Funny and interactive story; gorgeous 2D visuals; superb voice acting; clever gadget implementation
Bland boss battles; a few boring levels; no online co-op
The Dark Knight shows off his lighter side in developer WayForward’s Batman: The Brave and The Bold for Wii. Based on a Cartoon Network series, the brawler-like game teams up The Caped Crusader with various partners to tackle lesser-known villains (like Catman and Gentleman Ghost) from the DC Comic empire. Comedy ensues with the mash-ups, thanks to clever writing and sharp dialogue. And this polish carries over to the visuals, sound and game mechanics, creating a Batman title that just falls short of greatness.
The interactive narrative serves as the driving force of the title, with the game split up into four episodes. Each episode presents Batman with a different partner and foe. For example, the first section finds Batman and Robin chasing after a cat burglar, while the last story details Green Lantern’s anger issues. Each tale feels fresh and contains line after line of funny material — all voice-acted by the show’s superb cast. Even better, the two heroes banter between each other while battling droves of enemies, providing great fodder for players. And, most importantly, though the stories and presentation stay true to the cartoon, anyone can follow along and enjoy the humor and plot lines.
The visual style matches the cartoon as well, but it comes to life in video game form thanks to gorgeous 2D sprites from WayForward. The characters bounce with life, as Batman punches and kicks with a nice sense of weight. Robin, conversely, flies across the screen with speed and style, performing cartwheels and acrobatic maneuvers. Most environments showcase tremendous amounts of depth and detail, too, though a few seem rather uninspired. The second episode takes players to Blue Beetle’s secret lair, which contains brown rock after brown rock. Thankfully this is more of a rarity than the norm.
The action plays out straightforwardly, with the gameplay falling under the “brawler” tag. Two people (sadly, no online co-op) may join forces as Batman and friend to punch and kick foes, with gadgets adding a nice wrinkle. Batman comes equipped with his Bat-a-rang and can unlock other doodads, like explosives, through weapon upgrades. The devices broaden the fighting mechanics quite a bit, especially since each hero sports different tools.
And the controls perform well, both in handling the various contraptions and maneuvering The Caped Crusader. Motion input stays at a minimum but is effective in activating powerful attacks. The only gripe about the controls relates to the IR sensor for the Wii Remote. The pointer works well for the most part — especially navigating menus — but acts up a bit when utilizing the Bat-a-rang to target baddies.
Ultimately, though, the main problem with Batman: The Brave and The Bold is the boss battles. Most bosses play out like any of the other lower-level minion bouts, with just a small twist. Gadgets fall to the wayside as players just kick and punch away. There is even an instance where a mid-level boss appears as a titan, too large to fit on-screen. But the villain inexplicably shrinks down for an unexpectedly fair fight. The idea of slowly battling up a gargantuan monster sounds really fun, but sadly never comes to fruition in Batman’s adventure. However, a small nod goes out to the Starro bout in space, which is a memorable highlight.
Overall, Batman: The Brave and The Bold elevates the brawler genre with an interactive, funny story. There are not too many games as clever and humorous as this title, and the 2D visuals pop with style to almost match the comedy. A few things hold back the experience, though — mainly the lackluster bosses and a few bland levels. Regardless, The Dark Knight stills shines in this wonderful Wii adventure.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.