and gadgets without interruption; and brilliant stealth sections that see you picking off goons one by one as a master of the night. But it’s how it’s all wrapped together in a big open world portion of Gotham, with Metroidvania-esque segments branching off of that. The Wii U exclusive “Armored Edition” simply adds some stronger fighting gloves for Batman, and don’t change the game very much.
Do you agree with the list? Batman has been around for so long, there wasn’t exactly a shortage to pick from!
Batman: The Telltale Series – Season 1 is out on Nintendo Switch 14th November 2017 in North America, and 17th in Europe!
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