Batman is one of the most popular superheroes the world has ever seen. Despite not having any super-human abilities or powers, he’s put his billionaire fortune to good use, taking to the streets to fight crime on countless occasions and gaining legions of loyal fans and a scattering of enemies both in the fictional world of Gotham City and in real life.
One of the ways in which Batman is brought to those real life fans is via the medium of video games, with some of his most recent expeditions on consoles celebrated as some of the most exciting gaming titles of the past decade or so. It may have taken a while for a great Batman video game to be brought to super fans, but now the Dark Knight looks to be on a roll like never before.
With all of that in mind, we decided to take a look at the hefty back catalogue of Batman video games, ranking (Almost) Every Batman Video Game, Worst To Best. Let us know if you agree!
20. Batman: Gotham City Racer (2001)
Dodgy controls and a lack of excitement weave throughout this poorly-executed title, which offers 51 levels of mind-numbing, boring gameplay that wouldn’t even entertain the most casual of gamers. Your aim here is to step into the shoes of Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl, as you’re challenged with taking out the various villains of Gotham while behind the wheel of the Batmobile and other unrecognizable vehicles. If you’re looking for a Mario Kart style party game set in Gotham City, this is unfortunately not the place for you. The game’s only saving grace is the cutscenes that are included. They come thick and fast as you make your way from location to location, and are taken directly from the TV series The New Batman Adventures. Those looking to find a good Batman game should steer well clear of Gotham City Racer. An incredible idea that could do well if stripped back completely and reinvented in the modern era, Gotham City Racer could have been something very special. Unfortunately, it’s an entry in the Batman video game world that’s better left forgotten.
19. Batman & Robin: The Game (1998)
Batman & Robin isn’t exactly the world’s most celebrated Batman movie, so discovering that the video game is one of the most mediocre attempts at bringing the Caped Crusader and his sidekick to gaming platforms shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. Not only did those behind the game deliver one of the most frustrating games of their time to players, they repeatedly pushed the title’s release back and had fans chomping at the big to get their hands on the game, hinting that it was going to be groundbreaking on many levels. With graphics that could have been impressive for their time (but have aged incredibly badly), along with terrible controls and boring puzzle solving, Batman & Robin: The Game didn’t seem to deliver on a single front, which is disappointing really when it gave you the chance to play not only as the Dark Knight, but as his red-crested sidekick and even Batgirl (for the first time ever!).
18. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
This single player scrolling beat ‘em up game is about as painful as it can get when it comes to a Batman title. Subpar graphics and sloppy execution combine with terrible gameplay controls, bringing one of the most disastrous attempts at adapting a Batman title to the world of video games. Based on the original television series, the game did have some good ideas such as switching between four different Bat suits, each with their own individual abilities and techniques, but they didn’t make up for the rest of the utter shambles that Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker truly was. A shame really, because putting the names of arguably the biggest hero and villain duo on the planet in the same title certainly had everybody excited and expecting more. If you’re desperate to find out why the game is so terrible, make sure you play with the volume turned down. An endless loop of mind-numbing music will drive you to insanity in record time. This should have been a classic.
17. Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)
The Joker takes center-stage once more as one of the main antagonists in Batman: Dark Tomorrow, kidnapping Commissioner James Gordon and holding the authority figure hostage at Arkham Asylum. An impressive roster of villains including Mr. Freeze and Ra’s al Ghul also make appearances, with a truly exciting storyline allowing those behind the controller to become fully immersed in the world being presented. Unfortunately, the great story and enjoyable in-game graphics are where the good aspects of the game seemed to end. Confusing mechanics and terrible camera angles meant that even if you wanted to enjoy the storyline, you’d have to have an incredibly patient nature to get even halfway into the game. It’s sad, as veteran DC Comics writer Scott Peterson and Dark Tomorrow co-writer Kenji Terada are clearly super talented and deserved a much better game to wrap their story around.
