As a child of the 90s, to me Batman has always been defined by the landmark animated series that ran from 92 to 95. While my parents grew up with Adam West’s campy interpretation in the 60s, for me Batman first and always was the caped crusader portrayed in the uncharacteristically mature and faithful animated adaptation, and its various continuations and spin-offs within the DC animated universe. Naturally I ate the Christopher Nolan films up with a spoon, and Batman: Arkham Asylum was essentially the second coming of the Dark Knight for me.
Conversely, I glossed over The Batman animated reboot of the mid-2000s and when Batman: The Brave and the Bold showed up, sporting the same styling and humor as the cornball 60s show, I just rolled my eyes. Why go back to BAM! WHACK! POW! when Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and Christopher Nolan had practically perfected Batman?
Well, it turns out that I may have judged too quickly. If the game is any indication, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is more about poking fun at the Hokey 60s Batman than revering it as the gold standard. I’m not exactly going to go back and watch every episode of the now sadly canceled Brave and the Bold TV series, but I have a much better picture of where the writers were coming from. Incidentally, the show’s throwback camp parody and art direction make for a pretty great retro-style video game.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold video game is essentially an old-school 2D brawler with some platforming, puzzling and light RPG elements thrown in. While you can play it solo with an AI teammate taking over for your partner, like most classic arcade brawlers this game really should be played with a friend. You and a buddy take the roles of Batman and Robin, and in keeping with the theme of the TV show, a few other playable heroes are unlocked later.
The levels are split up into unrelated story arcs unto themselves, intentionally forming a miniature fourth season of “episodes.” While the settings change and there are some creative set-piece moments, the gameplay stays pretty consistent throughout. You’ll face waves of thugs and occasional big enemies and monsters, with a few miniboss battles and a big fight at the end of each episode. Batman and his allies have a decently varied moveset which is distributed evenly between button presses and gestures across both the Wii remote and Nunchuk. While you can survive by just button mashing, learning the various combos and special moves makes the experience flow better and is ultimately more rewarding.
A much larger roster of heroes can be called upon for screen-clearing assist attacks, which can be powered up by shaking the Wii remote. Each assist hero has a different attack and you can choose these allies before a level, so it’s a good idea to experiment and see which ones work best for each episode. If you have the DS version of the game, you can even have a third player connect to the Wii and control Bat-Mite with the DS; he’ll appear on the big screen to drop items and harass enemies with bombs.
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