Archive for the ‘Video Game’ Category

  The third Arkham game based on Batman is more like an off-brand product licensed by the real thing.

That’s not a bad thing here. I like these Batman games, I am very much looking forward to Arkham Knight, it’s just that Origins doesn’t quite feel the same. Which should be true, the developers of both Asylum and Arkham City, Rocksteady, didn’t put their hands into this. Arkham Origins was made by WB Games, who did great for the most part.

There are some things about the game that, coming from to amazing games prior, make this feels odd. Such as during combat, it is more counter heavy, some enemies need two counters, it throws my timing off. Not a big deal, and you could say it is an evolution of the combat system, making it more complex. I will argue none of those things needed to change that way, and it’s frustrating to lose a long combo just because some martial artist thugsman needed me be to press the button twice when almost every other counter needs one. And yes I know those enemies with the knife are different, but I’ve never been able to pull off that specific special take down consistently enough for me to remember.

Combat in Arkham City was fluid. You could glide in from above and smash a henchman before he knew what was up, hop over and take two of his buddies down with a couple of hand to hand strikes, then quick-fire Batman’s batclaw at a fourth dude who ran around the corner just to be grappled and drawn towards you and smashed to the ground. I’m not saying that can’t happen, just there are slight tweaks that throw me off before any of that can take place organically as it once did.

Not to mention there seems to be far less grapple points than I remember previously as well. Before it seemed like wherever you stood, or move five steps and Batman was zipping around like he was some sort of “spider” man. In the new installment, once you get up and get going, yeah it’s great. There are a lot of times when I found myself just running around trying to latch on to something and can’t. Sometimes the location of the grapple point is too specific and if you’re not aiming precisely Batman just stands there, wishing somehow he could get up to that air duct five feet above his head.

There was that one time during a fight with Killer Croc in the beginning of the game, the screen went black and all I could see was the health bars. The sound was still audible, and I won so this one-off glitch wasn’t game ending.

If you are going to play this keep in mind one of the many glitches this game has is one that corrupts your progress. It hasn’t happened to me, though I hear that part of it has to do with the Anarchy missions, which I haven’t tried yet. Just keep that in mind.

Once you get past the weirdness, which for the most part is not that bad. I like the story. Black Mask hired a group of assassins to take out The Batman. Some big names show up, Deathstroke and Bane, and some lesser known bad guys try to kill Batman, The Electricutioner and Copperhead being two. Copperhead in this case is not a guy, they made her into a lady. I think it makes things more interesting for the character. Of course that plan is not how the whole story goes down. The Joker shows up at one point, which pokes some chaos into the mix, and this is supposed to be the first meeting of Batman and The Joker.

So you have a younger Batman and The Joker. They look and sound like it as well. Roger Craig Snith and Troy Baker lend their voices to Batman and The Joker respectively, and do an excellent job. They are trying to emulate Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to a degree, I’d like to see what they could do without that.

And the best thing in the game, that was introduced in Arkham City and expanded upon here is the investigating and detective work. There are several occasions where Batman deconstructs a crime scene going through evidence, looking at what is presented, and does actual detective work. It’s awesome, I wish there was more. Mechanically all you do as a player is look around and hold “A” at the prompt, but I like showing Batman as a detective, and that’s all you really need to do.

Should you play Arkham Origins? If you liked the previous two, then yes. If you haven’t? It’s called “Origins”, you are not going to get lost if you know Batman is Bruce Wayne. Just be wary of the of the ways this game can act up.

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   The Sunsoft Batman game for NES was good, it had great design and a great soundtrack. Revenge of The Joker is a semi-sequel to that game, which was loosely based on the 1989 Batman movie.

First the good bits. The Batman sprite is decent, the Super Nintendo can handle more colors than the NES, so The Dark Knight is more than just a purple-blue hue and has skin tone with a grey suit, blue cape and cowl,  reminiscent of the Batman 66′ television series. There are twelve stages plus bosses, each aren’t too long, I never came across any checkpoints, but the levels are also tough. They all have a variety between them as well. Two dimensional platform shooting on one, and the next is a horizontal shooter with Batman riding a flying motorcycle. I didn’t even know Bruce had one of those.  Luckily the passwords the game uses are four characters long and easily input.

When it comes to the bad, it’s a lot of control trouble. Batman isn’t the nimble ninja of the night he should be, I had a hard time shooting bad guys right in front of me before he jumped away, or have some other foe spawn in on top of me. They can hit me just fine, rather efficient way to drain my health, but I can’t shoot them. The bullet-batareang-star projectile things never hit them, and there are certain places in specific levels that, I’m pretty sure, are designed to kill you. The first level has the gargoyles that you can’t kill or hit, but they shoot lasers that can kill you dead with swiftness, and the last level has the places where these weird Joker styled tiny helicopters come out of nowhere, dive in a pattern and leave. There’s such a short reaction time that, if you don’t know they’re coming you are dead.

Then there are the perplexing pieces. Such as why does Batman have a gun, and that he can fire it at an alarming rate. Some of the hits you take from the enemies take way more health than you would think. A bullet to the face will take off one or two pieces of health, but there is  in one of the stages an attacking tree, who then creates a tornado that take off half a health bar, then boomerangs back to finish off the job.

Honestly, the game isn’t my favorite. It might be good for a curiosity and a good hour. The password system makes it so that you can see most of the stages without having to learn patterns for hours, if you decide to take a turn.

We all have these things we’re some how able to see into “The Matrix” of them and just know how they work, and to third parties watching said activity looks amazing.

Most Two dimensional side scrolling beat ’em ups are not that for me. Which is what the SNES Batman Returns game is. Sure I have a bit of fun for the level or two I can get to by myself, but there’s always this part where it’s either a group of enemies that are too much and I can punch in both directions at once, or i get to the third level boss, who promptly depletes my health and lives like his life depended on them.

Whatever shortcomings I have with the game don’t detract from what I like about it. The opening scene has the Batmobile zooming out, then there is this awesome looking Batman sprite walking down a Gotham street punching clown degenerates in the face, or when the dudes on motorcycles show up, giving them a swift jump kick to help them off their bike.

The animations are decent, Batman’s fighting style is clear, and from what I’ve seen the game doesn’t slow down that bad, but again that is only the first two levels. When you’re done pounding the clown thugs face in, they blink and fade away.

One of these days, when I have an enormous amount of free time I’d like to go back and  tackle this one with more  perseverance. Until then I’ll just have to settle for little victories.

Gotham City Imposters

Posted: December 15, 2014 in Video Game
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A Team Fortress 2 styled first person shooter is not the style a Batman game you might think of. Ever, I didn’t. Gotham City Impostors exists, and does an excellent job.

It takes its liberties with the license, such as you don’t play as any established characters, they’re more generic men and women in different classes a la TF2, and there are only two sides, Team Batman and Team Joker.

The gameplay is like any modern First Person Shooter on PC using keyboard and mouse. However, the thing that makes GCI stand out from, Team Fortress 2, is the implementation of gadgets.

There’s a grappling hook that lets you zip up to places otherwise unreachable, a cape gliding mechanic so you can swoop across the map, and rocket skates. Those are used to zip around on the ground. Combine the skates and a ramp, plus the cape glide and you can reach places that seem out of reach.

You can customize your character as well. There are a variety of different styled masks to choose from making it easy to be semi-unique, which is cool when you see someone flying around in a costume you haven’t gotten yet. Everything isn’t unlocked from the start though, and the sweet chest piece you want to roll around in might be several dozen hours away from earning, that can be a bummer. Also, you can get these weird familiars that follow you around when you play. I never figured out what exactly they did, if they do anything more than be a cosmetic little thing that buzzes around your head.

If you have a PC that can run a game decently, and have had some fun in TF2, check this out. It’s free-to-play.

Batman: Arkham City

Posted: November 24, 2014 in Video Game
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Much like all video game sequels, Arkham City takes what Asylum did, and blew it up. Think Rick Moranis and the movie with the giant toddler and less summer blockbuster.

Story goes, Gotham sectioned off part of the city to keep criminals in, like a giant jail under Doctor Hugo Strange’s authority. The district they quarantined off just so happened to have, a museum, theater, hospital, courthouse, bank, chemical plant, and a steel mill. Because when you’re putting cutting off a giant portion of city and converting it into a prison, the inmates are going to want to govern themselves and have some culture when they aren’t thieving? The position of Arkham City always got me wondering why there? I think I heard there might have been an earthquake or something sectioning off a convenient piece of land. That part wasn’t in the game so, that part could be false.

That’s really a non point article to point out anyway. The map is bigger than in Asylum, Batman has more moves such as being able to takedown multiple targets at once, more gadgets including a zip line so you can quickly launch yourself not the air and glide around for faster travel, more villains, and you get to play as Catwoman for certain story missions. Plus not only are those two included, but Robin and Nightwing are in the Riddler Challenges this go around. All four have different variations in combat maneuvers and weapons they use, but are all similar control-wise.

The main story is alright. Its got its twists and turns, never being as obvious as it is in others. The ending is alright, though the only major thing to happen at the end can be reversed with a simple sentence. Batman does fight Ra’s al Ghul in a fantastic boss duel, with swords. You also see one of the reasons Ra’s has been around so long.

Traversal wise, You go all over the map effectively enough, though the game does make you backtrack a couple of times. The worst parts aren’t that bad. However I do detest going back into the sewer to find those last few of Catwoman’s Riddler Trophies.

There are a lot of Riddler Trophies. Over two hundred in the main game added to the challenge mode medals you get in challenge mode. Some trophies are super simple to figure out, you stand at point A and throw a batarang at point B, and the trophy unlocks from its cage. Then there are those that, are trickier and I don’t know how to get, still. And I’ve been trying for a while. It’s not quite, “well goddamnit let me look at a FAQ” yet, but I know I’m being stubborn at a thing as soon as I get it I’m going to think, “How did I miss that.”

Overall Arkham City is a lot of fun, there are some unique boss fights. There is never that I am the Batman moment like in Asylum, butthat’s a feeling you only get once, then you just kick-ass as The Batman.

Picture this, you see one of your favorite television series, Batman: The Animated Series on the cover of a video game. Then you see there is a version for a console you own, and can purchase the game at that moment. I was excited when that very scenario happened to me in my youth.

Say what you will about the Sega handheld itself, it did what it set out to do, and destroy batteries. I never took mine anywhere to make it a portable system, I always used the A/C adapter, so I could actually finish Sonic 2. But that’s neither here nor there… Batman!

The game itself is a two-dimensional platformer, where you as The Dark Knight go through various stages and levels punching bad guys, who are all robots, in the face until you reach a named boss like The Mad Hatter at the end of the level. Then you move on through the series of stages to a showdown with The Joker and rescue Robin, or something. I don’t remember the story being very clear, but it has been awhile since I’ve had a chance to play.

Playing as Batman is fun. The jumps are a little wonky and slow, but when you’re a child that is only able to get a limited number of games you learn to deal. And not even for that long either, the game has maybe four or five stages with multiple levels, the hardest ones having lame elevator puzzles. Bosses pose a little more threat than regular enemies though not much more, that just means they might have a special attack or two and a longer health bar.

What makes the game even easier, are the weapon pickups. You can easily stock a pile of super effective weaponry, taking down the like of Mr. Freeze in a matter of a few quick button presses. Which works in other games, like Mega Man. Difference being, in Mega Man you can pick which levels you want to play in any order and figuring out which boss is weak against which weapon type is a bigger puzzle, in Batman the levels are in a linear order, and the weapons are so plentiful it doesn’t matter. Just bulldoze through the whole game.

Adventures of Batman and Robin is not a bad game, there are a lot worse, less obscure titles out there. It is however, not that great a challenge, and super short. First time I played this I had the game beat and was watching credits within a few hours. So if you find this in a garage sale, and you’re Game Gear’s left directional pad button isn’t broken, the game is decent enough to not where out its welcome and you get to see most of it before you get too bored of it.

The Genesis and Super Nintendo had their fair share of Dark Knight related games. Since those bat-movies were coming out when those game systems were popular, and there were a couple of movie based games. This is one such title.

Looking back on it, other than Mortal Kombat, the digitize your actors style graphics never appealed to me. The actors they had portray their parts in this game were passable. At the time there was no High Definition anything, despite what the Genesis had written on its top.

I’ve found the best way to describe Batman Forever the game, is it wanted to be a side scrolling Mortal Kombat. Seriously. There are high and low punches and kicks to attack, and a block button. Only difference was, Batman had a grappling hook. A very bad, awkward, clumsy grappling hook. I remember the grapple animation looking weird for Robin, like he was extending his staff from his lower region.

So, the game itself plays just like you would think a Mortal Kombat II style side scrolling action game would. Slow and lumbering, not how anyone would begin to describe Batman. The thing MkII has, is because it’s a fighting game the farthest you travel is maybe a few screen lengths. It gets real messy when your trying to travel around whole platforming levels. Plus, add in that grappling hook mechanic and you’re going to have a bad time.

Not that the idea of giving Batman something to get around faster, or find secret areas with is a bad one. It just doesn’t work. I got this game for christmas one year, and probably spent the better portion of a good month futzing around with that damned hook. Trying all sorts of button combinations and not having success, and then maybe having some and not knowing what just happened. I got a strategy guide, that didn’t help with uncovering the mystic ways of the grapple.

It is possible to beat the game, I have. It’s not what I would call an enjoyable experience by any means. The Circus level is when it goes downhill fast, and that’s the fourth of about eight levels.

Lastly, this game has so much in common with the before mentioned Mortal Kombat, that this has a two player mode, where you can fight in the Batcave. You can choose the plethora of characters throughout the game, but if it isn’t Batman, or Robin its a “holographic projection” or something of the bad guys, which are all blue. If you don’t have a better fighting game available it’s alright, at best for a few rounds. There are Batman video games that are magnitudes better than this, play them, not this.

 

I was a little kid and didn’t understand technology all that well, when I’d describe the best Batman game ever, I came awfully close to Arkham Asylum.

Before this game, Batman in video games was in the range of kind of alright to just terrible. I remember this game being the type of wait and see how it goes deal as well. Especially when the combat system debuted, I was as unsure as anyone that style of fighting could work.

Although, right from word go I had high excitement. The main writer from the Animated Series, Paul Dini, was heading the script. Equally as important, both Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill were reprising their respective roles, as well as a few others. Rocksteady Games knew where they set their target at. Sky high.

Arkham Asylum is as fun playing Batman as you think it is. Just walking around as The Dark Knight started making me feel like I was Batman. The next thing was you beat down a group of thugs with a simple set of buttons, in the combat tutorial. Which throughout the game get expanded on with the gadgets and adding in extra combo moves you unlock. That first section ends and throwing fists and batarangs seems easy, while jumping through a number of enemies. And then the best part comes.

Batman walks into a hospital ward with several of The Joker’s henchman patrolling the grounds with firearms. Batman being easily susceptible to death by bullets in this game doesn’t mean those thugs aren’t going down. I went through a vent leading to the first victim, sneak over and a blow to the head takes him out. His friends get alerted to his demise by The joker over a loud-speaker, and come rushing over to see, and as Batman I fired my grappling hook to a gargoyle above on the ceiling, then swing around to be on an adjacent wall and perch, watching the “guards” freak out. Now when they patrol, the buddy system is in place, and the couples split off. Scared the twosomes look around wildly swinging their guns shaking, calling out in desperation, “we’re gonna get you”. I sat in my nice safe place, waiting for them to pass by. When they do, the first one gets let go for now, but as soon as his back is turned the second gets scooped up from above and tied up. The enemies converge again, but this time I already have the high point, and one noble fool decides to run across a bridge in the middle all alone. leaping from my position and using Batman’s cape to glide a bit, the lonesome man gets a face full of boot. The others go down one by one, getting more panicked each time one of their comrades fall. Eventually they start firing the guns aimless into the air, sometimes they get smart and destroy the hiding places up above. No matter, when the last one remains and the hunt draws to a close, I toyed with him by following him for a bit, staying just outside his vision. The thug’s pattern leads him around to a vent on the floor, I make my way to it before he does. When he walks right over me, calling for Batman in a last-minute attempt to sway what he already knows is going to go down, and before he finishes I leap out and choke him out.

That’s it. That is where the game went from, oh it’s Batman punching fools in the face, to, these men are simply antelopes grazing on grass while Batman is a lion ready to pounce on his prey. And you are Batman. Being either evenly matched or overpowered in video games happens a lot. The feeling of being outnumbered and outgunned, while still feeling like you have the upper hand happen far less, if at all. Arkham Asylum takes some of these story moments out to a separate challenge section on the main menu so you can do them again, and compete for high scores. It’s cool to see who can be a more efficient hero. Some of the people at the top are crazy good.

The game also has sections of detective bits. Mostly following particles like blood, or in one instance the type of smoke from Commissioner Gordon’s pipe to get from one section of game to the next. It may be a contrivance leading you around places, but it does make a more complete Batman.

There are more weird video games tropes as well. Such as Batman calls in to Oracle and gets extra equipment sent to him, at one point by the Batplane crashing into the roof of the Botanical Gardens. Which makes you wonder, why an ASYLUM has a separate building for botanical gardens, then you realize it’s probably because of the patient who can control them. The Dark Knight should always be prepared and not need to do that. The spots where it feels super video gamey is where you get experience and level up Batman, to show player progression. I’m sure a man does not gain more health, nor does his gadgets get more a more diversified way to use them by beating people up. Not that it’s a real complaint. Being a few hours into the game and you get a new gadget, or combat maneuver is a good way for you to mix it all up at the end.

Even death is entertaining, and all that happens is the villain gets up all in Batman’s face with a game over type quip on a black background. Every main boss has multiple sayings, and sometimes I’d die on purpose just to see what the likes of Poison Ivy would say if she ever beat Batman.

At this point, if you haven’t played any of the Arkham games yet and like video games I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you’re waiting for the batsignal to lead you in the right direction. Or a Steam sale, which this game does from time to time, and you can get this extra cheap. You won’t get disappointed.

 

 

Batman: NES

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Video Game
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Batman on the NES from Sunsoft might not have been the first video game to feature The Dark Knight, but it is the earliest Bat-game I can recall playing.

Bat_title

Title Screen!

Loosely based on the 1989 Tim Burton Batman movie, this is a 2D side-scrolling platformer that has five stages with multiple levels and culminates in a battle with The Joker.

The graphics are decent for 1990 Nintendo Entertainment System. The Batman sprite looks like what it’s supposed to, although maybe a little blue-purplish for my taste. The Joker looks like his namesake as well, albeit he is bigger than Batman, which isn’t far from expected in an old-school video game

Batman and Joker are apparently not the only two named characters in the game. There’s an enemy that has a gun and just stand there shooting at you in regular intervals, that’s supposed to be Deadshot. The charging foes that come at you sometimes in twos and threes is Maxie Zeus, and the first boss is Killer Moth while the boss before the final showdown with The Joker is Firebug. You might not have ever known that if you didn’t look it up, and you can also mistake one of the bigger foes on the third stage as Killer Croc. Which is understandable, because that’s what I did. They are actually mutants The Joker made and sent them after Batman.

Killer Croc? Nope just a mutant…

The game has a nice added ability to the jump from one platform to the next routine in the minor addition of a Ninja Gaiden like wall jump. It doesn’t add much, but it does make it so the game has harder platforming puzzles. They get harder towards the final stages, you might have to repeat certain sections, because the jumps aren’t as precise as you would like. Especially when you have to make a blind jumps to reach the next part and you fall back to the start of the zone.

Jumping around like a fool isn’t the only thing you can do. Batman has a few gadget/weapons you can use to take out the bad guys. First the most common is his fist, because you need to pick up ammo for the others, but a punch in the face is an effective close-combat strategy. Then fast enough after a you smack a dude or robot to dispatch them they will drop batarangs, that look like regular boomerangs, but whatever, they are fast and effective. The two other projectiles you get seem weird and out-of-place for Batman. The rocket/spear gun, which is just a gun that fires rocket like projectiles, and a shuriken like disc attack that splits into three of itself before flying off-screen. The latter is super useful, but uses three ammo per shot. Which makes me think why they didn’t just try combining the batarang and the disc to make a more Batman-esque weapon set, but they also put a gun in the game so Batman-esque is close enough.

If you’ve never played the game before it’s worth checking out, however slow and frustrating at times your first progress might be because of the tricky jumps. Of course the excellent music in the game doesn’t hurt either. You hear the level one theme a lot, if you’re bad, like I was. The rest of the stages are equally as good and there are variations of the main theme throughout them, And maybe, if you make it all the way through taking down The Joker after you watch the credits, you’ll have the same question I did. Since when can The Joker control lightning.

Batman_Joker

Final showdown. The gun is probably as long as his leg…