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Batman Arkham VR

The Best Batman Video Games

I’m Batman.

I can’t imagine that there are many more people left on the planet who are still yet to find themselves innocently walking along the street, sitting in a café or just generally resting at home before at some point gruffly whispering under their breath, “I’m Batman”.

Why do we do this? Because although society for the longest time has tried its hardest to teach us to take pride in being ourselves, it’s always all too tempting to just be Batman. As the old adage goes: always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then be Batman.

And thanks to the wonder of video games, we can. We can forget our regular, mediocre lives where we have to wear regular clothes that don’t incorporate a cape, and pretend for a few hours that we are, indeed, the caped crusader. Of course, some games do this better than others – not all Batman games are created equally. And so here’s our pick of the ten best Batman games, old and new.

Batman: Return of the Joker

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Not to be confused with the 2000 animed movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, the video game Batman: Return of the Joker was released for the NES in 1991 before eventually being ported to the Game Boy. Don’t be fooled though, you won’t be scrubbing many fingerprints in Batman: Return of the Joker; instead you’ll be far too busy chasing down the all-too-popular titular villain, the Joker.

In an unprecedented move not really explored in Batman games, Batman: Return of the Joker has you taking down your enemies from a distance as opposed to getting up-close and personal. It’s a side-scrolling action game that absolutely nailed the gothic aesthetic sometimes seen in the character’s history, complete with multiple boss fights and stages. For a NES game, Batman: Return of the Joker definitely has some stand-out moments.

Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu

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Heavily drawing inspiration from the absolutely fantastic Batman: The Animated Series, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu was a refreshing shake-up of the Batman formula. Unusual for a Batman tale, Rise of Sin Tzu isn’t one that’s focused on a certain clown criminal – instead, it has you facing off against the entirely original eponymous antagonist.

Batman Rise of Sin Tzu was released in 2003 on PlayStation 2 during the height of its popularity. It’s notable for being one of the very few Batman games that lets you play through beat ‘em up story with in local co-op thanks to the inclusion Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing.

Sin Tzu was an entirely original villain created for the game by long time comic book artist Jim Lee, and is one of very few to be created especially for a video game. If ever you’ve wanted an authentic 90’s Batman experience within a 3D game world, Batman Rise of Sin Tzu does a nice job of balancing both the familiar and original.

DC Universe Online

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Expanding the DC universe and successfully translating it into a living, breathing MMO world, DC Universe Online is a game that gives you the opportunity to be Batman’s protégé in training.

Although it can be difficult to get into for newcomers, the sheer scope of DC Universe Online is impressive – as is the fact that we can live out our superhero fantasies in our own way. There’s nothing quite like getting together with our friends online to clean up Gotham City like every good member of the bat-family should.

Batman Returns

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Released in 1992, a time when all we had to judge the quality of a game on was was how kick-ass its box art was, how could we resist reliving the events of Tim Burton’s blockbuster sequel in Batman Returns?

A classic brawler in the vein of Golden Axe and Streets of Rage, Batman Returns is a side-scrolling beat ’em up that was available on Mega Drive, NES and SNES. For its time, it was a bit of a visual treat thanks to the variety of tools Batman had under his belt. For a game based on a movie, it was a real joy to play, successfully translating Tim Burton’s vision to the small screen in video game form for an all-round great time as the caped crusader.

Batman Arkham VR

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Surely no other game lets you feel more like Batman than one that does so in virtual reality?

Available on PSVR and PC, Batman: Arkham VR is a unique experience that expands upon established lore within the Arkham-verse. It extends the deep story already formed in Rocksteady’s popular Arkham series, giving us a deeper look into Batman’s inner psyche. Look down at your waist and there is the bat belt; look at your chest and there is your cowl – Arkham VR brings us closer to Batman than ever. If you’ve got a VR headset and are a fan of the World’s Greatest Detective, then Batman Arkham VR is an absolute must play.

The Adventures of Batman and Robin (Sega)

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Developed by Clockwork Tortoise and published by Sega, the Genesis/Mega Drive version of 1993’s The Adventures of Batman and Robin is something of a run ‘n’ gun game that pits our two heroes in a thrilling race against time to thwart a dangerous Mr. Freeze who plans to freeze over Gotham City. The game’s stellar synth soundtrack alone was enough to get us pumped as we fought crime along the city streets, all in glorious 90s fashion.

Whether by going it alone or playing in local co-op with a friend, the Sega version of The Adventures of Batman and Robin is noticeably more faster paced when compared to the SNES version (which was developed and published by Konami). It makes for a welcome change of pace to the more slow-paced experiences which focus more on Batman’s methodical side than pure kick-ass action.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

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So we may be cheating a little here since Injustice doesn’t solely focus on Batman, but this DC-themed beat ’em up still places the Dark Knight front and centre. Both Injustice: Gods Among Us and its most adventurous sequel Injustice 2 tell a coherent and interesting elseworld story, and packed with Easter eggs, subtle references to the DC universe and Batman itself, both games are must-plays for any self-respecting Batman fan.

The Injustice games may not be the first time we’ve had the pleasure of seeing DC characters butt heads with each other (that honour goes to Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe), but Injustice truly embraced the “easy to pick up, hard to master” sentiment often found within fighting games. Both titles offer a sense of depth and technicality that put them shoulder to shoulder with any other competitive fighter. But Injustice lets you be Batman. Need we say more?

Batman: Arkham City

Batman Arkham City

Successfully building on concepts first seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City from Rocksteady Studios tells an inherently Dark Knight storyline that manages to both respect the character’s history and give us a completely new perspective on Batman.

Penned by The Animated Series’ writer Paul Dini and set in a fully explorable section of Gotham City, Batman: Arkham City gives players the opportunity to develop Batman in their own way, tackling villains and solving crime however they see fit. Perhaps one of the best open world Batman games we’ll ever see, Arkham City is an experience we’ll not forget any time soon.

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

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Complete with a fully explorable brick-based Gotham city, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes really shows us that being a plastic minifigure doesn’t hold Batman back from being awesome.

Featuring over 70 heroes and villains from DC comics to fool and play around with in LEGO form, LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes comes complete with the cheesy wit of early Batman TV series along with a respect for the lore that we just can’t get enough of. Not to mention it features the famous movie soundtrack we all know and love. More recent LEGO games may have gone on to expand the LEGO DC Universe, but we love LEGO Batman 2 because it’s all about our favourite masked hero.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

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The first Batman game from Rocksteady Studios released in 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum completely reinvented Batman video games. An action-adventure game, it gave players the opportunity to explore a fully-featured 3D version of Arkham Asylum, Gotham City’s infamous prison for the criminally insane. Featuring Batman and all his greatest foes, by the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the titular location was practically a character in itself, with the player gradually revealing more about its history and villains throughout as they played.

Complete with digital detective mode, a full suite of bat gadgets and a smaller yet equally impressive bat cave, Batman Arkham Asylum has gone on to inspire not only a series of sequels but its own in-canon universe. An all-time classic in every way.

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