Although naturally not as visually accomplished as the home console versions, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham nevertheless delivered an authentic, reasonably fun LEGO title starring our favourite gritty superhero. It was hampered by clunky and repetitive gameplay and the enemy AI was pretty poor. This is perhaps one for diehard LEGO fans, only.
Unlike its NES counterpart, Batman: Return of the Joker for the Game Boy Color put its focus primarily on platforming, featuring a handy grappleshot to aid with traversal. You could fire out some Batarangs with the rather rudimentary combat, but with rather short, basic levels, the game can’t quite match up to the NES version.
22. Lego Batman (DS)
Batman’s first LEGO entry arrived in 2008 and was actually the first of the LEGO games to feature an entirely original story. Switching characters and utilising abilities can be done via the DS’s touch screen, however the console cinematics were replaced by comic-book style panels to accommodate for the DS’s hardware limitations. A good game, but perhaps not quite up there with its sequel.
So if Batman: Arkham Origins was a prequel to the proper trilogy games, this was a prequel to the prequel, we think. In any case, this was a portable-only release around the same time as Arkham Origins, designed for 3DS (and Vita!) with a side-on view and Metroidvania-type design, as you'd expect. It's a game that has moments of "oh cool I'm pummelling thugs as Batman on the 3DS", but there are some design and presentation issues too. A valiant effort, anyway.
It was pretty much a case of ‘more of the same’ with LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes for the DS. It took most of the structure and style of the original and just did… more. It’s perhaps regarded as the best in the series for DS, but at this stage, it also had the beefier 3DS version to contend with.
This one has scored a little better among the community, likely because as a 'Deluxe' version on consoles it spruced up the visuals with a HD sheen. Playing on a big screen may also help with the occasionally awkward blend of 2D play for dynamic motion combat, though aside from the high-res lick of paint there weren't any other major improvements to be found. Sadly the GamePad map falls a little short, too, lacking touch support. But hey, if you like the concept of a 2D Metroidvania Batman game it's a tempting option.
Batman Returns for the NES was basically Final Fight: Batman Edition. The gameplay was straight-up beat-em-up focused, and the visuals did a decent job of depicting the gothic nature of Burton’s 1992 sequel. Arriving within the vicinity of the SNES launch, the game ended up being cross-platform, with the SNES naturally being quite a bit more accomplished.
Boasting some pretty gorgeous visuals for the humble NES, Batman: Return of the Joker borrowed a few elements from Tim Burton’s 1989 movie, but was ultimately an entirely separate take on the caped crusader. Its gameplay is an odd blend of ‘Castlevania meets Contra’, and with only 7 main levels clocking in at less than an hour (if you’re good), this is nevertheless a pretty cracking game.
With typical platforming gameplay, the Game Boy Color adaptation of the popular cartoon series lets you switch between Batman and his plucky side-kick Robin, with each character featuring unique abilities to aid them. It was pretty well received upon release and holds up as a decent - albeit short and sweet - platformer to this day.
As with many handheld ports of multi-platform offerings, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes falls short of its console iterations. The handheld version loses the multiplayer aspect and doesn't bring any touchscreen controls or improvements with it. This is one definitely best experienced elsewhere.
Just like its Wii counterpart, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is the only non-Lego Batman game on the system, but it’s a fair bit different from its console sibling. Multiplayer might be stripped out, but this handheld take on the 2010’s cartoon shifts the emphasis from beat ‘em up to platformer with tight controls, and WayForward’s impressive visual style is on full show here, with bombastic special effects and beautiful comic book-style art on the bottom screen.
Expanding the roster across the DC universe even more, Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is Lego and Batman at their most ambitious. But while the series had been steady for a while, poor technical issues and gameplay aspects that were occasionally confusing, or otherwise streamlined, undermined what was otherwise a hilarious, jam-packed adventure. Maybe next time, eh Bats?