Batman: The Brave and the Bold Review for Nintendo DS

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Review for Nintendo DS

Into the Light

For too long, Batman simply didn’t 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 Crusader’s 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 Batman’s fortunes as a video game character.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold screenshot

After a mature, brooding game like Arkham Asylum, it’s a little strange that Warner Bros. Interactive chose to follow it up with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Sure, it’s 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 Batman’s first video game smash with a game that’s squarely targeted at kids. Make no mistake about it, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a kid’s game. Fortunately, it’s also darn good.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold for Nintendo DS couldn’t 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 you’ll 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 they’re little more than a picture. Still, it’s nice to see Jonah Hex, even as a static image!

Batman: The Brave and the Bold screenshot

Every character in the game has his own set of moves and skills that help Batman overcome the challenges of each level, and they’re 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 you’ll never feel like you’re 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. It’s a nice touch to add some depth, but Batman starts to feel over-powered quickly. That’s great for younger players, but older players might want to avoid bulking Mr. Wayne up too much.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold screenshot

The player can swap between Batman and his partner at any time by tapping the Nintendo DS Touch Screen, something you’ll have to do frequently throughout every level. Each stage has sections that only one character or the other can complete only Batman can climb across ceilings, while you might also need Red Tornado’s ability to freeze lava or Green Lantern’s power to create blocks to climb. Perform a long enough combo and you’ll earn a tag-team attack in which both characters attack together. They’re generally useless but can get you out of a few tight spots and are occasionally entertaining. I never thought I’d see Batman and Aquaman ride on the back of a whale together.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold screenshot

Some of the game’s stages are perfectly crafted for the heroic duo that star in the episode. For example, the Batman/Red Tornado level is a perfect match for the characters, no other pairing could possibly complete the challenge. Some of the other stages aren’t quite as well-matched to the stars, but, in general, what makes The Brave and the Bold shine is the expert craftsmanship of the stages. There’s a nice variety of experiences throughout the game, including some levels that are focused more on platforming than combat, others that feature more aggressive enemies, and even one brief vehicular segment. In the hands of a lesser developer, The Brave and the Bold could have felt like a series of carbon-copy stages with interchangeable characters. Thanks to WayForward, each stage has a personality that’s every bit as distinct as the heroes.

Perhaps because WayForward put so much care into every level, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a surprisingly short game. The core game only takes a couple hours to finish, and the bevy of unlockable challenges only provide a few extra minutes of gameplay each. Still, every one of the levels can be replayed to find all the hidden collectibles and there are challenge stages for each character, stage, and set of bosses. There are also secret codes to unlock new costumes and a Wii/DS link feature that unlocks Bat-Mite as a playable character for the Wii version. Short length or not, that’s a lot of content for a DS game.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is the all-ages equivalent of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Where Arkham Asylum made Batman a legitimate gaming character for adults, The Brave and the Bold does the same for younger players. It may not be a ground-breaking Game of the Year contender like Batman’s last game, but it’s as solid of a portable side-scroller as I’ve played in a long time. The bright, friendly version of Batman may not be who I think of when I think of Batman, but for many kids out there, this is about as good as an introduction to the character as you could hope for.

The visuals are bright, colorful, and faithful to the cartoon, but a little lacking in detail, even by DS standards. Still, there’s nothing to complain about. 3.8 Control
Every single control input of the DS is used, including the shoulder buttons and Touch Screen. It may be a little complex for younger gamers at first, but once they get over the hump, they’ll find a surprisingly deep gameplay experience. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Every character has unique voice work dialogue. The voices are spot-on, but a few lines are repeated too often. 3.9

Play Value
It’s a short game that can be completely finished in a few hours, but the bundles of modes and extras will keep you coming back for more.

3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Superheroes team up: Play alongside your friends as Batman or one of his powerful allies, including Green Lantern and Robin, or call in the super powered help of superheroes like The Flash and Aquaman to flatten those dastardly villains.
  • Adventure Abroad: Jump, swing, and punch through wild worlds including Gotham City, Science Island, London, and the planet Oa.
  • It’s All About the Gadgets: Unlock awesome gadgets such as Batarangs, the Plasma Sword, flash grenades, and more to accomplish your missions and then extend the fun by replaying levels with your cool new tools.
  • THE MISSING LINK: Control Batman’s number-one fan, Bat-Mite, with Nintendo DS™ by linking the Nintendo DS™ version with the Wii™ version and have Bat-Mite wreak havoc or fight alongside the super heroes in all of the episodes of the Wii videogame!

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