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Be The Batman - 40 years of the Caped Crusader in video games

Be The Batman - 40 years of the Caped Crusader in video games

By Todd Nash

Be The Batman - 40 years of the Caped Crusader in video games

By Todd Nash - 20th Sep 2020

A brief look at Batman's video game history

Be The Batman - 40 years of the Caped Crusader in video games

Without a doubt, Batman is one of the most popular DC superheroes - with a huge franchise including movies, toys and games.

Since the 1980s, Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego have appeared in around 40 video games across multiple platforms. Here, we take a look at just a few of the Dark Knight’s video game appearances over the past three decades, from the ZX Spectrum to modern day.

Batman (1986)

Batman (1986)

Released on: Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, MSX, Sinclair ZX Spectrum

This 3D isometricaction-adventure was Batman's first in the gaming world. In the game, Batman has to embark on a mission to rescue Robin by collecting the seven parts of the Batman hovercraft scattered around the Batcave.

It was later remade for PC and released by Retrospec in 2010.

Batman (1989)

Batman (1989)

Released on: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, GX4000, MS-DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum

Arriving in the same year as the Batman film starring Michael Keaton, Batman (1989) saw players take up the role as the Caped Crusader and complete five stages based on events in the movie, each with a time limit.

The game also featured the Batmobile and a showdown with Joker on top of Gotham Cathedral. Gamers clearly enjoyed it though as Batman hit number one in the Spectrum charts for February 1990, and was awarded Game of the Year by Crash magazine.

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns (1992)

Released on: Amiga, Atari Lynx, Game Gear, Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega-CD, MS-DOS, NES, SNES

Based on the movie of the same name, starring Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns was created for eight different platforms in the early 90s. The game offered a variety of genres, from beat 'em up to adventures.

Players really got the feel of 'being the Batman' as the game offered awesome combat mechanics for its time - including punch-kick combos and blocks, as well as batarang and cape attacks.

The Adventures of Batman and Robin (1994)

The Adventures of Batman and Robin (1994)

Released on: SNES, Sega CD/Mega-CD, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear

Based on the popular 90s animated series of the same name, The Adventures of Batman and Robin follows the Caped Crusader and his sidekick throughout stages as they try to defeat the famous gallery of villains.

The action-adventure title was released on four different consoles between 1994 and 1995, with the versions having slight differences. Each console's version had different stories and slight variations on gameplay, for instance, the Genesis version was a run 'n' gun title as opposed to a platformer that the SNES title was.

Fans and critics alike praised the game for its challenging puzzles.

Batman & Robin (1998)

Batman & Robin (1998)

Released on: PlayStation

Based on the movie plot for Batman & Robin, starring George Clooney as the Dark Knight, the game introduced an open-world element to Batman video games. Set in Gotham City, the player could control Batman, Robin or Batgirl and most events were triggered as specific times - but you could alter the clock, so lengthy waits were not an issue.

Batman Vengeance (2001)

Batman Vengeance (2001)

Released on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Windows, Xbox, PC

This sixth generation release was based on the TV series The New Batman Adventures and starred most of the main voice cast, including Kevin Conroy as Batman. The third-person platformer, which also included shooter elements, sees Batman go up against his arch nemesis, Joker, as well as a number of other well-known baddies such as Harley Quinn and Mr Freeze.

Reviews were fairly average from critics and fans alike.

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins (2005)

Released on Game Boy Advance, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox

Following the 2005 movie’s plot very closely, Dark Knight fans got to play the game a day before the blockbuster came out - spoilers much. The game featured a unique 'intimidation' system to overpower thugs, coinciding with the ability to utilize the environment to frighten opponents with traditional stealth gameplay.

Batman Begins received G4’s award for 'Best Graphics on PS2 and Xbox’.

Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008)

Lego Batman: The Videogame (2008)

Released on: Steam PC, Mac OS X, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Xbox 360

Batman's first blocky adventure. The tried and tested LEGO format took the broody, spandex-wearing hero into a funny story full of slapstick humor.

Within the game, you can unlock 46 playable characters from the generic Police Officer to the infamous Two-Face. Like other LEGO titles, each character has special abilities and weapons that can allow them to access certain areas and complete specific puzzles.

