There are literally dozens of games featuring Batman out there, ever since 1986 when the first Batman game was released. The Caped Crusader has had a tumultuous relationship with video game consoles over the years, with many ups and downs. Most recently, the Arkham series has been full of huge wins—Batman in those games is awesome, stylized, with great abilities, and set in amazing worlds.
But that wasn’t always the case. In the early 2000s, there were a string of Batman games released (and games featuring Batman that weren’t specifically focused on him) that even Bruce Wayne couldn’t save. There’s a game for practically every Batman movie that’s ever come out, but not all of them have been winners (they usually follow the films in this regard).
The Batman license is one of the most valuable gaming commodities in the world, so it would be nice for every Batman game from here on out to be amazing. We’ve had enough games that were ruined simply because they featured the Caped Crusader.
Here are 10 games Batman ruined, and 10 he saved.
20 Ruined: Justice League Task Force (1995)
Batman appears in this fighting game that never really had a chance. As the title suggests, there are numerous Justice League characters to choose from, but Batman is not a great option. The plot of the game is the Justice League trying to take down Darkseid, but it was unfortunately ruined by poor graphics and glitchy gameplay. The control system was hard to master, too. It definitely is no Street Fighter or Tekken.
19 Saved: DC Universe Online (2011)
This game is awesome because of the customizability of the characters. It’s not specifically a Batman title, but you have the ability to create your own version of the Caped Crusader, which is pretty sweet. You can give your Bat super speed like The Flash, or the ability to fly like Superman. This is one of the most successful online games for PlayStation of all time, with 18 million players, and Batman only makes it even better.
18 Ruined: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
This game’s release coincided with the release of the animated film of the same name, but they probably should have spent more time in development for this one. You can choose between four different Batman costumes, each with their own special abilities, but Batman was not enough to save this one. It’s a not very entertaining beat 'em up reminiscent of Double Dragon or Battletoads, and it’s made worse by repetitive gameplay and bad graphics.
17 Saved: Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)
Considered one of the best Batman games of all time, Arkham Asylum was the first game in the Arkham series. Batman was revitalized in this game with a fresh script written by Batman veteran Paul Dini. Players get to roam freely around the asylum while battling Batman’s biggest foes, all while trying to undermine The Joker’s plot to blow up Gotham. There are great action and stealth elements, a great story, terrific graphics and gameplay, and top-tier voice actors (like Mark Hamill as The Joker).
16 Ruined: Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988)
Back when video games were just getting started, Batman starred in this action-adventure release. The cool part about the game was that each level was featured as a panel in a comic book, but that schtick lost its luster pretty quickly. You spend most of the time solving puzzles and escaping mazes, which means Batman isn’t given his tools or fighting prowess to work with. The lack of action made the game a bore and made Batman a pretty useless character.
15 Saved: Lego Batman: The Video Game (2008)
The Lego franchise has always done well with their superhero movies and their tie-in video games. Lego Batman had just as much success as Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones, both of which were great games. The plot is original and unique, featuring many Batman cameos and regulars, and the highlight of the game is Batman’s ability to smash Lego blocks to create crazy contraptions and gadgets. The puzzles are also new and challenging, making this a fun excursion.
14 Ruined: Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003)
This game had potential, but it just didn’t make the cut. It was the first game to feature Sin Tzu as the enemy, after seeing him in the animated series, The New Adventures of Batman. Sin Tzu definitely drew more popularity than Batman, but after the game’s failure, he was basically stricken from the record. The multiplayer option wasn’t even that great, and critics railed this one. It had shoddy graphics, repetitive gameplay, and only used low-tier villains like Scarecrow, Clayface, and Bane.
13 Saved: Batman: The Movie (1989)
This game is awesome because it ties in with the Tim Burton film, which is arguably one of the best Batman films. So it would be hard for the Caped Crusader to screw this one up. The game consists of five stages based on scenes from the live-action film, which each level vastly different than the last. We have a scrolling platform, a driving level using the Batmobile, a puzzle level, a Batwing level, and the final level is a platform level. Batman has plenty of gadgets and makes this one fun.
12 Ruined: Batman Returns (1992)
The follow-up to the 1989 Batman game was not nearly as stellar as the first. The sophomore attempt failed where so many sophomore games do: it wasn’t enticing or different enough. It’s a beat 'em up with decent gameplay and graphics, but it was littered with bugs and horrible controls in the Amiga version, which made the game nearly unplayable.
