Batman, dark and brooding. The Brave and the Bold cartoon series is the opposite of the themes we tend to associate Batman with providing comedy, bright colourful art and a lot of wacky stories. I’ve never seen it, I’m just guessing from what I saw in the videogame adaptation. Forgot the darkness of Arkham Asylum and the Dark Knight, instead let us play through a Saturday morning show where Batman is a bit of a cocky jerk and his side kicks get on his nerves.
You’d expect a licensed game to be a bit rubbish, especially one targeted at the younger Batman fanbase, but this is polished, fun and one of the best looking 2D games you can find. I heard the TV show was really good with some smart writing which didn’t demean the audience and entertaining enough to even please the older viewers, be it parents, delinquents or those who just don’t want to grow up. I fall into two categories there. Using cells from the cartoon, the game looks as close to a cartoon as you can get, it really is a bold game with the characters moving fluidly and the areas standing out with silhouette scenes or giant explosions. It even has some animates sequences made just for the game as it tells four separate stories with Bats having a new side kick each time as they take down the next villain. Taking down involves jumping, punching goons and collecting coins to upgrade. Repeat, rarely vary.
It’s a simple game anyone can pick up and learn, which suits the target audience, but perhaps the game is too simple. You can complete the game by just using the A button for fighting and you have unlimited lives. Sure you have gadgets such as bombs, swords and baterangs, but they don’t really seem worth it when you can just bash A and succeed. If a room appears to be full of enemies just call forth your other hero who unleashes a screen killing attack. Levels are generally short so the pacing keeps up with the rather limited nature of the game, but a whole episode can kick the wind out of you as far as enthusiasm goes. With a friend it becomes a much more entertaining experience, even if you don’t really need them by their side. Fun in miniature doses.
It seems like a pretty game with basic gameplay, but the quality of the visuals, writing and character choices really come a long way to bringing it up from the depths of mediocrity and into something worth digging out when you want to beat bad guys up with a friend, no intense concentration needed. Aside from Robin, Batman doesn’t get the most well-known heroes. Blue Beetle, Hawk Man and Guy Gardner with back up from the likes of Plastic Man, Aquaman and other equally famous heroes. Not forgetting the most iconic villains such as Clock King, Mongul and… you get the idea. These are nobodies in the world of DC. Has beens who couldn’t make it into the big leagues and Brave and the Bold relishes in this. It’s refreshing to see such a rag-tag cast and the dialogue and jokes between the characters is pretty fun. Robin is ignored by everyone, Blue Beetles won’t stop talking, Hawk Man shows concerns over his age and Guy Gardner is a jerk who tests Batman’s patience. He is the perfect straight man to this zany cast and it helps cement the game into the mind. Even if you do spend most of the time doing the same thing again and again.