Cover art for Lego Batman: The Videogame
Lego Batman: The Videogame is a Lego-themed action-adventure video game developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, released in 2008 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X video gaming platforms. It is the first Lego Batman video game. The game is based on the comic book character Batman and the Lego Batman toy line, who also handled marketing and financial aspects of the game.
The game is similar to the Lego Star Wars series and Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, in that it is both a game based on a licensed property, and has environments, objects, and creatures made out of Lego. However, Lego Batman is the first to have an original story. The Mac OS X version of the game was released in April 2009 by Feral Interactive. The game spawned two sequels: Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, as well as a spin-off, Lego DC Super-Villains .
The core gameplay of Lego Batman is similar to that of previous Lego video games, such as Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and the Lego Star Wars series. The player controls any one of a wide assortment of characters from a third-person perspective, primarily fighting enemies, solving puzzles, and collecting Lego "studs", the game's form of currency. Using attack combinations in combat will multiply the amount of studs earned. The game is set in Gotham City, with mainly realistic environments. Only interactive objects are made of Lego bricks. Occasionally, players must assemble Lego objects to proceed further in the level, cross obstacles, or unlock new suits. Players are able to fight on land, sea, and in the air, using a number of character-controlled vehicles, including the Batmobile, Batboat, and Batwing. New moves to the series first featured in Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures are featured in this game. New abilities introduced in this game include picking up and carrying enemies and walking on tightropes across buildings. Up to two players can play in co-operative mode.
There are thirty levels in the game (fifteen for the heroes and fifteen for the villains) as well as some secret levels, including Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum. There are many different environments in the game, usually based upon the villains' crime styles, including an ice cream factory, a garden center, the Gotham sewers, and Gotham's seedy underbelly. The game is divided into chapters, each containing five levels. Chapters are divided equally between heroes and villains. Completing a hero chapter will unlock the corresponding chapter for the villains. As in previous Lego video games, levels are unlocked for "Free Play" mode once they are completed in Story Mode. "Free Play" allows the player to replay any level they have completed, but with any characters they have unlocked so far. This permits access to special areas containing additional collectables, where the player was unable to get to before. This is unlike Story mode, in which the player may only switch between the two characters involved in that scene.
The level hub for the heroes, similar to the Mos Eisley cantina in Lego Star Wars and Barnett College in Lego Indiana Jones, is the Batcave, where the player can purchase additional characters and view unlockables. The corresponding hub for the villains is Arkham Asylum, where players can create their own character using parts from characters already unlocked, as well as a limited array of weapons.
Individual characters are able to use many unique abilities related to their comic book powers and talents. For example, the Joker is able to attack enemies and activate machines with a hand buzzer, and the Penguin can glide with his umbrella.
Players are able to swap the costumes of each of the main heroes (Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing) with many differing ones, each containing unique abilities and different color schemes. Batman starts in a classic grey suit, while he and Batgirl can wear the Glide suit that lets Batman/Batgirl fly for a short time, the Sonic suit that can break glass, the Demolition suit that lets Batman/Batgirl set down bombs and detonate them, and the Heat Protection suit that lets Batman/Batgirl survive in extremely hot temperatures). Robin and Nightwing can wear the Technology suit that can activate Tech panels, the Water suit that lets Robin/Nightwing go underwater, the Magnet suit that lets Robin/Nightwing climb up magnetic walls), and the Attract suit that can vacuum up loose Lego pieces and turn them in for bonuses. Devices providing these suits must be built with Lego bricks during Story Mode, but when the player finds those suits, they will be linked to their corresponding characters in "Free Play" mode.
The Hush character can be unlocked after finding all 25 hostages in the villain and hero levels (excluding the Vehicle Levels). Once the game reaches 100%, the Ra's al Ghul character can be purchased and used as a playable character; and the Azrael, Huntress, Black Mask and Spoiler characters can be created in the character creator.
The Nintendo DS version was altered to accommodate the memory and size limitations of the DS as well as include touch screen controls. Characters' special abilities, such as Batman's grappling hook (when pulling background objects) and detonation capsules, and elements such as switches can be controlled by using the touch screen. Some characters' special abilities, attack moves, and jump moves have been changed. For example, Batman can do double-jumps in the DS version, but not in the console versions. Also, when Batman and Robin use a suit switcher pad, they cannot switch back to the previous suit. There are no cinematics, just slideshows featuring comic book-style panels.
The Nintendo DS version also features several more characters not available in the console versions and includes an exclusive unlockable minigame called "Villain Hunt", which is used to unlock 10 of the extra characters: Killer Moth (classic version), Man-Bat, Hugo Strange, Mr. Zsasz, Black Mask, Firefly, the Ventriloquist and Scarface, Ra's al Ghul, Hush, and the Joker (Tropical suit). Some other characters did not make it into the Story Levels, but can be unlocked in different ways than in the console versions. They include: Talia al Ghul, Azrael, Huntress, and Killer Moth (alternate version as depicted from the Teen Titans TV series).
