Until recently, the Batman franchise was proved good games could come from the Batman license (in fact, the latter won more than one game of the year award). Batman: The Brave and the Bold continues this trend. Although the game doesn’t exactly fit the niche Arkham Asylum did, The Brave and the Bold is a fun-filled adventure filled with exciting combat, funny dialog, and surprisingly high production values.
The game takes an episodic format and features four different stories that see Batman teaming up with Robin, Blue Beetle, and even Guy Gardner to vanquish crime in Gotham City. Each episode stands alone, and features funny storylines like those you would expect to see in the television show upon which the game is based. The game also features some funny locales, including a cat museum (that features both cats from the past entrenched in civil war and cats from the future who wield deadly lasers and live on the moon!), the always-interesting Science Island, and Planet Oa.
Each of the areas has unique aspects, but you should know going into this title that you shouldn’t expect anything in terms of open world features. All of the levels are strictly linear and are presented in an old-school, side-scrolling format. The decision to go with this format was probably in the best interest of younger fans of the show, so I don’t think it is that big of a stumbling block, but if you are looking for an experience similar to Arkham Asylum or even LEGO Batman in terms of format, you won’t find it here. There are no collectibles or hidden areas, and your task is simply just to get from one end of the level to the other.
Although the level format isn’t exciting, the levels themselves are far from boring. The game’s story is primarily delivered through dialogue between Batman and his companion character during each episode. This aspect of the game helps it feel like an interactive episode of the series, as you are never just silently moving your character through the different areas. Even if your character stops talking, you’ll hear plenty of sounds from people and objects in the background. However, moments like this are few and far between, and listening to your characters talk about events in the game and offer their own (often hilarious) commentary is one of the best aspects of the game.
But as much as I enjoyed the game’s dialogue, the gameplay did leave a little to be desired. The game has a basic combat system that allows for regular attacks, strong attacks, grapples, and special attacks. Though you can string these attacks together to create combos and point/currency multipliers, there is almost no depth to the combat system, and if you are the type of person to marathon games for hours on end, you’ll likely get bored with the one-note combat system. The only variation comes from special gadgets you can upgrade and unlock for your playable characters. However, there are only a few gadgets per character, and you generally have to wait one to two stages before you can unlock the next gadget or weapon using the game’s currency system. In the case of Batman, the upgraded Batarang is really all you need for success, so all the other gadgets feel useless and I poured little effort into unlocking them.
Making matters worse is the attacks are not mapped to the Wii-Mote and Nunchuk well. For example, the jump button being tied to the B button (when it is so often tied to the A or Z buttons) takes some getting used to. It also seems curious that in a combat-driven title, where button mashing is an important facet of the gameplay, the classic controller was not offered as a control option. Although the Wii-Mote and Nunchuk controllers provide a responsive enough control scheme, the classic controller would have felt like a more natural option and would have been great to include.
Another big qualm I have with Batman: The Brave and the Bold is its length. Each episode only takes little more than an hour to play through, which gives the game about five hours worth of playtime. There are no extra modes or unlockables, and once you have completed the game, there is no reason to go back. I wish they would have fleshed out the game in this regard (or added some multiplayer modes), as a five-hour game (even at the Wii’s $50 price point) can be a tough sell.
Still, despite my issues with the control scheme and the game’s replayability, Batman: The Brave and the Bold has quite a bit going for it, especially in terms of production values. It is so rare to see a Wii game pull out all the stops in terms of technical value, but this title knocks it out of the park. The game’s cinema scenes all feature hand-drawn animation, and the game footage itself features the same hand-drawn look. The visuals are especially important to this game, particularly because anyone who has watch the Batman: The Brave and the Bold series knows the show has a distinctive look to it, and the game’s look captures that essence. This helps the immersion level even more and furthers the “interactive episode” feel the game seems to be going for.
Overall, I was impressed with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. While it certainly isn’t the best Batman game ever made, I will say it is the best based on a Batman animated property, and it continues the ongoing trend of great Batman games. Though this title skews younger than most, for what it is, it works perfectly well. The drop-in/drop out co-op makes this a natural choice for families who enjoy playing games together. If you are a fan of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series and want a humorous title that is full of fun (if simplistic) action and some great production, this title is certainly worth your time.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The hand-drawn animated cutscenes are great, and the in-game visuals recreate the look of the animated series almost perfectly. 3.6 Control
The Wii and Nunchuk controls take some getting used to (especially the B-button jump) but work well overall. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There is plenty of dialogue, and it is never repetitive. Nearly all of the characters are voiced by their original voice actors from the television show. 3.3
Despite the entertaining level design and dialogue, each “episode” is completely linear, and there isn’t any real replay value.
4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.