With Warner Bros. and Rocksteady Studios releasing Batman: Arkham Asylum in North America and Europe this week for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, it seems like as good a time as any to review Batman's video gaming career. UGO takes a stab at the topic with A Concise History of Batman in Video Games in which the Caped Crusader is chronicled from his early days on the MSX through titles based on the Tim Burton films and Animated Series all the way to a floundering series of titles that aren't based much on anything at all. Batman has certainly seen his share of digital lows. Remember Acclaim's dismal Batman Forever that was basically a watered-down overly digitized take on Mortal Kombat reworked as brawling platformer?
As Batman's movies became worse so did his games, beginning with the atrocity that is Batman Forever. I mean, the game isn't all bad. The graphics for instance, weren't terrible. For some fans though they just looked too much like another game. This is mainly because Acclaim just pasted a bunch of Batman imagery over the latest Mortal Kombat game and called it Batman Forever. By this point however, we're probably all aware that graphics alone can't make or break a game. Horrible controls, on the other hand can, and Batman Forever was endowed with some of the worst. Simple actions like deploying your grappling hook were often insanely difficult, requiring odd button combos and pinpoint precise timing. Not to mention the game was quite hard even on the lower difficulties, making it a general displeasure to play. Batman Forever did have one thing going for it though: an ending.
I've had a half-written article of the five best Batman games in the "unfinished" bin for years because I can't come up with five actual great Batman games. Konami came closest thus far with 1994's The Adventures of Batman and Robin for the Super NES, and the Batman arcade game based on the first Tim Burton film is alright, but it's all downhill after that. I have high hopes and great expectations for Arkham Asylum. What is it about the character that most developers and publishers just can't seem to grasp? As Batman himself once explained, it takes more than a costume and an attitude to do this work.