Game Review

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Deluxe Edition Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano

The broken Bat

For as long as portable games have existed, the trend of developing handheld versions of popular console titles has been present and correct. These games tend to be inferior versions of the originals, taking a substantial hit graphically and often limiting gameplay, depending on what the portable console is capable of. In some cases, handheld ports even defeat the game’s original purpose, making their existence as a quick cash-in entirely transparent. This probably isn’t news to anyone who has been playing video games in the past 20 years, but the surprising thing is that we’re beginning to see the opposite happen with 3DS titles. Starting with Resident Evil: Revelations and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, developers are beginning to take notice of the success of particular handheld games, then reinvent them for current home consoles. The most recent portable title to get the big-screen treatment is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate – Deluxe Edition, a case in which the word “deluxe” is used very loosely.

If you’ve already played Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate when it originally released on the 3DS, then it’s likely that you’ll find absolutely nothing new here beyond a high-definition coat of paint. The same storyline is retained, featuring a small cast of Batman’s most iconic villains taking over Blackgate prison, and the gameplay hasn’t changed at all. This 2D Metroidvania style platformer with beat-em-up action is nothing more than a re-release of a game that was never all that great to begin with. If that sounds like something you might be interested in playing, keep reading before you reach for your wallet. Everyone else will likely know what we're going to say here.

Blackgate – Deluxe Edition, despite being on the Wii U, controls almost identically to the 3DS version, minus the use of the touchscreen. The controls will feel familiar to anyone who played the original, but that familiarity is not necessarily a good thing. The controls being recognizable may help in that players accustomed to them will feel comfortable right from the beginning, but they’ll also immediately recognize that the problems plaguing the original game still haven't been fixed, especially those related to manoeuvring. Batman still feels heavy, with sluggish movements and sometimes unresponsive controls. Dodging and countering – necessary actions for players interested in not dying – don’t always work when the right buttons are pressed, and combat is still just as chaotic.

An attempt was made in this game to allow Batman to move fluidly from one enemy to another during combat just as he does in Arkham Origins or any of the other console Arkham games, but the implementation of three-dimensional combat in a two-dimensional world puts limitations on what can be done. Rather than smoothly clobbering one thug in the face before moving onto the next, the Caped Crusader will often attack one enemy, then jettison himself in the complete opposite direction instead.

As a game with heavy focus on exploration and backtracking, having a world map always available to you via the GamePad’s screen seems useful at a glance, but the fact that it doesn’t support touch navigation completely misses the point. As it stands, the only map area that you can see on the screen is the room that you’re currently in and those immediately surrounding it. To explore the map further or zoom in and out, you still need to bring up your Batcomputer – the canonical term for your menu – and navigate from the television screen. The GamePad does support off-TV play, but even then the controller doesn’t react to touch input when looking at the map or inventory. Beyond improving the graphics during gameplay, any opportunities to enhance this game and make it more than an HD port were ignored, especially the features that are specific to the Wii U. If you ignore the beefed-up visuals, what exactly makes this game “deluxe” is beyond us.

The best part of the handheld iteration was the use of beautifully drawn motion comics used to convey story elements between gameplay. These make a return in the HD port, but something has gone wrong in the process. While they retain the same comic book style and are animated just enough to be entertaining to watch, it’s obvious that the motion comics weren’t upscaled to the necessary resolution. When looked at too closely, or when looked at with the expectations of high definition, it’s obvious that these cutscenes are grainy, full of blurred lines and jagged edges that don’t look at all good on the big screen.

While the meat of the game does look better than it did on the 3DS, especially when compared to the cinematics, this proves to be a double-edged sword. The environments and character models are much more detailed and textured, but this also means that it’s more obvious when graphical errors occur. We can’t begin to count the number of times we saw Batman’s fists and feet sail right through his enemies on attack, the limbs of downed baddies sink into the floor, and Batman’s cape pass through walls like a spectral sheet. At one point during play, the Dark Knight lunged right through an enemy and out of the environment, eventually dying after about 20 seconds of being lost in the vast nothingness. It seems that even Batman himself wants nothing to do with this game.

