Never has dark and brooding been so much fun to play as than with Batman’s list of beat ‘em up adventures. Cleaning up the streets of Gotham City never gets old when you don the cape and cowl, equip your utility belt with the latest in bat-gadgets, and have Alfred to pep-talk you through the worst of your nights.
Like any superhero, Batman has had some supreme duds in gaming, but he’s also come on top with some great games that perfectly capture their comic book source material.
Bruce Wayne may be a man ripe with internal conflicts, but that h as only made him one of the best licensed characters for video games. Some of Batman’s playable iterations skirt the line of childlike simplicity and minimal depth, but others, like the 15 best Batman games on this list, capture the Dark Knight near perfectly, even if some may use his brooding nature for the laughs.
15. Batman: Chaos in Gotham
Developer: Digital Eclipse Software Publisher: Ubisoft
This aptly named Game Boy Color title captures what it’s like to live in the grim world of Gotham. The game, however, is less dreary and bleak, providing players a fun experience at the expense of the city’s unlucky denizens.
After Batman’s worst enemies escape Arkham Asylum, the Dark Knight sets out to defend the city before a certain dual-personality whack-job collapses it for good. The Joker, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Roxy Rocket, and Bane help round out a rogue’s gallery dangerous enough to give Batman (and his Bat-Family) a challenge.
Chaos in Gotham doesn’t overwhelm with mechanics, mostly because of its platform, but the result is an easy side-scrolling beat ‘em up laced with strange segments of exploration in the Batmobile. Though combat and puzzle-solving are pretty basic and the graphics are muddied and ugly, Chaos in Gotham features a fun Bat-story framed with boss fights that do well to capture the villain’s style.
14. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Developer: Traveller’s Tales Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
When you get to the third entry in a series, you can bet you’ll either drop back to an origin story or things will go completely bonkers. LEGO Batman 3 takes the latter approach, sending Batman and friends into space and all around the globe. Don’t forget, it’s a LEGO game, so the story comes second, which is best for Beyond Gotham, a game that hinges on its abundance of content to appeal to DC fans.
Beyond Gotham suffers from AI issues and other technical issues, but it’s easy to be distracted by the 150 different characters from the DC universe. Traveller’s Tales had three iterations to perfect Batman’s LEGO model, but it only further veered off course. The result isn’t the best LEGO Batman game, but it certainly earns its spot among the other best Batman games.
The two-player format and Traveller’s Tales’ humor make it easy to overlook LEGO Batman 3’s more prominent faults for an enjoyable Bat-experience.
Developer: WayForward Technologies Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Unless you were really paying attention, you probably missed that a largely entertaining Batman beat ‘em up side-scroller released for the Nintendo Wii and DS. It’s a shame it kind of snuck out because it was relatively fun and not bad to look at.
Brave and the Bold is based off the cartoon series of the same name and features Batman teaming up with Robin, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, and more (depending on the platform) to take on a host of DC supervillains. Players can team up with a friend in the Wii version or swap between the two available heroes on the handheld console.
The concept is simple: join Batman and friends as he puts a stop to some of the most powerful villains in the Brave and the Bold universe. This includes duking it out with characters like Two-Face, Catwoman, Gorilla Grodd, Mongul, Clock King, Heat Wave, and so many more. Brave and the Bold does well with its most important aspect – combat. It may not be too deep, but brawling with a friend and calling in super-powered help makes for an enjoyable Batman-lead title.
12. Batman: Arkham Origins
Developer: WB Games Montreal Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Of course, it wasn’t the first entry in Batman’s “Arkham” series. We never start at the true beginning, which is where WB Games Montreal picked up for Rocksteady’s popular Bat-series. Though Arkham Origins suffered in the gameplay department and didn’t feature Kevin Conroy or Mark Hamill in their leading roles, it was still a solid Batman game.
Set five years before Arkham Asylum, Batman is only in his second year of crime fighting, making him more inexperienced than the gruff Caped Crusader of Arkham Asylum and City. After Black Mask leads an escape from Blackgate Penitentiary, Batman is faced with his first truly deadly night in Gotham. Killer Croc, Penguin, Deathstroke, and, of course, The Joker are sure to put Batsy through hell.
The result is a game that would have worked better as an introduction to the Arkham series, especially with the minor drop in overall quality. WB Games Montreal did the best it could to mimic Rocksteady’s style and delivered with a suitable Batman game.
One of the best iterations of the Dark Knight has to be Batman: The Animated Series. It’s the outlet that gave us the iconic pairing of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as the titular hero and The Joker respectively. It stands to reason, then, that one of the best Batman video games would surely be based on the same source material.
The Game Boy game based on Batman: The Animated Series may not be much to look at, but the side-scrolling gameplay across levels fashioned after Batman’s greatest foe made it a game worth playing. If you can get past the repetitive audio, you’ll be met with an experience that does the Caped Crusader justice.
While the gameplay isn’t all that deep, The Animated Series features a simple story that utilizes classic Batman characters like Robin, Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman, and The Joker. Arguably the best part about The Animated Series is the clever boss fights that are well-suited for each villain.