Batman is one character that needs absolutely no introduction. The iconic caped crusader has enjoyed success in all media, beginning life in the pages of comic books in 1939, and later jumping to television for the campy Adam West interpretation and the dark, brooding animated series of the ’90s. Batman has also appeared in a number of films, some great like Tim Burton’s original and the Christopher Nolan trilogy, and others a train wreck, like the Schumacher debacles.
The Dark Knight has also appeared in an exhausting amount of video games over the years, practically spanning the entire lifespan of the industry. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Batman games simply are not good, suffering from the same issues of most licensed games, wherein they are rushed efforts that are simple cash grabs. However, there have been at least a handful of good Batman games, and even a couple that can be considered two of the best video games of all time.
These are the 5 best Batman games to date.
5. The Adventures of Batman & Robin (1994)
Earlier we mentioned the critically-acclaimed cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Well, due to the popularity of that show, it’s no surprise that a video game based on it was commissioned. The result is The Adventures of Batman & Robin, which released for the SNES in 1994, and is not only a great adaptation of the animated series, but it’s also one of the first Batman games that can be considered truly excellent.
The game allows Batman to utilize a variety of gadgets in order to successfully traverse the stages, an element of the character that also plays heavily into later interpretations as well. The game uses the art style of the animated series, and the included villains read like a who’s who of Batman’s rogues gallery, including The Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, Scarecrow, and more. Fans of the animated series will also be happy to know that each level in the game is based on an episode from the show.
The animated series gave way to an entire DC Animated Universe, which included the creation of the popular Batman Beyond, and the titular character of that show. The DCAU and Batman Beyond will live on in the next Batman game, Batman: Arkham Knight, thanks to a Batman Beyond skin pre-order bonus.
4. Batman Returns (1993)
Tim Burton’s 1989 film holds up today as one of the best superhero movies ever made. His 1992 followup, featuring Michael Keaton yet again under the cape and cowl, was also quite good, offering an even more twisted look at Gotham City than ever before. A video game adaptation was inevitable, and as it turns out, Batman Returns is one of the better games based on a movie based on a comic book.
The Batman Returns video game is a side-scrolling beat ’em up, but it also features some more traditional platforming segments and even a harrowing Batmobile chase. This is one of the few games to do Batman’s iconic wheels any justice, but the upcoming Batman: Arkham Knight will also feature the Batmobile.
3. LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012)
What’s cooler than a LEGO-ized Batman? Not much. Traveller’s Tales brought the Batman LEGO sets to life with the original game, but took it all to the next level with the followup, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. DC Super Heroes features 70 playable characters from not only the Batman comics, but the DCU in general, with appearances by Superman, Wonder Woman, and many more.
Not only is LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes an excellent Batman game, but it’s also the first LEGO game in the series to utilize full voice acting, which was a significant advancement for the video game franchise. The game also renewed popularity in the LEGO Batman franchise in general, prompting the release of the sequel, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, as well as paving the way for the character of LEGO Batman to be included in The Lego Movie, and even his own upcoming standalone film.
2. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
While the preceding three games are all great, the first Batman game that can really be considered an absolute video game classic is Rocksteady’s 2009 adventure, Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game blew away all expectations, delivering the most authentic and exciting Batman experience ever at the time.
It allows players to truly feel as though they’re Batman, exploring the harrowing halls of Arkham Asylum with the aid of Batman’s extensive amount of unique gadgets. Rocksteady found a winning formula with Arkham Asylum, and the game was such a success that the studio immediately went to work on developing a followup, which has turned out to be the best Batman video game to date.
1. Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Batman: Arkham City took everything that was great about Arkham Asylum and dialed it up to 11. Eschewing the corridors of Arkham Asylum in favor of an expansive, walled-off city meant for villains to run amok, Arkham City is the open world Batman games fans have been dreaming of for years.
There’s little else that can match the pure excitement of gliding through the skies as Batman, except maybe uncovering the secrets of the game’s complex plot. Batman fans will be left breathless by the time the credits roll, in one of the most jaw-dropping and shocking finales in video game history. Simply put, Arkham City has it all: great gameplay, story, graphics, music, voice acting, and more. It’s the definitive Batman experience, and it stands as one of the best games ever made.
The last few years have given Batman his greatest gaming adventures to date, however, it’s possible that the best Batman game is actually right around the corner. Batman: Arkham Knight, the thrilling conclusion to Rocksteady’s brilliant trilogy of Arkham games, is due for release on June 23rd for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Will Batman’s eighth gen debut live up to the hype? According to early reviews, Arkham Knight is yet another resounding success for Rocksteady. Fans will have a chance to decide for themselves soon enough, when Batman: Arkham Knight launches worldwide this Tuesday.