Exploration and repeated environments are in the nature of the Metroidvania genre, but going from one area to another and back again in Blackgate – Deluxe Edition is rather boring. The environments don’t change, and while they look good with their new coat of paint, they’re still not particularly interesting to look at. The enemies that you encounter in each area are also bland, repeating the same cookie-cutter prisoners and thugs in every location. This is all justified by the fact that you’re exploring a prison full of prisoners, thus accounting for the lack of attractive environments and variety in enemy type, but it makes for an uninteresting experience for the player. The bleak, grey reality of prison is clear, but it doesn’t make for a fun experience from the outside.

Conclusion

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate – Deluxe Edition is as problematic as its title is long. The cinematics are ugly, the controls aren’t as responsive as they need to be, and the characters and environments are boring. The most offensive part of all of this, however, is the fact that none of the issues that the original version faced were addressed, leaving players with a sloppily put together platformer that isn’t much fun to play. Like the 3DS version that came before it, this game is full of great ideas that are poorly executed, making for a disappointing experience overall. Almost everything has been left exactly the same, and the changes that have been made only provide cosmetic alterations rather than much needed enhancements. It’s not entirely fair to say that this game is worse than the 3DS version, but it’s certainly just as underwhelming.

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User Comments (47)

LunaticPandora

#1

LunaticPandora said:

Is the regular, portable version equally disappointing, or is it just the supposed "deluxe" version that's naff?

Beechbone

#2

Beechbone said:

Didn't play the 3DS version but the home console edition really disappoints on every aspect.

MixMasterMudkip

#8

MixMasterMudkip said:

Ugh... I skipped the 3DS version for this. Whatever, as a fan of the series I'll probably still get this. :/

FullbringIchigo

#9

FullbringIchigo said:

I gave up on this game when it glitched at the last door so it would not open thus I could not finish the game plus it auto saved as it did it so i can't even reload it and try again and no way am I working my way through that chore fest again

SuperSNESLiam

#10

SuperSNESLiam said:

I was going to buy this but thanks to this review, I'm going to save my money on the next NES Remix or another GBA game. Thanks!

PinkSpider

#11

PinkSpider said:

I Completely disagree I really enjoyed the 3DS version but don't really have another reason to buy it. If it were half the price I would get it.
It's far from perfect I'll admit but it's not broken or unplayable.

DESS-M-8

#12

DESS-M-8 said:

I got this and actually quite like it, for a £16 game it looks and plays brilliant. Characters look like in arkham city. The combat controls sold me, it plays just like the main arkham games, not really sure what the reviewer was doing wrong, that's never happened to me.
This isn't arkham city or origins, but at a third of the price, it was never gonna be.

A huge plus over arkham origins is that at least you can boot and play using just the gamepad. The amount of times I've taken the gamepad upstairs and gone to play arkham origins, only to find it's impossible to play it on the gamepad without going back downstairs to navigate the tv screen menu to turn the gamepad mode on. Utterly ridiculous. This has actually more more game time than arkham origins for that very reason,

readyletsgo

#14

readyletsgo said:

And sales for this version will be terrible so WBs will say there is no interest in the WiiU as well and not develop another game for it,, but they will ignore the fact that's it's gonna sell terrible on all other consoles too with these bad reviews.

Nintendo just can't win. I was gonna get this but as someone already said above, I'll pick up the new NES Remix2 and another game for the same price.

shad0w-7

#15

shad0w-7 said:

@DESS-M-8 How to switch to Gamepad mode on Arkham Origins without using TV:

1) Start game. When Gamepad shows WayneTech logo, press +. Wait 20 seconds.
2) You would have started at the default save location, so just press a to select it the default one.
3) Wait two seconds, then press down and a.
4) Wait two seconds, press up and a.

