Strangely, there’s no tie-in videogame to the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight. Granted, the Batman Begins game from EA was bad enough to put you off wanting one, but surely Gotham City is ripe for a top notch videogame? As it stands, this is the best we’ve had thus far…
Before Tim Burton’s movie came along and turned the Bat into one of the biggest franchises on the planet, a small 8-bit computer game was developed in Britain that to this day remains the finest Batman game ever written. An isometric 3D adventure, it paved the way for one of its authors to go on to make Head Over Heels, a game that itself remains one of the finest ever made. Appearing on the likes of the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC, it’s this Batman game, with its ingenious puzzles, that remains the highlight of Bob Kane’s creation’s venture into the world of gaming.
2 Batman The Movie
Various formats got a conversion of the game based on the 1989 movie, but the one that graced the Commodore Amiga was surely the best. The game seemingly single-handedly helped sell the machine in the UK – courtesy of the inspired Batpack package – but it was the elements where you drove the Batmobile, throwing grappling hooks to swing around corners at speed, that were surely the most memorable. Great stuff, and it still holds up well today.
3 Batman: The Caped Crusader
A game that had a strong case for second place, and again, this one was made before the Bat got quite so big. Very much in the style of the television series, this 1988 cartoon action adventure was, to be fair, far more based around the detective nature of the character, as puzzles were waiting to be solved in an effort to bring down The Penguin and The Joker. Offering two separate adventures in one box, it was acclaimed at the time, and while the look of it has dated quite a lot, and while there’s a fair amount of traipsing round, it’s still superior stuff.4 Batman Returns
Imagine a game kind of like Street Fighter, but with some Batman graphics over the top, and you’ve a fair idea of the SNES version of at least part of Batman Returns (which, to be fair, inspired different takes on it depending on which format you bought). It didn’t bear much in the way of resemblance to the source material (although any game based on Tim Burton’s superb second Batman movie was always going to struggle to do so), but was still really good fun, and is still worth digging out for a quick battle. Some rate this as the best Dark Knight game, and certainly for pure action, it’s got a case. We still prefer the three above it, though. You can see a clip of the game in action down at the bottom…
5 Batman Vengeance
We’ve not included the Justice League titles in this list, in which Batman inevitably appears, and that just about leaves a space for Batman Vengeance to clamber over the remaining pile of mediocrity released in the Dark Knight’s name. A not-too-bad but not-too-great title, which at least had a dark visual style (based around the recent animated adventures), it was too lethargic to really work, but at least had some fun, Bat-like elements to it.
The conclusion of all of this? There hasn’t been a really good Batman computer game now for nearly 15 years. How is that possible, and who’s going to do something about it?