In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, developer WayForward has created the first realistic superhero game ever: you cannot die in it. And if we know something about superheroes, it’s that no matter how many punches they receive and how much they get shot at, they don’t die. Or if they do, they come back. It never really made sense to see Superman go down from receiving too many bullets in a video game, for instance. So here, the heroes always get back up, and the only penalty when your health bar drops to zero is you lose some of the coins you collected from the bad guys you beat up, coins used to purchase and upgrade your weapons and gadgets.
What’s that? Since when does Batman rob the bad guys he beats up, and what use would Bruce Wayne have for that money? Well… I guess the game is no so realistic after all, but it seemed like a good way to open a review.
Aaaanyway. As you can guess, this mechanic makes Batman: TBATB a far more casual beat’em-up game than the coin-munchers from the arcades. In fact, it makes it an ideal game to play with a kid (unless you want to protect him or her from cartoon violence). The whole game is meant to be played cooperatively, one person controlling Batman, the other controlling one of four different sidekicks or superheroes tagging along, depending on which of the four “episodes” you’re playing. Even if you’re playing by yourself (the same way I did), the AI will control the other character. You simply miss out on having a smarter partner and on bragging rights at the screen at the end of each stage showing which hero did better.
With no risk of failure whatsoever, can a beat’em-up still entertain and be fun? Apparently, yes. The enemies will never win, but that doesn’t mean they can’t kick your ass, and to prevent that, you will have to master a variety of moves. You will want to have the longest streak of hits without getting hurt yourself in order to receive more coins from the baddies you knock down, and that can be pretty satisfying.
Pulling a page from Uncharted, the heroes constantly banter throughout the levels. That dialogue doesn’t repeat (until you play the game again, that is) and is almost always interesting or amusing. Through the whole first episode, for instance, Batman and Robin argue about which cat-themed villain is behind the museum heist they’re investigating, with Robin teasing Batman about how he’s constantly defending Catwoman and how obvious it is that he has a thing for her.
It’s obvious that the show this game is based on doesn’t take itself seriously, and the game just reflects that fun. The game is about 6 hours long, and then you can unlock at least one special challenge or simply start over and continue upgrading your gear or play as the different secondary heroes. Beyond that, you’re pretty much done with it. I can see children not minding playing it over and over again, but older kids might want to simply rent the game.
You're a machine, dude. Good review. So the combat is satisfying? I have to try this game. Especially after Shantae. Are you tempted to try the similar, but unique DS game? Which turns into a Bat-Tingle Tuner?
It is, but with the whole "can't die" thing, you have to really make a conscious effort to use all of the moves. For instance, I kept forgetting I could backflip out of trouble.
Or there are two kind of super attacks that charge over time that you shouldn't just save up until you meet a boss (because you will have lost it by then anyway). You should use them as you get them, because they'll charge up again pretty quickly anyway.
Not sure if I'll get the DS game, it seems pretty short and it's $30 over here.
It sounds kind of like Lego Star Wars (or any of the other billions of lego games) in the way that you aren't really penalized for dying. Maybe it's my fault for growing up in the NES era but when you can't die I really lose interest in a game quickly, there's no reason to try so I just slog through...
Sounds like a neat game though, I like the art style and the banter sounds funny.
Thanks for the review, I've been interested in this game, and it seems I was right to be. A solid WayForward effort after all, eh? I'm enjoying Shantae right now, but this will be the next one on my list. I like that mechanic whereby you can't really die, and stellar play is rewarding. I suppose Kirby's Epic Yarn shares a similar mechanic. It's great for co-op games with lesser-skilled gamers, and I have no problem with it.
You had me at entertaining and fun beat-em up. Nice to have another retail entry to the genre, besides MadWorld and Spyborgs. And a 2D one, no less!
Maybe I should have emphasized a bit more that I think kids would be more likely to replay this over and over than we would. The whole "keep a combo going" thing keeps your interest the first time through, but since the game doesn't save scores or what your longest combo was in a level, it's unlikely you'll go back and try to "perfect" a level. It doesn't have a medal system like Kirby does, either.
The banter is indeed funny. It goes on through entire levels, and it's the actors from the show, so it's like listening to an episode while you play. I only gave an early example because I didn't want to spoil the best parts, but the Blue Beetle episode is hilarious, tons of 4th-wall-breaking there.