After the success of his most recent theatrical outing, Batman fever has once again struck the nation. Now, audiences are either eagerly or nervously anticipating Gotham Knights, depending on their taste for loot mechanics and interest in a Jason Todd who looks like Shrek. Overall, the Dark Knight has had a pretty good run in video games, with the Arkham series in particular being fan and critical favorites. But it hasn’t been all roses for Bruce Wayne, and having his parents killed in an alley isn’t the only tragedy that’s befallen him — he’s also been the star of a number of truly rotten titles.
7. Batman: Gotham City Racer
“It’s the car, right? Chicks dig the car.” It isn’t the car. It was never the car. This actually could have been a lot of fun if it was a Batman kart racer — like, imagine the Batman Returns McDonalds toys racing around cartoony stages. It’s not that, though. No, in Gotham City Racer you drive the Batmobile around Gotham City racing the clock to catch escaped criminals. But hey, at least there are some incredibly compressed clips from The New Batman Adventures crammed in.
6. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Based on a direct-to-video 2000 movie, Return of the Joker is not to be confused with Sunsoft’s Revenge of the Joker for the Genesis or Return of the Joker for the NES. It’s a beat-em-up style game where players take on the role of Terry McGinnis, who dons the cowl after Bruce Wayne goes into retirement. Bruce picked a good time to get out of the game, because this title was roundly thrashed by critics back when it was released for its ugly visuals, unbalanced difficulty, and lackluster AI. Appropriately enough, the movie it’s based on was also somewhat cursed, coming out as it did right after the 1999 Columbine school shootings drew scrutiny to violence in children’s media. In the original ending, ex-Robin Tim Drake shoots Joker dead — but in the edited final release, the Joker is instead electrocuted.
5. Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Dark Tomorrow is right! It’s hard to make out anything in this game, which emphasizes Batman’s “no killing” rule by forcing him to beat thugs into submission before handcuffing them. Batman’s probably doled out a lot of traumatic brain injuries, huh? Dark Tomorrow pits Batman against Ra’s al Ghul, and features a number of different endings — though most of them end with Batman dying and/or Ra’s al Ghul flooding the world. There is a “good” ending to the proceedings, but it proved too obscure for many players to discover.
4. Batman Begins
Released just four years before Arkham Asylum, the game adaptation of Batman Begins could be considered kind of a stumble towards the success that title would eventually find. There’s beat-em-up gameplay as well as stealth segments here, and a kind of neat mechanic where Batman can instill fear in his enemies. But then you have to drive the “Tumbler.” At least the whole thing looked kind of nice for the time.
3. Batman and Robin
While the movie has its fans, few would go to bat (sorry) for the video game adaptation of Batman and Robin. There are terrible car sequences here, but that’s the least of the game’s problems. Batman handles like an early Resident Evil character, with tank controls that require him to spin around before he can move in any given direction. There were some neat ideas here, like events keyed to certain times on an in-game clock, but Batman and Robin is one of the worst tie-in games for a Batman movie ever made. You can barely even see the nipples on the character models!
2. Batman Forever
Before Injustice, we had Batman Forever — a game that used Mortal Kombat-style fighting in a beat-em-up setting. Batman walks back and forth through dimly-lit areas, occasionally obscured by foreground objects. You then engage in slow, drawn-out one-on-one fights against random goons. When you’re not doing that, the game asks you to trigger complex button combinations to activate basic abilities, and makes you locate the pixel-perfect locations to use your grappling hook to ascend or descend to different levels. Oh, and there are loading screens, which was a rarity for a cartridge-based game. “Hold on” is actually pretty good advice if you’re thinking of playing this, though.
1. Batman: Arkham Knight
I DON’T WANT TO DRIVE THE FUCKING CAR