It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a year since the stellar Batman: Arkham Asylum showed the world what a comic book inspired game could really be. After so many months of waiting, we finally have the next title brandishing the Batman name… the new game we’ve all been waiting for! No, of course it’s not Arkham City, I’m talking about Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a Wii exclusive beat em up based on the cartoon series of the same name. While it may be seen as the “other” Batman game, this campy version of the Dark Knight does plenty to entertain. And he brought a few friends along this time…
Developer WayForward has proven to be a master of the old school style and they further show their talents with this title. Much like the SNES games of yesteryear, players can team up in jump-in jump-out co-op while taking on the crime of the world. Choosing between Batman or one of his always present sidekicks, players will use various attacks, grabs and a bit of waggle to unleash powerful techniques and solve the occaisional puzzle. Stringing together combos forces the enemies to explode into money, which can be cashed in to upgrade special attacks. Rewards such as boosts in health and money reward those willing to search the stages as well, all in the trademark Brave and the Bold style, (incredible animation, voice acting and hilarious dialogue between the campy teams.)
Much like the show, the game is separated into episodes, each one with a different setting, villain and sidekick. The DC Universe is rich with super heroes, so we were sure to get the cream of the crop to fight alongside the Dark Knight, right? All stars like Hawkman… Blue Beetle… and Robin. At least Green Lantern is playable, but don’t get too excited… it’s Guy Gardner. Well… at least Batman has so many great enemies to choose from. Not this time though, because we get the likes of Clock King, Gentleman Ghost and Catman. Even the one shot striker heroes are some of the more obscure characters the DC world has to offer. Remember Plastic Man, Black Lightning and Red Tornado? Didn’t think so. But at least they’re useful, because the sidekicks are the standout of this beat em up.
At the beginning, you’ll notice something peculiar. The sidekick is a lot more awesome to control than Batman, (save for Hawkman. I hate that guy.) While it’s obvious that everyone will want to jump on to the chance to play as the titular character, Batman slowly builds up an arsenal of gadgets, weapons and abilities while the sidekicks usually start off with unique abilities from the get-go. From Blue Beetle’s array of gadgets to Green Lantern’s awesome motion controlled ring abilities, I never felt like I was getting shafted when using the sidekick in a co-op game. By the end of the game, Batman is definitely the king of Wayne Manor, but the game manages to be fun no matter who you’re playing as.
Unfortunately, it seems to be the nature of this genre to have two major flaws; repetition and length. The game is fun, sure, but pressing the same buttons and performing the same combos gets as old as Alfred after awhile. The game is best enjoyed in sections, since I was ready to spray shark repelent in my eyes before playing any longer after an extended session. But even without marathoning the game, Batman’s adventure is over pretty quickly, with a meager 5 hours to finish the game, upgrade all of the equipment and finish the unlockable challenge map. Even at a reduced $40 price tag, you’d have to be brave and bold to shell out the cash during such a competitive season.
Even still, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a worthy purchase for fans of the caped crusader. The attention to detail in the animation, the laugh out loud humor and the multiplayer features, (including DS link support,) are worthy of any super hero team. It is best played in pairs, so make sure you have your own personal Robin to sit around and play it with you to get the most out of it. If this game had been released 15 years sooner, it would be considered a classic, but even when released in an HD era, Brave and the Bold manages to be a well made throwback to when games were basic, simple and most of all, fun!