16. Batman Forever (1995)
Based on the movie of the same name, Batman Forever would see the player take to Gotham City’s streets and various iconic locations as either the Dark Knight or his sidekick, Robin. Whilst graphics looked to be very different to the usual style of the time, they didn’t detract from the disappointing controls and dull, uninteresting settings and scenes. Dingy and dark throughout, it would sometimes even be hard to see your character on the screen which would just add to the frustration of trying to make your way through the various levels of the game. Overall, Batman Forever looked like a washed out attempt to bring the DC Comics universe to life. Falling flat on its face, this is one better left to rot in the video game vault.
15. Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003)
Initially, Rise of Sin Tzu is actually one of the most enjoyable games on our list to play, but the mechanics do get old very quickly. Hammering on a few buttons to take down enemies can only be entertaining for so long, especially when most of the enemies all look identical to one another. While we know this is nothing new when compared to the time in which Rise of Sin Tzu was released, it still leaves a lot to be desired. What’s special about this game is its original villain – Sin Tzu – who was created by Jim Lee especially for the title. It was also exciting to not only play as Batman, but also step into the shoes of Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl, with two-player co-op even enabled. Unfortunately, no spark is ever ignited here. Some parts of the game are really special, but they don’t seem to fit together; it’s almost like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle you’re close to completing before realising 10 of the pieces have gone missing. Disappointing, but not dire.
14. Batman: Vengeance (2001)
Released to sixth generation consoles, Batman: Vengeance was based on the television series The New Batman Adventures and saw the Caped Crusader going up against some of his most infamous foes once more, including the Joker, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. A captivating storyline starts off extremely strongly, with many a twist and turn taking the gamer by surprise on their first run through the title. Whilst this is all good news for those who have been Bat-fans for some time, for the casual gamer the quirks would begin to wear thin after an hour or so. In saying that, Batman: Vengeance was released at a time when video games based on the hero were generally not very good at all. This game went against the grain in that it was actually extremely playable and, despite its various problems (none more frustrating than the shoddy camera work), it’s one that many will no doubt return to in the future if seeking out an enjoyable blast from the past.
13. Batman: Chaos in Gotham (2001)
Players can once more not only step into the shoes of Batman, but Batgirl too as they progress through the 18 levels available in Chaos in Gotham. A familiar story is told, with a breakout at Arkham Asylum forcing the Dark Knight to take to the streets in an effort to apprehend and detain the insane criminals causing destruction wherever possible. This is one of the earlier Batman games that managed to successfully implement the use of gadgets such as batarangs and grappling hooks, allowing those playing to really become one with the hero they were portraying on the GameBoy Color’s screen. Minigames are scattered throughout the gameplay, with simplistic controls and style weaved in. Glitches do plague a few of the levels which shows signs of a rushed production, which is a real shame as Chaos in Gotham had all the right ingredients to become a gem in the Batman video game back catalogue.
12. Batman: The Video Game (1989)
Loosely based on the 1989 movie, Batman: The Video Game is one of the most iconic NES titles ever released and was truly a diamond of its time. Containing just five levels but delivering a challenging and addictive style of play, the gamer would fight through a series of DC Comics villains to a dramatic showdown with the Joker. Whilst it does take a little time to fully master the controls and come to grips with traversing the various settings without suddenly plummeting to a grisly end, the result for those that do put in the effort is a hugely enjoyable few hours of play. In games of this type, the sounds and music used can quickly become irritating, but here they seem to fit perfectly, adding another level of charm to this quirky platformer. The game was released for Game Boy in 1990 and Genesis in 1991, but those versions were even further away from the goings-on of the movie and never impressed as much as the original.
11. Batman Begins (2005)
As Christopher Nolan kicked off what would become one of the world’s most celebrated big screen adaptations of the Dark Knight, a video game based on the first movie in that series – Batman Begins – was released, featuring the voices of all of the film’s original cast (with the exception of Gary Oldman). Whilst its movie counterpart would go on to become a huge critical and commercial success, the game for the most part was one of the most average Batman outings of all time. Bringing an original cast to a video game is always a brilliant move, and the graphics here were definitely extremely impressive at times, but lazy style of play meant that those behind the controller would quickly become bored. Nothing about this title was complex; instead it was a game aimed at the most casual of gamers. Understandable when you’re creating a title for the masses who have been to see the cinematic release upon which the game is based, but in making this decision the creators hampered the game’s legacy. A planned sequel was subsequently canceled – you can draw your own assumptions about that…
10. Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)
For many, Batman: Arkham Knight was a fun game and a great way to end the Arkham video game series. For others however it was one of the most disappointing gaming releases of the modern day, with criticisms coming in thick and fast, mainly due to much of the gameplay taking place inside the Batmobile. Utilising the car for a variety of puzzles throughout the game was a very bold move, but one that seemed to fall flat for a lot of those behind the controller. Blending various Batman story arcs such as ‘Under the Hood’ and ‘A Death in the Family’ together was certainly impressive work, but didn’t do enough to detract from the repetitive gameplay. Stripping back the amount of time the player had to spend behind the wheel would likely have given this game a much better chance to shine. Coupling that with the fact that publisher Warner Bros. were forced to stop selling the title on PC and refund those who had already bought it because the port was such a mess, and you have an extremely sloppy release. It’s a real shame, as the series is one that deserved a fantastic send-off. Unfortunately, the fireworks fizzled out abruptly and Arkham Knight left a stain on the much-celebrated franchise.
9. Batman: Return of the Joker (1991)
Entirely self-contained, Return of the Joker on the NES had one of the most compelling and exciting original stories a Batman video game not based on a movie property presented to the DC fanbase. The Joker here was up to his usual tricks, escaping from Arkham Asylum and doing his best to bring chaos to Gotham City. The player was able to jump into the Bats persona once more and get to grips with a fully-functioning utility belt, with various gadgets allowing you to reach new places and objects that would otherwise be inaccessible. A completely new version of the game was later released for Game Boy in 1992, but never reached the great heights of the original. Don’t try to fix what wasn’t broken!
8. Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)
An expanded Gotham City and original prequel storyline takes place in Arkham Origins, a spin-off based on the story told in the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games. Used as a stepping stone between the second and third entries into the linear Arkham storyline, this was the first time a fast travel system was used in the series, allowing the Caped Crusader to board his Batwing to various parts of the map. Many who played the game however wouldn’t go on to utilise that ability, instead taking the time to explore the open-world adventure; not a great choice, as much of the surroundings was dull and lifeless. A multiplayer component was also brought to the game, but it definitely wasn’t one of Origins’ standout moments. Putting those to one side, a great story and strong style of gameplay once again shone through, making this essential gaming for any Dark Knight fan.
7. The Adventures of Batman & Robin (1994)
This Super NES action-adventure platformer is one of the most addictive of the franchise, with the player following Batman through the streets of Gotham and into various other locations, going up against some of the most infamous DC villains at the end of each stage. The art style is also something to be celebrated here. For a game that was released in 1994, it still stands out as one of the most attractive Batman game presentations of all time. On top of all that, there were some real challenges in The Adventures of Batman & Robin! Those looking for something a little more difficult than the usual scrolling beat ’em up would find their solace here. The creators even saw fit to add in a special ending for those gamers who could complete the game on hard difficulty, which meant they would have to get from beginning to end in one sitting without the use of passwords. Again, new versions of the game were put out on other gaming consoles, but none could live up to the original.
6. Batman Returns (1992)
If you’re looking for the most impressive Batman video game of the ’80s-’90s era, look no further than 1992 release Batman Returns. Based on the movie of the same name, the game would take those playing it through seven scenes which all featured in the flick. For its time, the graphics here were hugely impressive, whilst the sound and controls wouldn’t prove as frustrating as they had been in previous gaming adaptations. This truly felt like the first time a Batman game had had a whole lot of time, effort and love poured into it, rather than being rushed to release simply to hit a deadline. Some were less than impressed with the originality the game presented, but if you’re going to base a title on a movie then there’s no better way to do it than this. Batman Returns is a video game legions of loyal fans will be returning to for the foreseeable future.
