Monday, January 30, 2017

Rocksteady's Arkham Games Are All About The Joker

Batman is arguably one of the most popular, if not the most popular, super hero properties around. Mr. Wayne and the legacy of the Bat have traversed various mediums, from comics to novels to television shows to the blockbuster films with more success than any other vigilante out there. Though there are some less than great adaptations, Batman as a franchise has arguably been successful moving between mediums on every front, including video games, and none of the Batman games are as iconic as the Arkham franchise, and for good reason.

In 2009, with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady did what many thought was the impossible: the studio put players into the shoes of Batman in a way that made them feel like the Dark Knight. Powerful enough to take on 10 men at once, but not impervious to bullets, with access to a plethora of wonderful toys on the utility belt that felt like natural extensions of the character for not only combat, but environment traversal and puzzle solving, Asylum set the standard for all super hero games going forward. It wasn't just the gameplay though. Rocksteady came into the world with a large respect for the mythos of the character and his world, with a strong story that was accented by the familiar voices of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy that not only added quality to the project, but a heavy dose of nostalgia for anyone who grew up with Batman: The Animated Series. Hell, even writer Paul Dini jumped on to help flesh out the story. Asylum made everyone a believer again. There can be a good comic book game, and Batman can make a great setting for games. Though I could gush all day on the mechanics of the series, or the world that is set up in the franchise, what I really want to talk about today is the overarching narrative of the Arkham universe. Specifically the story of Batman and the Joker, because the Arkham games cover this relationship so well.