The History Of Terrible Batman Games
The success of Superman in the 70s may have proved that super heroes are legitimately popular entertainment, but it was the Caped Crusader who sealed the deal. Tim Burton’s original Batman films were inarguable hits and though the series descended into awful self parody, it paved the way for the super hero genre being nearly dominant among escapist cinema. And of course, there’s the whole thing about The Dark Knight being one of the best selling movies of all time. Batman is also responsible for helping restore American animation after 30 years of the Hanna-Barbera ghetto, with the very excellent Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman/Superman adventures that made weekday afternoons required TV time even for people in their 20s.
Really, when you think about it, there’s almost nothing the Dark Knight can’t do… Except for be in a good video game. Yeahyeahyeah, we know about Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Obviously those games are pretty much perfect. But the history of playable Batman is a history of shame, boredom and crashing let-downs so awful you’d think the Joker was head developer. So in commemoration of the long-awaited release of Arkham City, we’d like to take you through a trip into times past, to before people understood that the secret of a good batman game was ‘be awesome’.
It’s been a long road to the current awesomeness of Batman and all things Arkham. And we’re going to give you a greatest hits journey through some of the crap we had to wade through to get here, 7 of the worst games ever, spanning the last 23 years. Here is The History Of Terrible Batman Games.
7) Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988)
Let’s travel back to 1988, the last year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and a whole year before Tim Burton rocked our shit with his first Batman movie. If you had an Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS or a ZX Spectrum, you could play the critically acclaimed Batman: The Caped Crusader. Blessed with a somewhat cool aesthetic inspired by comic panels, players went up against The Penguin and The Joker. Cool!
Oh wait, except instead of being an awesome, ass kicking batman game, it’s a side-scroller primarily composed of puzzle-solving and maze navigation. Are those challenging tasks? Sure. But when people become super heroes, ‘being competent at handling the Sunday edition of local newspaper’ ranks somewhat below ‘ass-kicking, bad guy beating awesomeness’. People were really easily-pleased back in the 80s.
6) Batman: The Movie – Arcade (1989)
Skip ahead a year to the release of the first Tim Burton film. Yes! Awesome plot, awesome action, awesome score! Now we’re talking. All we needed to really complete the look was a movie tie-in game that lives up to film. Enter Batman: The Movie – Arcade edition, a pretty decent looking game that also has a cool chiptune version of Danny Elfman’s score.
Too bad it’s basically a Double Dragon clone combined with a really lame rail shooter.
5) Batman (1990)
Not to front-load the early history of Batman games, but you just can’t ignore how awful people really were at making them. This execrable artifact from PC Engine is a perfect study in assuming video game buyers are so incredibly stupid they’ll purcahse literally anything, so long as it’s branded right. Batman (1990) was also tied to Tim Burton’s movie. It featured incredible cut-scenes and some excellent music, but they must have run out of budget because instead of an action game, they made… well, it’s essentially
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