5. LEGO Batman: The Videogame (2008), LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012) & LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (2014)
Let’s face it; no matter your age, the LEGO video games are some of the most addictive and entertaining on offer despite them sometimes getting a bad rap. So for fans of the DC Universe, LEGO Batman came as a blessing and provided hours of nostalgic excitement, challenging the player to hunt down a roster of Arkham baddies, smashing LEGO bricks and unlocking various playable fan-favorite characters on the way. As the fifth entry into Traveller’s Tales LEGO adaptations of huge properties, LEGO Batman was able to learn from the mistakes made in the LEGO games that came before it, fix them and build upon the foundations of everything that its predecessors got right. Did we mention that an entirely original story was also weaved into the game? Of course, the game isn’t perfect but it became popular enough to spawn two direct sequels that would again improve on those that came before them, and Traveller’s Tales are still enjoying bringing major franchises to the world of LEGO. So go forth and collect those bolts in Batman’s world; there’s no shame in a whole lot of LEGO loving.
4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
Arkham Asylum was quite the beast of the video game world. Not many expected such a heavyweight to come bursting onto the scene, but this was the foundations upon which Rocksteady could build an incredible and hugely celebrated gaming series that is sure to go down in history. Without a doubt, the awe-inspiring voice performances from Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker played a huge part in making the Arkham series such a brilliant one, but they can’t be the only ones thanked for the success. The man who wrote the story – Paul Dini – deserves major props for building the foundations of such a groundbreaking series. In bringing Arkham Asylum to the fans, he finally cemented a real place for the Dark Knight in the world of video games. All that had come before Arkham Asylum quickly became obsolete. It was THE game to play and, with its recent remaster and re-release on next-gen consoles, it still remains a must-have for any serious gamer.
3. Batman: The Telltale Series (2016)
Batman: The Telltale Series was one of the most exciting gaming releases of last year, allowing fans of the Dark Knight to step not only into the shoes of the Caped Crusader, but into the role of Bruce Wayne; a rare and intriguing opportunity. Based on Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s comic book series, the game featured a branching storyline that’s now become the tradition over at Telltale Games and was split into five separate episodes which were released over a period of time. A variety of different writers collaborated on bringing this brand new story to fans, with the titular character’s portrayal earning a lot of praise from critics. Atmosphere, backdrops and gorgeous artwork meant that this was a series any DC fan had to get involved with, but unfortunately there were a couple of niggling technical issues from time to time which would draw the player out of the immersive world of Gotham and hamper the entire experience. With that being said, that wasn’t enough to stop the game from being hugely entertaining and enjoyable. This is a take on Batman at his best; compelling, imperfect and an enigma.
2. Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013)
Superheroes and villains have been going up against each other for what feels like a lifetime now, so NetherRealm Studios decided that the trend was one they could easily capitalize on with the development of DC fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us, blurring the lines of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ like never before. With a sequel right around the corner, it’s easy to believe that this was one of the most impressive Batman-starring games of all time, but that’s not just because it was incredibly fun to beat the living daylights out of one another by mashing a combination of buttons. A brilliant, original story was created by Brian Chard, Dominic Cianciolo, John Vogel and Jon Greenberg that saw Superman turn on his former allies, creating a New World Order and aiming to keep the peace through an authoritarian regime. Batman of course was not going to sit at the sidelines and watch this take place, so he went on to create his own insurgency which would go to war against those who stood by the Man of Steel.
1. Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Every tiny little thing that gamers found wrong in Arkham Asylum was fixed in its stellar follow-up Arkham City. Taking the core gameplay and mechanics of the first game, refining it and adding a little bit of polish meant that those already addicted to the series would feel right at home and could jump right back into the action without too much time spent relearning. Diversity in battles and multiple options of how to engage your enemies ensured a continuous and addictive level of gameplay, whilst the story being told was just as engaging if not more compelling than the one we were witness to first time around. Rocksteady here showed everybody exactly how a sequel should be delivered; Arkham City is a game that’s sure to go down in gaming history.
What do you make of our ranking? Are we being too harsh or too generous with some of these gaming titles? Let us know in the comments!