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A mobile phone version of the game was also released. However, this plays much more like a straightforward platformer with scrolling beat 'em up elements, removing key gameplay features such as the ability to switch between characters with different abilities. The game is single-player only and players can only play as Batman.
Lego Batman: The Videogame is notable for being the first Traveller's Tales Lego game to have an original plot. Unlike previous Traveller's Tales Lego video games, it is based more on the concept of a franchise, rather than following the plot of a particular movie or other story from it. The game features Batman and Robin fighting crime and villainy in Gotham City. Batman's most dangerous foes have all escaped from Arkham Asylum and divided themselves into three groups of five, each led by a "clever" and well-known villain with plans to achieve a personal goal:
- Riddler is after the city savings in the Gotham Gold Reserves. He is aided by Clayface, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Two-Face.
- Penguin plans to seize control of Gotham using remote-controlled penguin robots. He is aided by Bane, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, and Catwoman.
- Joker intends to blow up the cathedral with explosives and spread his deadly laughing gas across Gotham. He is aided by Harley Quinn, The Scarecrow, The Mad Hatter, and Killer Moth.
Each group is accompanied by hundreds of thugs and small timers who murder and steal under their orders. Each group member also has a specific set of goons that are tailored to their crimes.
The villain missions mainly show how the villains set up their plans while evading the police led by commissioner Gordon, while the heroes show the fates and outcome of the villains and their sadistic plots. The general pattern in each story is that the leaders often leave their associates at the hands of Batman or the police once their use is over. Eventually, Batman & Robin disrupt all their plans and send all the villains back to Arkham. The Riddler and Two-Face are captured due to the clues Riddler leaves behind, The Penguin's and Catwoman's robots and equipment are destroyed and the diamond they stole to power it is recovered, and The Joker and Harley Quinn fail to detonate the bombs, saving the city. The last scenes show most of the villains being oddly content to be back in Arkham except for The Joker, Penguin, and Riddler as their plans have failed.
The villain stories and pairings are likely references to the Burton and Schumacher Batman films. Riddler's group consisted of the villains from Schumacher's films (barring Clayface), Penguin's mission involving remote controlled penguins and teaming up with Catwoman are an homage to Batman Returns, and the climax of Joker's missions take place in a cathedral similar to the original Batman film.
Batman and Robin fly across the city once more, making sure the city of Gotham is safe. After collecting all the true hero stud meters the player can play two exclusive 1,000,000 stud levels entitled Wayne manor for heroes and Arkham Asylum for villains. These levels automatically are set to free play.
Development and release
An early build for the PlayStation 2 console was shown at certain conferences (such as at Game On in London) by TT Games Publishing's Head of Production Jonathan Smith, with a small playable area featuring the same HUD as Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. DC Comics had an input into the game, providing the developers with reference materials for the game's characters.
Characters's vocal effects were provided by Steve Blum (as Batman, Joker, Killer Moth, Killer Croc and Two-Face), James Arnold Taylor (as Robin and Nightwing), Tom Kenny (as Riddler and Penguin), Fred Tatasciore (as Bane and Hush), Grey DeLisle (as Harley Quinn and Batgirl), Dave Wittenberg (as Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul), Ogie Banks (as Mr. Freeze and Clayface), Vanessa Marshall (as Poison Ivy and Catwoman) with Chris Edgerly (as Mad Hatter and Man-Bat) and Keith Ferguson (as Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon). Collette Sunderman voice directs this game.
Lego Batman received generally favorable reviews from critics upon release. IGN gave the game a 7.7 for the Wii, PS2, PS3 and 360, and a 7.3 for PSP stating that while the game has plenty of replay value, it also retains problematic elements from the previous games in the series and does not necessarily add anything new. The DS version received an 8.0 rating. GamesRadar gave it an 8 out of 10, noting that Traveller's Tales was able to be more open with the license than previous games. In a review for PC Gamer, John Walker noted that the large number of locations in Gotham as a "welcome improvement" over Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. Combat is styled in the manner of the 1960s Batman series, and the game includes clever puzzles. The drawbacks mentioned include the fixed viewing perspective and the frequent respawning of opponents. "Iconic characters, such as Clayface and Robin, have been turned into village idiots," writes Ben of Game Informer who nevertheless later adds, "this game is filled with cool playable characters… Nightwing, Harley Quinn, Joker, Killer Croc, Bane, Catwoman, and Man-Bat only scratch the surface of the game's catalog of great characters." The Nintendo DS version was nominated for "Best Action Game of 2008 on the DS" by IGN. As of August 2010, the game has sold over 7 million copies worldwide. As of May 2012, the game has sold over 11 million copies worldwide.
A sequel, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, was announced by Warner Bros to be in development by Traveller's Tales. Released in June 2012, the game's characters are inspired by the Lego DC Super Heroes set.
A Super-Villain themed spin-off, Lego DC Super-Villains was announced for a Fall 2018 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the original game's release.
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