A Brief History of Batman Video Games



Today was the release date for the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game, and now that you have that information, you can probably guess how I’ll be spending the rest of my night.

But before you jump into Batman’s latest button-mashing adventure, why not take a look back at the highlights (and lowlights) of his previous ventures onto consoles with my latest piece for ComicsAlliance: A Brief History of Batman Video Games. Rather than my usual style of scanned panels, this one takes advantage of that lazy blogger’s best friend, YouTube, to bring you gameplay footage from the early days of the movie tie-ins to the inexplicable Gotham City Racer.

So enjoy, and if you’re like me and you have a cherished memory of staring at the television on a bleary-eyed Friday night trying to master that friggin’ wall jump before you had to take the game back to Sycamore Video, feel free to leave a comment!

37 thoughts on “A Brief History of Batman Video Games

  1. Gamefly’s hooking me up with this some time this week. I’m probably way too excited about it. But it’s a legitimately good Batman game! That never happens ever! (Except maybe Batman: Vengeance. I remember liking that, but that was in the dark days when all I had access to was a Gamecube).

  2. ‘Nuff respect for mentioning Revenge of Shinobi including the Sonny Chiba intro screen. The crazy part is how that last revision of the game turns the bootleg Batman into something that looks a bit like Man-Bat.

    This may be too obscure for a comic feature but I remember that Sunsoft’s Batman game for the Genesis was supposed to be just for Japan. EGM did a story with screenshots and people went NUTS. It was one of the first games I can remember coming to the U.S. because of gamers’ demands.

    Enough of my yammerin’. That was a great article with the high points, low points and the rare mention of the earlier computer game.

  3. i got Arkham Asylum today. SEVEN HOURS LATER i ate some food. And i dont even usually like video games that much anymore.

  4. Sin Tzu was so lame he couldn’t even get face time in his own video game trailer? That’s rough.

  5. Fact: Both commercials for this game were unbelievable.

    Seriously, the one where Batman is just wrecking skeleton shis has got to be one of my favorite commercials ever. The first time I saw it I literally spent the entire time saying “OH SHIT!” over and over.

  6. Dude. I spent the entire day playing this. It is amazing. At one point (SPOILER ALERT!) Batman calls in his goddamn Batplane to drop off a new toy for him to zip around with. At first I was like, what the fudge? Guy could’ve solved a lot of problems calling in that plane earlier. But then I realized…

    It’s fucking Batman. Having the plane do all the work is like cheating himself AND the poor bastards that he’s about to absolutely destroy with counter-attacks out the ass.

    Also he has this one takedown move that is literally meant to crush a man’s balls to prevent FURTHER psychopathic criminals in Gotham’s future. Muthafucka is planning AHEAD!

  7. My special favourite Batman game was the Gameboy one, that sort of tied in with the first film. It had platformy jump-and-attack levels, and excellent Batwing shoot-em-up levels. It was hot shit.

    Apart from that, I was surprised by how many of the games in that list I have actually played. I must have really liked Batman as a youth, which pleases me greatly.

  8. The PC version doesn’t come out until next month. On a related note, I hate you all.

  9. I kinda want to get an Xbox just for this game. I’m not going to, but the desire is there.

  10. That Sin Tzu game actually looks pretty fun. Not Arkham Asylum fun, but still, you have to love the Timm visuals.

  11. It’s not, trust me. I bought it used, played it once, and traded it back in. I so wanted to like it, because it has Babs as Batgirl! But no dice.

  12. “I kinda want to get an Xbox just for this game. I’m not going to, but the desire is there.”

    The playstation version has an exclusive “Play-as-the-Joker” mode.

    Do you have this on Playstation, Chris? Is this as awesome as it sounds?

  13. David, did you try the PC demo? Outside of some weird issue with my controller where forwards and backwards were oddly reversed (no such glitch with the keyboard controls), we’re getting an awesome game. Hopefully, NVidia’s PhysX engine is worth the extra wait.

  14. Yeah…I know there’s no ‘list’ of who does what first, but Angry Video Game Nerd did this a while ago, and was a lot funnier and more objective in his reviewing. Plus he dressed up as Batman while he reviewed it. That’s dedication.

  15. Chris I demand that you dress us up as all of the characters you discuss in your posts. I will be expecting your Anita Blake cosplay photos shortly.

  16. Yeah…I know there’s no ‘list’ of who does what first, but Angry Video Game Nerd did this a while ago, and was a lot funnier and more objective in his reviewing.

    Cool story, bro!

  17. I was under the impression Chris always dressed up like Batman when he writes his posts. And he plays the Doogie Hoswer theme music as he types and pauses for a wistful look into the distance before finishing with that perfect finishing sentiment.

  18. ShadowWing:

    I did. Multiple times. I couldn’t get it to recognize my controller at all, though – had to go with WASD. Wasn’t bad, but I’d like to use an analog stick. The game itself was amazing, despite the brevity of the demo, and it did compare favorably to what I saw on the XBox. So once I’ve got it I’m sure I’ll be glad I waited, but until then I reserve the right to plan the deaths of people who don’t have to wait.

  19. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m pretty sure they created this game just to explain the Aparo Effect.

  20. Seriously, Batman Arkham Asylum should be called Batman Psychotic Stalker. There are times when I just hang around and listen to the conversations of the inmates. They did a hell of a job in fan service with all the little hints of other batman rogues and of course the great play on “Papa Spank”. I’m nearing the end and I still have half of the Riddler puzzles to figure out.


    That was one of the first games I owned for the SNES. As a result, I played it a shitload even though I hated it. Why did I hate it?

    I could never get past the first fucking level. The friggin’ control scheme was absolutely indecipherable.

  22. I love every aspect of this game, but honestly. The Riddler is the driving force in the game, for me. Batman keeps saying “not this way, i have crap i have to do” and i keep thinking “shut up, we have to find these Riddler challenges!”

    Screw saving the lives of people… i want to outwit Nygma.

  23. You know there was actually a Batman Begins tie-in game? I’m not surprised if you haven’t heard of it. Supposedly, it had this whole “fear system” thing where the amount of sneak attacks you did sort of accumulated to the point where bad guys would be afraid to attack you.

    The game didn’t just hold your hand the whole time, it put you in a stroller and pushed you the whole way. Need to vent poison gas from one level? Batarang locks on to the necessary window. Trying to get the drop on evil guys? Don’t worry, they all follow one pre-set pattern a ten year old could pick up. You could probably beat it in a day or two.

    Sure, the atmosphere was good, but I was looking for something a little more challenging, and Arkham Asylum seems to have fit the bill.

  24. Yeah, Arkham Asylum is really a war between the people on the staff who got Batman’s cast and understood “Serious House on Serious Earth” and the people on staff who thought it was still 1997.
    I mean, it’s definitely got the best engine and style of any Batman game so far and I know Batman’s been fighting giant mutated guys since the 40s, but…

  25. The planet of `imho words mean what I want them to mean not what they commonly mean or how they’re defined in any so called dictionary’. Its the next one over from the planet of the capes and many of its denizens have stumbled through a giant pink monolithic portal system and found themselves trapped on our internets.

  26. I was going to chastise you for omitting the Gameboy game, but others beat me to it. I played the shit out of that game.