This list was going to be "The 10:47 Best Batman games", but that isn't exactly a catchy title. Few would probably get the reference, anyway. But if you do get it, hurrah!
Batman is kinda popular these days. Though he's been on our radar for decades, he really became a mainstream figure when Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins came out and changed the awful taste left in everyone's mouths by Batman Forever. Fast forward 10 years and The Dark Knight is more popular than ever.
With the release of Rocksteady's final installment in the Arkham trilogy, Arkham Knight, not to mention a pretty big movie coming out next year, the Caped Crusader's popularity isn't fading anytime soon. So we thought: what better time to count down the best Batman games of all time? (Just a forewarning however, Arkham Knight is not in the list due to its very recent release.)
What better way to start the list than with one of the oldest Batman games! Batman: The Video Game was based on the mega-successful Tim Burton movie released in the same year. The game was loosely based on the movie and featured quite a few more obscure villains - KGBeast, Heat Wave, Shakedown, Firebug and Killer Moth.
The game received positive reviews and still holds a respectful 78% on GameRankings. The most impressive feature of the game was the ability to wall-jump, a move only previously seen in Ninja Gaiden.
Rarely, if ever, has Batman ever looked as cute as he does in the LEGO games. But don't let the cuteness deceive you, the LEGO Batman series is a great one that any Bat-fan should play.
Chock-full of references to the Bat Universe and hilarious characters that remain true to their legacies and charming plots, all of the LEGO Batman games are great. That being said, I chose the second game in the series because it built upon the original in great ways and opened up the world, whereas the third was more of a Justice League game, and not as good anyway.
Batman Begins, a forgotten tie-in to the Christopher Nolan films, completely redefined Batman to mainstream audiences. The game, however, was not that well-received, for reasons that still baffle me.
Batman Begins was a great tie-in to the movie, featuring awesome combat, great stealth mechanics, Tumbler levels, and an incredibly cool fear system. This game introduced many cool features that make it a wonderful Batman game that was sadly overlooked.
Ahh, here we have the ugly duckling. Every family has one. Yes, Arkham Origins is the red-headed stepchild of the Arkham series but it is often judged far too harshly.
Following up two of the best games of a console generation was never going to be an easy feat, especially considering it had to be prequel, but Warner Bros. Games Montreal did a fine job. I mean, let's face it, we're spoiled now when it comes to Batman games, but had this game come out when Arkham Asylum did, we would have melted over its greatness.
Arkham Origins isn't without its issues, but it is a freakin' fantastic Batman game with a huge open world, great boss fights and fun story. I believe IGN described it best in their review when they said:
"Batman games are like pizza: even when they’re not very good, they’re still pretty good."
AS I LIVE AND BREATHE! Here we have the very successful MMORPG with the best intro cut-scene of anything ever. Period.
With over 18 millions players, DC Universe Online is the most successful free-to-play game to ever hit a PlayStation system, and rightfully so - the game is big, wacky and (most importantly) fun. Create your character, make him look like Batman but run like The Flash, fight gorillas in the streets, etc. DC Universe Online is a great Batman game that continues to expand with DLC.
Based in the world of The Batman Animated Series, Batman: Vengeance takes place between that show and its successor, The New Batman Adventures. The game benefited from a cartoony art style and the show's iconic voice actors (who went on to voice the Arkham series).
The gameplay was a little wonky, although as long as you still feel like Batman it gets a pass. But the story and cut-scenes are what made this a very memorable experience. To this day I can recall Joker swinging on a wrecking ball, trying to destroy Gotham Bridge, and taunting me. But I got him.
And here we have the crown jewel of the Batman games. Arkham City followed up the much-beloved Arkham Asylum and expanded upon it in almost every way.
Taking Batman from the confined setting of the iconic Asylum and dumping him in the middle of a city-turned-prison, Arkham City upped the stakes for The Dark Knight and pushed him to his limits in what is one of the best Batman vs. Joker stories ever told. Definitely one of the best games of its generation and the defining Batman game to date.
About the only good thing to come from Joel Schumacher's Batman movie was the game. OK, I'm being facetious - the movie is definitely watchable and charming in its own bizarre right, but this game was pretty great.
Released on the SNES and Sega Genesis, Batman Forever was a side-scrolling beat 'em up that allowed you to play as Batman or Robin as you ploughed through levels of ridiculous enemies. A product of its time indeed.
Here we have another ugly duckling from the Arkham franchise, which isn't all that ugly. Blackgate was a 3DS/PS Vita game that released alongside of Arkham Origins and put Batman in a Metroid-Vania perspective. Sounds awesome, and it almost was.
Blackgate had all the makings of a really amazing 2.5D Batman game, but its frustrating level design and repetitiveness made it fall just short of glory. That being said, the game was still a ton of fun, had awesome comic book cut-scenes and condensed the Arkham series combat into 2.5D really nicely.
You can also get this game on PS3 and Xbox 360, but it looks and plays best on the PS Vita. Sadly, mediocre reviews and sales denied us a sequel that was already in the works!
And in our penultimate chapter we have a fighting game from NetherRealm Studios, the madmen that brought you Mortal Kombat. Much like DC Universe Online, this technically isn't a standalone Batman game, but he's heavily featured in it and is awesome - what more do you need?!
Injustice: Gods Among Us is an awesome fighting game that pits DC superheroes against one another in a Flashpoint-style story that features Big Blue as the bad guy! As always, Batman is a badass and a heck of a lot of fun to play. Whether you're thwacking Bane with Batarangs, hitting Raven with the Batmobile, or just kicking Joker in the face, it's always a blast to play as Bats.
And last but so very, very far from least, we have the literal game-changer, Arkham Asylum. This was Batman's triumphant return to video games, and his best ever fair in the medium.
Before Asylum, we had gotten LEGO Batman and Batman Begins, two really good games. But neither was the huge, standalone Batman title that the character deserved. In stepped Rocksteady.
Due to the lukewarm reception of many previous Batman games, few were excited about Asylum. Most of us were at least keeping expectations in check. So when the game released in 2009, it blew everyone away. It's easy to forget how monumental this game was, because every Batman game before it had been good at best, and awful at worst. But this wasn't just an exceptional Batman game, it was just a brilliant game full stop.
So while Arkham City, and presumably Arkham Knight, improved upon the formula and rank higher in some lists, Arkham Asylum was the one that changed everything, gave Batman the game he had always deserved, and started something pretty special.
So there you have it, the best Batman games of all-time.....according to us. There are a slew of Batman games out there, but not so many that were really great titles. Yet we managed to rack up 11 of the finest Bat outings.
History has given us some respectable movie tie-ins, games that merely featuring the Detective, and even LEGO Batman, but it's undeniable that Rocksteady is the king of Batman games. Arkham Asylum changed not only our perceptions of what a Batman game could be, but what a superhero game could be. And for that, we salute you, Rocksteady!
What were your favorite Batman games? Let us know in the comments below!