That should switch you to Gamepad. I do it all the time as my TV is not with me at the moment.

shad0w-7

#16

shad0w-7 said:

I played the demo on XBOX360 this morning. Not too bad. I am considering getting it.

AcridSkull

#17

AcridSkull said:

Assuming this is ported from the Vita version then are the game breaking bugs fixed that they simply couldn't be bothered to patch out of the 3DS version?

5 hours in and I can't use the lift because of a glitch, don't know if I can bring myself to start it all again .

Action51

#18

Action51 said:

"Nintendo doesn't treat third parties very well"

Often, third parties treat Nintendo fans quite poorly too.
Looks like this game was a double cash-grab...and much like their refusal to patch Origins itself, WB games has decided to abuse Nintendo fans instead.

Even for $20...a bad and buggy game is a bad and buggy game.

Good review...I was thinking about this game and wondering why it was getting negative reactions. I know these issues all too well cough Mirror of Fate cough Arkham Origins....

Anguspuss

#19

Anguspuss said:

@Action51 agree with you a 100%.
Which is a shame its amazing like say unepic all small indie can issue a patch where slightly bigger companys cant

Tasuki

#20

Tasuki said:

Wow great review. It just saved me some money. Think I will rent this one.

divinelite

#21

divinelite said:

I disagree. For one playthrough this game is great (on vita but it's the same elsewhere). I play it three times for platz so its bad for me but the first time I hit ending i am satisfied with this game

BakaKnight

#22

BakaKnight said:

Oh great... I thought it was amazing that they ported the game to WiiU in "deluxe edition" and kept such a low price, but sounds like that low price came from a weak port.

I guess it makes sense, but it's a real shame anyway.

MamaLuigi

#23

MamaLuigi said:

I really don't think Blackgate is all that bad... in fact it plays and looks better on Wii U's Gamepad than I'm sure it did on 3DS, and the price is nice too ($20 in US). :)

Jllanos22

#24

Jllanos22 said:

@MamaLuigi agree. Play it anyway and see for yourself if u like it or not. Don't buy games relying on reviews and discover for yourself. I got sonic lost world which had a review of 5/10 by ign but when I play it, it was better than the review said. It has a classic/ modern feel with a interesting way of exploration like the genesis games.

audiobrainiac

#25

audiobrainiac said:

It really ticks me off that they gave us this regurgitated crap and NOT Arkham Knight. I will NOT buy this game a second time and let WBI think i'm happy they released this lol.

DiscoDriver43

#26

DiscoDriver43 said:

I'm sorry to say, but this is not surprising at all. The 3ds and possibly the Vita version of Blackgates was mediocre at best. Why should this be any different?

Judah_83

#27

Judah_83 said:

This game is awesome. Never played the 3DS version. Bought it on the eshop for $19.99. You cant beat that. If you liked castlevania:sotn, super metroid, you will feel at home with this title. Play it for urself dont let the opinion of ONE ruin your own personal playing experience and plus its only fuqqin $20. Cool.

epicdude12302

#28

epicdude12302 said:

I'm still getting this. I'm sorry Nintendo Life but you underscore most 3rd party games! Like for the 3DS version of this it had a 71/100 on Metacritic which was higher than the console versions until your 5/10 brought it down to a 68/100!

Mommar

#29

Mommar said:

This game was terrible on the 3DS, as a matter of fact it's the only game I've downloaded and deleted as i was never going to play it again. I doubt the WiiU version is any better with the possible exception of the frame rate not being nearly as terrible.

KnightRider666

#33

KnightRider666 said:

I don't know why everyone is hating on this game. I can't speak for the Wii U version, but I love the 3DS version very much.

