‘Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate': The Dark Knight Meets ‘Metroidvania’

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 17th, 2013 at 3:39 pm,

Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate Details

Now that Warner Bros. Interactive has successfully launched their highly anticipated Mortal Kombat-inspired brawler Injustice: Gods Among Us, from NetherRealm Studios, the publisher is gearing-up to promote their Arkham City follow-up, Batman: Arkham Origins. Of course, savvy gamers already know that Arkham Origins isn’t a full-on origin story and, instead, follows an already-established Caped Crusader, in earlier days of his crime-fighting career, as he attempts to survive attacks from eight of the world’s best assassins. In addition to a different time period, and non-Arkham story focus, development duties on the project have also shifted from fan-favorite Rocksteady Studios to Warner Bros. Games Montreal.

Despite all the changes, and somewhat misleading title, some gamers remain optimistic about Arkham Origins while others remain skeptical of the companion project, Arkham Origins Blackgate, a 2.5 dimension handheld tie-in developed by Armature.

Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate Screenshot 1

Certain gamers were quick to criticize Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, which was announced right alongside Arkham Origins, as a shallow cash grab unfitting of the Batman: Arkham (Insert Subtitle Here) brand. Nevertheless, unlike most handheld tie-ins, Armature will not be porting-down 3D gameplay into a 2D experience – as Blackgate is an entirely separate story experience featuring gameplay specifically designed for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. Additionally, Armature isn’t just a random tie-in IP factory, the studio has a strong batch of executive developers – many of who worked on Retro Studios’ Metroid Prime games. In fact, the Metroid pedigree helped the studio secure the Blackgate contract from Warner Bros and serves as an indication of what gamers can expect from the title – specifically an Arkham-style story blended with “Metroidvania” gameplay.

According to game director Mark Pacini (in an interview with Game Informer):

[Warner Bros.] had come to us with this opportunity that they were looking to make a 2.5D-style Arkham game that was in the Metroidvania flavor and they thought we’d be a good pairing to it, since we were really familiar with that style of game. We made three of them, so it was a great fit and we were huge fans. I’m personally a huge fan of the Arkham franchise, so it just seemed like a really good fit.

Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate Screenshot 2

Pacini claims that Armature has been working on Blackgate since last spring (about a year from the time of this writing) – spending a significant amount of time deciding which elements of the console-based Arkham franchise could be applied to their handheld title – especially considering the side-scrolling “Metroidvania” foundation:

We wanted to give the player enough tools to unlock and progress in a world just like in a normal Metroidvania game. What we did is we went through the back log of the past two Arkham games and looked at the things that we thought would work well in our game. Climbing the grapple is our jump, so there’s no jumping in the game, you use the grapple to get up higher. We have glide — you know the glide allows you to go down over longer lateral spaces. Crouching and climbing and things like that are all from the console game so taking that small kernel of abilities, we are actually able to do quite a bit, and then we just supplement it with the gadgets that we thought would work well in a more 2.5D perspective. Things like the batarang and the gel launcher. The gel launcher is a slight adjustment to the explosive gel that’s in the console version, where Batman sprays it against the surface. We’re using it more like the movie version, where you can shoot it over more of a distance, so you can utilize the space on the screen a little bit more. Along with that there’s a bunch of gadgets that he has that we will reveal at another time.

The 3D Arkham games already require Metroidvania-style backtracking – where a new item or ability allows Batman to enter an area that was not previously accessible. However, Pacini claims that the item-progression is still just as rewarding – even if the game does not take place in an open-world 3D environment:

It’s a very good blend of the two — of Metroid and Arkham. The one change that we did end up making it that there’s no XP in the game, so everything is item-based. The reason we did it that way is to give the player more of a sense of collection in this game. That was a design decision.[…] What we wanted to do is put everything into an item-based system that you place into the environment, that gives you the motivation to explore the areas of the building. So that it gives you that flavor of: “Oh, I want that ability I can get up there,” rather than “I need to beat up some more guys to get the XP to unlock this thing.” I think it fits well for our style of game.

Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate Screenshot 3

In the interview Pacini also touches on the Blackgate setting as well as other fundamental changes to the Arkham gameplay – altering free flow combat and the invisible predator mechanic to a 2D plane. For more, you can read the entire Q&A at Game Informer.

Given that it’s a departure from the established 3D franchise format, Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate may not be a must-play title for every Batman: Arkham series buyers; however, that doesn’t mean that it won’t provide Metroidvania-style game fans as well as handheld owners with a worthwhile side-scroller set in one of gaming’s most immersive comic book worlds. Decades later, Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are still great gameplay experiences – and they’ve inspired plenty of critically-acclaimed 2.5D successors, most notably Epic Games’ 2009 title, Shadow Complex.

As a result, while the initial Blackgate announcement might have been over-shadowed by Arkham Origins, it’s easy imagine that, should Armature deliver a captivating story, solid controls, and fun applications of key Arkham mechanics in 2.5D, pairing Metroidvania gameplay and the rich Batman mythos could be a winning combination.

Batman: Arkham Origins will be available on Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC October 25, 2013.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate will be available on Vita and 3DS October 25, 2013.

Source: Game Informer

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

TAGS: 3DS, Batman, Batman Arkham Asylum, Batman Arkham City, Batman Arkham Origins, Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate, PC, PS3, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360

  • http://christianspicer.com Christian Spicer

    Wait?!?! What?!?! What gamers have you guys been talking to? Who was excited about the non-Rocksteady developed prequel game w/Arkham slapped on the title. And what gamers were quick to criticize the Vita/ 3DS game? If anything I’ve only heard the opposite. And why won’t the Vita/3DS game be the must play game versus the cash grab, end of a console cycle, off developer console version?

    • Justin Loomis

      Oh my god, getting sick of you stubborn fan boys. Arkham Origins hasn’t even shown gameplay yet, and if you actually bothered listening, instead of crying over and over like a child ‘ROCKSTEADY’S NOT DOING IT!’, you’d see it has all the heart any Batman game usually would.

      But no, you and all the ignorant jackasses are just gonna rage on.

      Anyway, getting both.

      • Cariannis

        Pot meet kettle.

        • Justin Loomis


          • Dante

            Ok, let me – this is just too good –

            You berate Christian for being a stubborn fanboy because no gameplay has been shown.

            You then go on to extoll the virtues of the same as-yet-unseen game.


            Silly, just silly…

      • http://christianspicer.com Christian Spicer

        My critique was more to this particular article kinda quoting or attributing feelings or views to “gamers.” As if everyone feels that way. I’ve heard the opposite assertions versus the blanket statements this article makes. That’s all I was saying. My point was more to not dismissing either game. But I appreciate your reply. Also I lol’d at Cariannis’s reply to you.

  • yvan

    Origins looks good and a different company does not mean a bad game… look at Sly 4…it came out good even though it was another company working on it

  • Pedrp

    I don’t care about the stupid Arkham Origins (Blackgate). SPEAK ABOUT THE REAL GAME!!!! I DONT CARE ABOUT THIS 2.5 D game for kids… Arkham Origins PLX!!! MORE NEWS!

  • Jak Frost

    Hey this is good new for me another game for the vita sounds good to me.

  • Justin Loomis

    Dante, you dont have to act like a smug douche about it. I had my doubts about this game too. But it looks WB is really going to give us something good. It’s called faith, not fanboyism.

    • Cariannis

      Reply “I don’t get you.”

  • http://www.videogamesblogger.com lee brandin detroy

    so,they are going to make a xbox 360 batman arkham origins blackgate the videogame in 2013, but i wish that the game do have some of my female fattales cassanda cain batgirl IV and with stephanie brown as batgirl, and with mark hamil joker in the game, yes will be so great., like rawrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr