Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Conroy’

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.

 

 

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We all have we consider to be the ultimate version of Batman. Maybe you were at the right age when, Adam West was Batman on television, or Neal Adams began his run on the comic, or you saw Frank Miller’s The Dark knight Returns in some local shop, or Christian Bale in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Mine started in 1992 and starred in his own television cartoon, was a special guest star on another, and then became a major player in a superhero team up series, ending in 2006. Fourteen years is a long time in comics, and it was a spectacular run.

If you didn’t know, I’m talking about Batman: The Animated Series, and I dare to say I’m not the only one who thinks the production of visual style of Bruce Timm and the stories Paul Dini took part in creating are some of the absolute defining stories the Batman has ever had, and most of them take place in under thirty minutes.

First, the voice acting is some of the best I’ve heard. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are perfect for voicing Batman and The Joker. Conroy can be smooth and authoritative at the same time, unlike Christian Bale’s “I swallowed a bunch of nails and screamed at a metal concert for four hours” voice. Where you would need a good bit of rasp is The Joker. Mark Hamill has that, where his Joker can speak understandably in a laugh-like cadence, but his laugh sounds like Joker’s throat being destroyed by years of doing that laugh over and over. Honestly I didn’t even know that was him until I looked up who it was, and I was surprised. Not to put anyone else down. They were all great. When I read Batman comics to this day this is the voice cast I hear in my head.

This is the place where a lot of Batman’s rogue gallery introduced itself to me. If they weren’t on Batman 66′ T.V. series, like Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy. This is also the birthplace of the Paul Dini created Harley Quinn, The Joker’s girlfriend/ top henchwoman.

Harley Quinn

Also, it gave a personality to Mr. Freeze. Beforehand he was just a villain who like the cold. The Series gave him a personality that was as cold as his surname name, and now Victor Friese had same background with some humanity, and a reason for his cold lack of emotion. Freeze had a reason to steal whatever he was stealing. He was helping his sick wife. Giving sympathetic reasons behind some character like that gave Batman a different road to go down besides just, lock’em up in Arkham and let the doctors try to help them.

Finally, even though this was an “Animated Series” it was not a Saturday morning affair. It was a weekday after school show. Maybe that was reason enough to let Batman do things the Spider-Man cartoon series couldn’t do. Peter Parker never threw a punch that hit anyone in the Marvel show, but DC allowed Batman to punch a man in the face in the opening of the show.

The show still has some effects on today. If DC Comics announces a new animated Batman the first comment I usually read is “Is Kevin Conroy doing the Batman voice,” or Mark Hamill if The Joker is in it. Which I have asked myself a few times, but I don’t mind other people giving The Batman a voice, as weird as they will sound at first.

The Dark Knight

If you are young enough that this is “before your time”, check this out, the art and the stories hold up magnitudes higher than the Superfriends cartoon from the seventies and early eighties.

 

Specifically, if you’re interested

Two-Face” parts 1 and 2. Origin of Two-Face

Heart of Ice” Mr. Freeze’s origin

Beware the Gray Ghost” Batman teams up with his old hero, voiced by Adam West

Robin’s Reckoning” parts 1 and 2. Dick Grayson’s origin story

Over the Edge” Crazy Batgirl story, might be the best episode.

Almost Got ‘im” Four villains tell their story about how they almost got Batman while playing cards. My personal favorite.