Video Game Review: ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame’

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CHICAGO – It’s rare to find a tie-in of any kind — whether it be to a film, television show, comic book, or just a line of toys — that works as well as the surprisingly-fun “Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame.” Where most tie-ins miss the elements that work about their source, “Brave and the Bold” works by perfectly building on what fans love about the popular cartoon. Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

The cartoon version of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” works from a classic superhero comic structure — the team-up. The show features a revolving door of superheroes and villains, allowing the writers to pull some truly unheralded characters from the vaults like Black Manta, Fun Haus, and Clock King. With a very cartoonish style as opposed to the dark tone of recent Batman cartoon incarnations, “The Brave and Bold” discards some of the more intense themes of the Dark Knight in favor of an old-fashioned fun ride.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame
Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame
Photo credit: Warner Bros Interactive

How do you translate that to the game? First, the developers smartly focused on the teamwork aspect of the show, designing a game that emphasizes co-op play. Not only is the entirety of the game designed around two players, but you can also bring a “backup hero” into combat and use them as needed. Before a level starts, you pick another hero like Aquaman and call in reinforcements when combat gets intense. The game also allows control of Bat-Mite in the Wii version by linking it with the Warner Bros Interactive DS version.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame
Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame
Photo credit: Warner Bros Interactive

As for the structure of the game, it’s divided into episodes not unlike the TV show, complete with a boss battle in the opening level, credits, and then the meat of the episode. The game is a pretty-traditional side-scrolling affair that uses both Wii controllers in movement and combat. It’s essentially a button-masher with waves of enemies awaiting your gloved fist or latest Bat-weapon. Weapons are chosen with the directional pad and used with the Z button. C blocks. B jumps. A punches. Combinations of the above do various things like lunge, grab, and throw. It’s very standard stuff that will be easy-to-grasp for even little ones in the family.

With such an old-fashioned, simple game design, why is “Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame” such a successful title? Because it proves that not everything in the video game world needs to be intellectually-challenging and that even relatively generic games like this one can deliver a unique brand of fun. Some will find “Brave and the Bold” too “kiddie” or repetitive, but if you judge a title based on its own terms, this one works.

The three reasons that “Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame” work are a consistently-innovative upgrade system that even allows for replayability, a clever emphasis on co-op play, and surprisingly impressive graphics. “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” looks great. Sure, it looks a bit retro but the cartoon style fits perfectly with this title. It’s not going to win any awards but it looks “right” and that’s what’s important. As for the upgrades, your players are constantly collecting coins which can be used to purchase new gadgets and weapons, keeping the title fresh well into the gameplay.

“Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame” features the same voice cast and clearly the same tone as the show. As Batman, Robin, Blue Beetle, The Flash, and many more jump, zip, and glide through a number of unique environments, it’s hard to believe that fans of the cartoon won’t get the same gleeful charge that they do from watching it. In fact, after recently reviewing the DVD release of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” I have to say that this diehard Batman fan enjoyed the game version more than the TV one. A video game tie-in that works better than its source happens once a year. If we’re lucky.

‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame’ was released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developed by WayForward. It is rated E 10+ (Everyone 10 and Older). The title is available exclusively for the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS. It was released on September 7th, 2010. Check out the official site here. content director Brian Tallerico

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