JudgeMethos

#34

JudgeMethos said:

Man look, I bought the game not ever playin the 3ds version and its fun enough for me. Don't know anything bout the control setup on the 3ds or how different the graphics look along with the comic style art to further the story. It's fine and reading this review tells me that if the reviewer hadn't played the original, the score would probably be a tad higher. It's a decent game to me. I can't really not pick on the stuff the reviewer is cuz I'm not that anal of a player (with all due respect reviewer). Why worry about the backgrounds? Gotham has buildings. Are there buildings in the game? Yep. Cool, that's all I need to know. Cinematics, are they there and do they convey the story? Affirmative, sir! Great. Do I care if it looks a bit pixelated in some parts? No, it does its job fine. Graphical errors...well, can I play the game? Sure. Does it REALLY hurt that his cape goes through a wall or an enemy. Nope, as long as my feet don't go through regularly the baddies face/body regularly. Basically, is the game good enough to play? Yes, I'm enjoying it cuz I'm not nor was I expecting excellence but a straight forward action game upscaled from a friggin portable starring everyone's favorite Dark Knight. Sorry for the rant.

AshFoxX

#35

AshFoxX said:

"Blackgate – Deluxe Edition, despite being on the Wii U, controls almost identically to the 3DS version, minus the use of the touchscreen."

What in the actual mother of all curse words!? The Wii U has ONE thing going for it, the ONE thing it shares with it's 3DS cousin, and it's NOT used?!

I need to lay down...

Chunky_Droid

#36

Chunky_Droid said:

Ron, I totally agree with this review, I haven't reviewed the Wii U version myself, I played the PS3 version. I thought the controls were tight, but every other issue you mention resonates with my thoughts exactly.

Unless you need to know the very limited Arkham canon contained within the game, steer clear. Buy Metroid Fusion instead.

8bitforever

#38

8bitforever said:

I have the Vita version and it is great. The cutscenes are very sharp and fit well with the comic book game. Not sure why so many people hate this game. I felt the same way about Mirror if Fate. Funny how 1st party games get stupid high scores even when they don't deserve it but a good third party game like this gets trashed. This is why I don't listen to any sites reviews on handheld games anymore.

SahashraLA

#40

SahashraLA said:

I can run as Batman. Like Metroid, this is a MASSIVE update to the original Castlevania formula and I'll tell you why: there is nothing and I mean nothing like being cheaply killed by a quick moving enemy. I'm not talking sort of quick or reasonably fast, I'm talking stirring up unusual amounts of dust as they move, make you look like you're swimming in molasses fast. Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin quick.
If anything, I felt this game was fair if nothing else. Nothing seems impossible and the 2D plane feels fresh in comparison to the now tired Arkham formula. I'm GLAD the Origins DLC skipped Wii U. I'm personally sick of paying for extra content. It's like buying a TV series on DVD (not an individual portion, but the entire series) and then the show's creator tells you that, oh wait, there's another episode or two. It's only another 5$, what's the big deal?
Full game, no DLC. Patch the thing if you want, but stop with this garbage.

hcfwesker

#41

hcfwesker said:

As a MetroidVania genre fan, this game was actually pretty good at what it tried to do. There are times when controls are unresponsive and the combat (with groups of thugs) is a little button mashy with not much thought put into it. Where the game does excel at is for exploration fans. There's many hidden areas in the game and collectibles to grab. The backtracking was done smoothly, I never felt cheated when most games to this to make the experience longer. Each time I was backtracking, with newer items, I always found several new areas I could finally get into.

The game is far from perfect, but 2D exploration fans should at least give it a shot. The combat is stale, but exploration is pretty well down, and thats the big key to MetroidVania games.

SparkOfSpirit

#46

SparkOfSpirit said:

And to think this team almost made that Maverick Hunter FPS. No wonder it was scrapped.

These guys need to step their game up.

BigNintendoNerd

#47

BigNintendoNerd said:

@audiobrainiac I feel ur pain dude!!! I'm so mad that wbi decided to give us the cold shoulder this time!!! For me it's one of the sacrifices I having to make to get all the 1st party games!!!

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