|System: DS, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: WayForward Technologies||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 7, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by J. Matthew Zoss
For too long, Batman simply didnt work well as a video game character. No matter what platform a Batman game appeared on or who developed it, for years every one of the Caped Crusaders titles was a disappointment. That all changed with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the daring, dark adventure game that captured nearly every aspect of the character perfectly. The spooky, serious game single-handedly revived Batmans fortunes as a video game character.
After a mature, brooding game like Arkham Asylum, its a little strange that Warner Bros. Interactive chose to follow it up with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Sure, its based on a cartoon and has nothing to do with the Arkham Asylum series other than the title character, nevertheless, it was a risky move to follow up Batmans first video game smash with a game thats squarely targeted at kids. Make no mistake about it, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a kids game. Fortunately, its also darn good.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold for Nintendo DS couldnt be any more different than Batman: Arkham Asylum. Where the latter is dark, creepy, and complex, the former is light, funny, and straightforward. The set-up is simple; the game plays like a collection of episodes of the new Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. Each episode is a simple 2D side-scrollling level with a couple of boss fights, and like in the cartoon, each episode pairs Batman up with another DC Comics character.
Some of the characters included are expected, such as Green Lantern and Green Arrow. But Batman also finds himself working alongside lesser-known heroes like Red Tornado, Blue Beetle, and second-stringers like Plastic Man. The boss fights include a similar mix of familiar foes like Bane and Catwoman as well as more obscure characters like Gorilla Grodd, Ocean Master, and Gentleman Ghost. For DC Comics fans, the number of characters youll see in the game is a real treat. I can honestly say there are some characters included that I never expected to see in a video game. Even more DC characters show up in a bonus character gallery feature after you discover hidden objects in a level, but theyre little more than a picture. Still, its nice to see Jonah Hex, even as a static image!
Every character in the game has his own set of moves and skills that help Batman overcome the challenges of each level, and theyre simple enough to make each ally instantly understandable and varied enough to make them all feel distinct. While every hero has a light attack, heavy attack, and special move, developer WayForward spent enough time crafting each stage for the characters that appear in them that youll never feel like youre swapping between two slightly different versions of Batman. For example, Aquaman has an entirely different set of attacks in and out of the water, Green Arrow can create platforms with his suction cup arrow, and Plastic Man can turn himself into a giant anvil to crush the enemies or obstacles below him. Each ally actually feels, believe it or not, useful.
Throughout each stage, Batman earns currency that can be used to buy upgrades between levels in the Batcave. You can upgrade his armor, health, and gadgets, including a regeneration power that takes a lot of the challenge away once you buy it. Its a nice touch to add some depth, but Batman starts to feel over-powered quickly. Thats great for younger players, but older players might want to avoid bulking Mr. Wayne up too much.