To celebrate The Batman arriving in cinemas, I decided to check out all of the Batman-related movie tie-ins! Honestly, it made sense to me months ago when I came up with the idea.
I’ve already covered the nine worst Batman movie tie-in games, so it’s time to look at the best! Some of them may surprise you.
10. Batman (Ocean Software)
Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, PC, ZX Spectrum
Batman has to stop Jack Napier, but first he has to stop Jack’s men!
These versions follow the plot of the movie pretty well, with platforming sections (using a grappling hook to go to higher floors), vehicle sections, and even a science section. As far as “Batman” goes, it’s rather good, even allowing you to climb up your rope and grab enemies as they walk past. Admittedly, as a game it’s pretty good too! Of course, the Amiga and Atari ST versions have driving levels, better graphics, and music, but the platforming is fairly good across all of them.
9. Batman Returns (Aspect/Malibu Interactive, Sega)
Game Gear, Master System
One Winter’s day in Gotham - trouble!
As you would expect, these two versions are the same game, but one has a smaller screen. However, the Game Gear version has an opening cutscene! Certainly not what I expected, I’ll be honest. It’s a loose adaptation for sure, with levels seeming a bit random, but you do go up against Catwoman a couple of times as well as Penguin. You only have the grapnel and Batarangs, so it’s definitely light on gadgets, but it’s a fairly tight game.
8. Batman Returns (Konami)
Batman has to stop The Penguin and save the city (also Catwoman?)!
Both versions are solid side-scrolling beat 'em ups, with the only major differences being graphics, and whether the driving levels go vertical or horizontal. Oh, and the NES version has female enemies alongside the male ones. The music in the SNES version is better, of course, but gameplay wise they each have their pluses and minuses, yet aren’t distinct enough for me to split up in this list. Another one where Catwoman is more of an afterthought…
7. Batman Returns (Spirit of Discovery, Konami)
Circus performers are attacking a crowd, so Batman heads in to help!
This is a point-and-click adventure, if you can believe that! While it tries to adapt the movie, it’s a bit on the looser side. The action is largely automatic, but in between setpieces is where this game shines, bringing the “Batman” of it all to the forefront. You’ve got to choose your gadgets, “analyse” evidence with the Batcomputer, choose which locations to visit… Compared to the rest of this list it’s definitely on the slower, calmer side of things, and it’s got some fantastic graphics to boot.
6. Batman (Atari Games/Numega Team, Midway Games, Data East, Namco)
Batman must put a stop to Jack Napier!
Following the plot of the movie with plenty of sound clips, this is actually the best representation of Batman, and the most fun, out of all of the games tying into 1989’s Batman. While gadgets are swapped automatically depending on which ammo you picked up most recently, there are zero weapons that resemble guns. What’s more, the enemies are normal thugs with guns and knives (also a ninja). My only gripe is that the driving levels have you shooting enemy vehicles, but the Batmobile did actually have a machine gun in the movie.
5. Batman & Robin (Probe Entertainment, Acclaim Entertainment)
Mr. Freeze is up to no good, can Batman solve the clues to stop him?
Being released on only one system really let developer Probe Entertainment focus on the gameplay. You have to piece together clues to work out what the next heist is going to be, by finding things on random thugs in the city, or in hidden rooms. Then you need to get there in the Batmobile in time to stop the crime, while being dogged by enemy vehicles and stopping to help the police. As an adaptation it’s not very good, but as a game it’s got a lot of great touches, hampered only by the tank-style movement controls. And the giant spiders…
4. Batman Begins (Vicarious Visions, EA Games)
Game Boy Advance
Batman has to find Jonathan Crane to put a stop to his experiments!
A platformer beat 'em up which follows the plot of the movie well. This may have been more at home on the DS, though, as it has far too many gadgets and moves for the number of controls it has. They could have also put in checkpoints… Nonetheless, it’s a good adaptation and has a lot of Batmaning in it, it deserves a place on this list.
3. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Kemco, Ubisoft)
PlayStation, Nintendo 64
Batman must stop The Jokerz!
Another side-scrolling beat 'em up, this one is full of bosses from the movie along with being a decent adaptation. There are plenty of gadgets to use, and while it’s not your average Batman it’s still a Batman movie. Definitely one of the better games on this list, though it’s frightfully short.
2. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Kemco, Ubisoft)
Game Boy Color
The Jokerz are attacking Gotham Air & Space, Batman has to stop them!
A side-scrolling beat 'em up which does a great job with the hardware. While obviously cut down in the graphics and sound department, it’s not as big a difference from it’s console counterpart as you might think. It has the same bosses and levels, and even the same cutscenes. It does help that they were static images, too. It’s higher up the list, as it is more fun.
1. Batman Begins (Eurocom, EA Games)
GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Jonathan Crane is experimenting on people, and Batman has to stop him!
The only truly third-person action game on this list, and using voices and footage from the movie it’s based on, perhaps the truest adaptation. Of course, being a game you still have loads of enemies to beat up, but the main thing you need to do is to make them afraid, which is something that the movie delves into. With a couple of driving levels rounding things out, I definitely recommend this game.
So there you have it, the top Batman games to play after watching The Batman, and wondering what its videogame adaptation would have been like. It’s not like there would have been a bunch of different versions of the same game, after all.