We all need heroes. It’s important to have heroes we can talk to like parents, teachers, and coaches; these people are the true heroes who make our lives richer and fuller. But while our everyday heroes can keep us grounded, our fictional superheroes inspire greatness, bravery, honor, and integrity. Superheroes give us a sense of civic duty and love for our fellow man in a way no real person could. And if there’s one hero who embodies justice, honor, and sacrifice, it’s Batman.
The Dark Knight first came onto the scene in DC #27, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.” Since then, Batman has appeared in all forms of popular culture from the big screen to coffee mugs. One can attribute Batman’s popularity to a host of factors. He’s physically much different than his superhero counterparts. His true identity is someone who we would all like to become: a successful, endlessly rich, handsome leader in his community. Plus, he has all the toys a hero could ever want! The true reason we love Batman, though, is not what makes him different from us but what we have in common. He’s flawed. With a horrifying backstory and complicated psychology, all the money and toys in Gotham City can’t change the fact that he’s just a guy doing his best to do what’s right for the people and city he loves. And what can be more inspirational than that?
So are these Batman games more educational than reading a book or going to a lecture on quantum physics? No. But if they can help someone to strive to be the best they can be as Bruce Wayne so often does, then they’re definitely worth a shot.
Batman Games -- Board Games
1. Batman Fluxx
Draw one, play one. Sounds simple, right? While the concept isn’t complicated, gameplay is anything but boring. Fluxx continues its successful franchise by invoking the Caped Crusader as well as his allies and nemeses. Play different action cards to accomplish the goal in the middle of the table, but be careful because not only can rules be added throughout the game, the goal itself changes constantly! The art is modeled after Batman: The Animated Series and includes all your favorite characters and locations. Players are asked to think on their feet in this ever shifting card game, but it’s even suitable for children as young as 8.
2. Love Letter
Love Letter is a beautiful game of intrigue and romance, and while that is fine, Batman creates a whole new world. Gameplay is almost identical to the original with one interesting twist. There are only 16 cards used in the game, and players only have one card in their hand at a time. Each card represents a different character in the Batman universe, and each is assigned both a value as well as an action. Players earn bat tokens by exposing each other while keeping the identity on their card secret. The first player to earn seven tokens wins. The twist? Players holding a Batman card can earn bonus tokens by guessing the identities of other players! This cerebral card game can take as little as 20 minutes and is designed for players 10 and up.
While Batman is undeniably one of the most interesting heroes, what really makes the franchise work are the insane, gruesome villains he has to face. In Batman: Arkham City Escape, one player is represents Batman, but the other is a host of villains trying to make their way out of Arkham City without being captured. Only two players participate, but gameplay is fun and varied. Both Batman and his foes have a tremendous amount of decisions to make. Batman chooses weapons from his utility belt and can jump from gargoyle to gargoyle to create perfect position on the board. The villains are able to choose their escape route and play action cards to increase their odds. If the game pieces meet on the board, the two engage in combat, and the winner gains a huge advantage. The artwork of this game is dark and brooding, much like Bruce Wayne himself. This is one of the Batman games that requires a little more strategy and is designed for players 15 and up.
Similar to Arkham City Escape, Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game lets players choose among The Joker, Killer Crock, the Penguin, or Two Face to face each other as well as the Dark Knight in order to become the King of Crime! Players collect money and information tokens as well as hire henchmen to do their bidding, all with the intent of taking over Gotham City. The board is divided into city blocks you aim to control by placing threats. The player with the most threats in an area controls that area, but moving your game piece into an area already controlled by an opponent causes you to fight. All the while, Batman can swoop in and ruin your day by sending you back to your hideout. All in all, playing as the villain has its perks, and at 14 and up, your teenagers will have a blast when it’s finally okay to be the bad guy.
Batman Games -- Video Games
Batman: The Brave and the Bold for the Wii and Nintendo DS is a great way to get someone introduced to Batman! The side-scrolling platform gameplay is simple enough for the novice gamer, but everyone can have fun with this beat ‘em up concept. You play as Batman and team up with one of your many superhero friends including Robin, Green Arrow, or Aquaman, defeating the likes of super-villains like Two-Face and Copperhead. While the game is 2D, the graphics are smooth and enjoyable, and the storyline is entertaining. Each level presents itself as an individual episode; it’s almost as if you’re reading through a series of interactive comics! Possibly the greatest selling point of this game is the voiceover work. This game has a cast that will rival any other with the likes of Diedrich Bader, Dee Bradley Baker, Will Friedle, and R. Lee Ermey. The Brave and the Bold may not be the most complex of the Batman games collection, but it succeeds where it counts: it’s hilarious, engaging, and loads of fun!
6. Lego Batman
Since its inception, Lego has been a company that promotes a love of building, designing and engineering in kids. It probably secretly snickers at parents to step on one of their bricks in the middle of the night. Now, though, the brand has expanded into movies and video games, one popular series being Lego Batman. Like many of its Lego predecessors, Lego Batman allows a player to move around in an expansive 3D environment, playing as different characters and completing objectives and side missions. Its tongue-in-cheek humor allows even serious gamers to enjoy the relative simple gameplay. But what makes Lego Batman a truly great game is the sheer volume of opportunities. There is always a new side quest, collectable, or vehicle players can aspire to. Lego Batman is rich with humor and interesting puzzles, and what’s more, it’s available for almost any platform including Wii, Playstation 2 and 3, and Xbox 360.
This series is for serious gamers only. The Batman: Arkham series is a set of many Batman games focused on the darker side of the Caped Crusader. In its first installment, Arkham Asylum, The Joker has trapped Batman in Gotham City’s prison for the insane, Arkham. Batman is forced to find his way out, fighting through the criminally insane who only want to rip him apart. The game is beautifully done, and it captures the eerie feel most notably depicted in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins series. Arkham Asylum is widely considered one of the best superhero games of all time, winning multiple awards and critical acclaim. Two other Batman games followed, Arkham City and a prequel, Arkham Origins. While some may say the gameplay and storyline is too similar to the original, others argue that it would be insane to mess with such a good thing.
Bonus -- Batman: Arkham VR
Maybe the most exciting news to come from the series is that Playstation is developing Batman: Arkham VR, a new installment in the series that will take advantage of the new technologies surrounding virtual reality. From all accounts, Arkham VR is going to be a prime example of what virtual reality can offer to the gaming world by putting players inside the batsuit for the very first time. For most, the October 2016 release date can’t come soon enough.
Have any Batman games you want to recommend or share? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!
Feature image courtesy of Flickr, solylunafamilia.