11 Saved: Batman Begins (2005)
Perhaps one of the best tie-in Batman video games, this one is based off the Christopher Nolan film of the same name. With the film having a comic-like vibe to it, it makes sense that it would translate well to video game form. Batman gets to navigate the streets of Gotham, fight thugs, incorporate stealth and attack people from the shadows, and you can even use the environment like in Spider-Man games. It has a reminiscence of Splinter Cell, another amazing series.
10 Ruined: Batman Forever (1995)
Batman Forever was not a great movie, and the game of the same name suffered the same fate. You can choose to play Robin or Batman here, but both options are terrible as the gameplay sucks. The characters look cheesy, the motion-capture system is wonky, and the control system is almost impossible to master. The game also suffers from repetitiveness, as each level looks dark and similar to the last one you played. This game is one of the worst in the Batman lineup.
9 Saved: Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Batman: Arkham City is the followup to Arkham Asylum, and it’s a great game just like its predecessor. There are improvements from the previous game, and you’re free to roam around Gotham (you’re not stuck in the Asylum anymore), which gives Batman a lot of room to breathe. The character can glide through the air, and there’s even a subplot where you can control Catwoman. This is definitely a memorable addition to the Batman video game repertoire!
8 Ruined: Batman: Dark Tomorrow (2003)
2003 was not a great year for Batman games, as you had the Rise of Sin Tzu and then Dark Tomorrow in back-to-back failures. This free-roaming action-adventure game had subpar action with an emphasis on stealth, but it was certainly no Metal Gear Solid. The controls were rough, the camera angles sucked, the gameplay was repetitive, and the sound was terrible. There are also different endings depending on what you do, but Batman couldn’t save any of them from being a disaster.
7 Saved: Batman: Arkham Origins (2013)
The third game in the Arkham series is another improvement from the last two, and equally as awesome. It’s set five years before Asylum and involves the crime lord Black Mask putting a bounty on the Dark Knight. You have to defeat eight villains (including The Joker and Bane), who are looking to take out the Bat-Man on Christmas Eve. But none of them can do it, because Batman is just too epic to be defeated. It comes with a great story and memorable side quests.
6 Ruined: Batman: Toxic Chill/Justice Imbalanced (2003)
As we’ve mentioned already, 2003 was a bad year for Batman games. All three games released during this period sucked. Toxic Chill and Unbalanced were educational games with iffy graphics and stupid puzzles/logic solving problems. It’s intended for kids aged 7-10, and there’s really not much to this game if you’re over those ages. You’ll beat this game in a couple of hours and wonder why you wasted your time on it at all.
5 Saved: Injustice: God’s Among Us (2013)
Ten years after 2003, Batman games really picked up the pace. The same year Arkham Origins came out, we also had Injustice, which was an exciting fighting game in the mold of Mortal Kombat (they even teamed up with MK co-creator Ed Boon, so you knew this one was in good hands). Batman was an awesome character in this one, with sweet moves and specials, and you could also pick various Justice Leaguers (Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, etc.).
4 Ruined: Batman: The Brave And The Bold (2010)
When you had games like the Arkham series coming out around the same time as this, you have to scratch your head and wonder what the Batman people were thinking. It was a regression of graphics, of gameplay, of story—of everything. This side-scrolling beat 'em up for the Wii and Nintendo DS had levels structured like animated episodes, but the game was lacking in pretty much all respects. It’s short and repetitive, and probably best left alone.
3 Saved: Batman: Arkham Knight (2015)
The most recent Arkham game continues the great run of challenging third-person action games featuring Batman. It has the biggest open world to explore yet, comes with a well-scripted plot with multiple twists, and has insanely good graphics. The combat system and puzzles are even improved. The very next year, Arkham VR was released, so you could continue the fight as Bruce Wayne and Batman in virtual reality, taking things to the next level!
2 Ruined: Batman & Robin (1997)
Neither Batman nor Robin could save this game, which had a similar fate as the movie of the same name. This terrible beat 'em up had bad graphics and unreliable controls, and the 3D world was not very well realized. The one saving grace was you could play Batgirl, who was cooler than either of the title characters, but even she couldn’t save this one.
1 Saved: Batman: The Telltale Series (2016)
This detailed adventure game has one of the best plots of any Batman game ever, so it’s definitely worth playing. There are five “episodes” which feature a vast array of Batman villains and popular characters. This one is also targeted toward a mature audience, which is a nice change of pace from, say, an aged 7-10 educational game. You can also control Bruce Wayne (not as Batman), which is new and fresh. The interactive feel to the game makes you feel like you’re reading a comic, and the graphics are amazing.
References: pcgamer.com, comicbook.com, greenmangaming.com