Lego Batman: The Videogame currently sits at a 'Very Positive' rating from 1,800 Steam reviews.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

Released on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Steam PC, Mac OS X

A multi award-winning game series from Rocksteady Games, Arkham Asylum was the first in the Arkham series and won a variety of awards for its powerful narrative, intense combat system and vast game world to explore. It held the Guinness World Record for “Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever” and is well worth a playthrough.

Jump into the critically acclaimed Arkham series now with Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition, available at fanatical.com

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

Released on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Mac OS X, Steam PC

Beyond the gates of the asylum, Batman: Arkham City opened up Gotham to players, allowing them to freely roam the streets and glide above the rooftops as the Caped Crusader - in a game world that's five times larger than Arkham Asylum!

A roster of Gotham City's notorious criminals have come out to play, including Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Mr. Freeze and many more. After Bruce Wayne opposes plans to build a 'criminal city' to house villains and criminals, TYGER mercenaries intercepts and imprisons Wayne within the newly-founded city.

After obtaining his equipment and donning the famous suit, Bats must embark on quests to bring down gangs and DC's ever-famous super villains to prevent the launch of Protocol 10, which could wipe out the entire population of Gotham City.

The Batman: Arkham City - Game of the Year Edition is available right now on the Fanatical Store!

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012)

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012)

Released on: Android, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Steam PC, Mac OS X

Featuring full voice acting, Lego Batman 2 built upon the foundations laid by the original Lego Batman game. This time, Batman is joined by heroes and villains from other DC properties, including the Man of Steel himself, to take down The Joker and Lex Luthor, amongst a host of other super villains.

Featuring an open-world gameworld, the title received praise from critics for being an innovation on previous Lego titles.

Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)

Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)

Released on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Steam PC

The Batman: Arkham name remained, but Origins saw a new developer take on the task of delivering a gripping Batman action-adventure game. WB Games sought to take players back to Batman and Bruce Wayne's earlier days in a wintry Gotham City, telling the tale of how Batman evolved into the brutal crime-fighting hero that we see today.

The game also saw a switch in voice actors, with Roger Craig Smith taking on the voice of the Dark Knight from Rocksteady's Arkham actor choice Kevin Conway; as well as Troy Baker taking on the role of The Joker, which is played by Mark Hamill in the other three games.

In a story filled with shocking twists and thrilling turns, Batman find himself in being hunted by eight of the deadliest assassins from the DC Comics Universe on Christmas Eve (not fair, right?). The Caped Crusader must battle through dangerous districts taking on Black Mask, Deathstroke, Bane, Deadshot, Anarky, The Joker and many more.

Batman: Arkham Origins is available to buy right now on the Fanatical Store.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (2014)

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (2014)

Released on: Android, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Steam PC, Mac OS X

The third game in the toy-inspired trilogy. With over 150 characters to control, the roster in Lego Batman 3 is the largest of any Batman game to date. Plus, it takes Batman out of Gotham and into the Hall of Justice and the Justice League Watchtower,

In the title, players are able to swap to different suits in order to activate special powers. For example, Robin's magnet suit allows the Boy Wonder to climb up magnetic walls and special switches.

Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)

Released on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam PC

An epic send-off to what was a very popular selection of games. Batman: Arkham Knight was the fastest-selling game in the whole series and introduced the Batmobile as a playable vehicle.

Expanding Batman’s arsenal of gadgets and combat attacks, and creating a large amount of playable missions, tasks and riddles, Arkham Knight lets you explore the entirety of Gotham city - if you wanted to feel like Batman, this is the game for you.

Experience the final chapter in the epic Arkham series with Batman: Arkham Knight Premium Edition.

Batman: The Telltale Series (2016)

Batman: The Telltale Series (2016)

Released on: Steam PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch

The unmissable point and click adventure games by Telltale Games have explored many different series, including The Walking Dead and Minecraft, but the five-episode strong Batman series has to be one of the best they've produced.

It's atmosphere and action sequences create an enthralling portrayal of the Dark Knight and the episodes all feature a variety of characters from the famous butler Alfred to the less known reported Vicki Vale.

Be The Batman - 40 years of the Caped Crusader in video games

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