Team Up With Your Favorite DC Superheroes in Wii's Batman: The Brave and the Bold
With the release of Christopher Nolan's final film in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, just a few days away, I thought I would take this time to provide a review of something that involves a different kind of Batman--namely, the Batman: The Brave and the Bold video game for the Wii, a game that's based on the animated series of the same name.
I loved Brave and the Bold when it ran on Cartoon Network, so I really enjoyed how the game successfully imitates the look and feel of the show. However, because this game is a two-dimensional side-scrolling platformer, it will most likely disappoint Batman fans who are looking for another gaming experience along the lines of Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Read on for my complete review.
Brave and the Bold plays like four lost episodes of the TV show. The voice talent, writing, animation style and background music are exactly the same as the cartoon. Each episode involves Batman (voiced by Diedrich Bader) teaming up with another DC superhero, and each episode begins with a mini-adventure before the opening credits roll. The game adds to the team up concept by allowing two players to play cooperatively, and each player can earn points to upgrade the weapons and abilities of his respective character. Bat-Mite (Paul Reubens) appears to offer tips throughout the game and after you complete the four episodes, you'll unlock a bonus level that takes place in Bat-Mite's own Batman-centric, comic-book-shop-like world.
A lot of care went into the making of the game, so it's a few steps above most other franchise tie-in games that are little more than poorly-made merchandising opportunities. Each episode in the game is fun in its own right, and the heroes' witty banter both with the villains and between each other keeps the game's energy going even when the gameplay gets somewhat repetitive. Even though Batman teams up with only four superheroes in the game (Robin, Blue Beetle, Hawkman and Guy Gardner, in that order), the game allows you to briefly call in a third superhero of your own choosing to provide extra support for times when you are ambushed by villains. As DC-based video game titles go, Brave and the Bold includes an impressive selection of DC superheroes and villains.
As far as the episodes go, the most interesting team up happens between Batman and Hawkman (voiced by William Katt, who is best known for his work on The Greatest American Hero TV series). This episode depicts Hawkman as a predecessor to Batman, and much of their conversation articulates how being a superhero has changed from one generation to the next. Since the Brave and the Bold cartoon was produced as a tribute of sorts to the Silver Age of DC Comics, this part of the game is like listening to a conversation between a Silver Age Batman and a Golden Age Hawkman--a real treat for superhero fans who know their comic book history.
Where Brave and the Bold stumbles the hardest is its use of the 2D side-scrolling platform format. While this format allows the game to flawlessly adhere the animation style of the cartoon, it lacks the depth and challenge of its 3D counterparts. As a result, most of the game involves dispatching wave after wave of henchmen, which can get predictable and tedious at times. The 2D format also limits what you can do with some of the playable superhero characters. Batman's gadgets are always fun to use in both 2D and 3D and the game's programmers were able to use the Wiimote to inject some distinct features into Guy Gardner's abilities during the Green Lantern episode. On the other hand, Robin's abilities are almost the same as Batman's and the game's flat style severely curtails the abilities of Blue Beetle and Hawkman, which makes them less interesting as game characters than they should be.
Ultimately, Batman: The Brave and the Bold was designed for fans of all ages of the cartoon and for adult superhero fans who are looking for a game that they can play with their kids--for those two groups, this game is a solid success. Anyone else who is looking for something more than that is strongly encourage to look elsewhere.