The Top 5 Best Batman Games in History

written by JMatula on July 19, 2012 in Special Feature

Welcome back readers! Now that we’ve gotten the worst out of the way, let’s take time to celebrate the best Batman-related adventures the gaming world has to offer. We all know where this is leading but c’mon, humor me for a moment and let’s talk about how we got there. It seems like each gaming generation has had at least one halfway decent if not downright enjoyable Batman game to offer, even if they didn’t offer the full Batman experience. Only with the advancement of technology and innovative gameplay mechanics have we been able to get an experience that fully embodies the experiences of the Dark Knight.

Without further ado, here are the 5 best Batman games in history.

Batman (NES)

Probably the first Batman game a whole generation of gamers remembers playing, this game was amazing for the time. The cutscenes were based on the popular new Batman movie but the game played like Ninja Gaiden through a comic book filter. Batman could run, jump and even scale walls in Ninja Gaiden-like fashion. Did I mention Batarangs? He used them and they were completely awesome.

Throw in one of the most memorable game soundtracks of the 8-bit era and you have the makings of a classic that stands the test of time. Thanks to licensing issues for the Batman property, chances are slim it will ever see the light of day on the Wii Virtual Console. If you enjoy old school gaming it’s worth it to track down a copy or at least an emulator. Everyone should experience the first truly great Batman game.

Adventures of Batman & Robin (SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, Game Gear)

Batman The Animated Series was the best representation of Batman in the 90s. There, it needed to be said. Some may disagree but at least it inspired much better games than the movies did. It may be a side scrolling adventure game, but don’t let that fool you into think this game is run-of-the-mill. All of the settings, enemies, equipment and music used in the game was either based on or taken directly from the cartoon so it had a feeling of authenticity unmatched by any previous Batman game.

The Sega CD version even had previously unreleased animated cutscenes drawn from the series, which many fans believe to be segments from a lost episode! The level of detail and faithfulness to the material is to be commended.  It was a bright Bat-spot in a time of lame games bearing his name.

Lego Batman 1 & 2 (OSX, iOS, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, etc)

Finally, we arrive at the modern era of gaming. This is where things really get good. These titles were a no-brainer for the list. Combining challenging gameplay, humor and the child-like fun of Legos (who doesn’t like Legos, seriously?) with one of the most popular superheroes of all time makes this an undeniable winner.  Save Gotham from the full rogue’s gallery as Batman and Robin. Wisely, these games know that being the hero all the time is no fun so at different points in the game you can play as Catwoman, The Joker and tons of other characters from the Batman universe.

The sequel ups the ante by expanding into the wide world of DC Comics characters, giving players even more character and gameplay options than before. Because of the near-universal appeal of this title, it’s available for practically every platform that can support it: OSX, iOS, PC, Wii, PS3, PS2, Xbox 360, DS, PSP. Everyone that loves Batman owes it to himself to play this thoroughly enjoyable title.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (OSX, PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

All of our wishes, hopes and dreams for a Batman game finally came true with this title. It has the intense fighting and array of gadgets. The full roster of villains is present. Stealth and the element of surprise are essential to battle strategy and integral to the game mechanics. There’s even a “Detective Mode” where the player sees something similar to x-ray vision, an attempt to visualize the multitude of ways Batman analyzes a situation. This is the closest any gamer has felt to the true Batman experience.

To sweeten the deal, the graphics are gritty and realistic in glorious high defintion, yet the voices come from the actors who played the characters in Batman The Animated Series. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman and Mark Hamill (of Star War fame) returns as the maniacally unhinged Joker. Arkham Asylum is even in the Guinness Book of World Records! It’s accomplishment? “Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game.” This game is pure perfection. This is an absolutely essential game for anybody who enjoys Batman, superheroes, or even just excellent gaming in general. You can even grab it for your Mac right here from us if you want to.

Batman: Arkham City (PC, Xbox 360, PS3)

It’s true; most will agree this sequel is even better than its predecessor, if that’s even possible. Instead of being confined to grounds of Arkham Asylum, the player explores a vast open world, travelling across an entire city that functions as a prison.  Detective Mode and the Freeflow combat from the previous game have been improved, there are still plenty of Riddler challenges and surprisingly, most tools you had at the end of the last game carry over to the beginning of this game. How many sequels actually do THAT? (Looking you Zelda, with your endless fetch quests).

To spice things up there are potions of the game where the player can play as Catwoman! She even has her own special vision called “Thief Vision” to locate items to steal. Plus there are tons of DLC available, including Robin and Nightwing as additional playable characters, as well as new costumes and map challenges. This game has everything you could hope for in a Batman experience and takes a considerable amount of time to complete. It was one of the highest rated games of 2011 and easily the pinnacle of superhero gaming.

Honorable Mention

  • Batman Begins (Xbox, GameCube, PS2, GBA) – This one had the right idea—criminal intimidation and scare tactics are important to gameplay and the graphics were impressive for the time. There’s even a “HF Transponder” that you can use to summon a swarm of bats! It was definitely not your standard beat ‘em up game, but didn’t quite provide the completely immersive feeling later Arkham games would give.
  • Batman: Vengeance (PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube) – Sure the controls may be less than great and camera angles may not always be the best but this game looked and felt like Batman The Animated Series. It had that signature cartoon-noir art style and voices from the show, as well as great cutscenes.

That’s all folks! Thank you for joining us. Remember, if you feel we forgot a game that deserves mentioning, let us know in the comments!