Putting The Pieces Together – Andy B takes on Lego Batman

I’ve always been a gamer, but I’m not sure what sort I’d be considered. I’m really not up on gamer lingo (I leave that for Geflon Don), but if I had to come up with some sort of definition, I’d choose casual gamer with a short attention span. You see, I love the idea of playing video games, especially ones featuring licensed characters (truth be told, I haven’t missed a WWE video game since 1999; whether I’ve played them much is another matter). I love the idea of taking control of familiar characters; I think it just brings them that much closer to life. But I don’t have the attention span to spend a whole lot of time combing through storylines and multiple endings and the whole shebang. That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the onslaught of rythmn based games over the last few years. Instant gratification while playing rock and roll. That being said, there’s a new series of games that have hit the shelves that manage to keep me involved, entertained, and don’t use up too much of my brain power.

Licensed Lego video games. Brilliant.

Basically, the Lego series of games (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman) take the familiar characters and, in the case of Indy and Star Wars, familiar storylines, and transfer them to the world of Lego, adding in a dose of humour and inoffensive violence. They are some of the most entertaining gaming adventures I’ve encountered. Familiar settings and characters, drenched in fun, and simple to play. Especially in the case of the Batman, who’s been the victim of some pretty poor games over the years (Batman Forever and The Adventures of Batman and Robin for Sega Genesis are two that stick in my mind as particularly offensive). Amazingly, Lego Batman’s cheeky fun and the lack of seriousness typically reserved for The Dark Knight has created what I’d consider to be the most effective Caped Crusader…er…crusade ever committed to a console.

The storyline is simple – Batman’s rogues gallery has escaped from Arkham Asylum and it’s up to Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder to track them all down. Now just imagine it all as Lego pieces and you’ve got the gist of the game. The story is simple and the controls are easy for novice gamers to pick up and play. The graphics on the Xbox 360 version are vivid, even if the game is occasionally too dark (you might find yourself hitting the brightness levels more than usual playing Lego Batman).

What I like most about Lego Batman as I continue to play through is that while the game is obviously devoted to the Batman mythos, I find myself accepting and actually enjoying deviations from the character. Case in point – there are a variety of “suits” that Batman and Robin must utilize to complete each level. Things like “gliding suits” and “technology suits”, accessories which you just would never find in either a comic book or the classic animated series of the 90’s. Typically, I find these sorts of non-canon costumes ridiculous (and don’t get me started on the abundance of action figures that do the same thing – Iceberg Lettuce Batman and Rocket Launcher Robin; give me a break), but in the context of Lego Batman, the asinine becomes entertaining and adds to the entire experience.

Lego Batman is an amalgamation of two beloved interpretations of The Dark Knight – while the characters and vehicles are all made up on Lego, the stylistic inspiration is clearly the classic 90’s Batman: The Animated Series, which for many of us is the “defining” non-comic depiction of Bruce Wayne’s tortured psyche. The game’s music comes courtesy of Danny Elfman’s work from 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns which, in turn, is often regarded as the quintessential Dark Knight soundtrack. Add in gameplay that has the camp of the 60’s series and you’ve got what I’d say is the greatest game to carry the Batman name.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go save Gotham City.

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