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Batman: A history of video games

The complete guide to the Caped Crusader's video game adventures

The recent announcement of Batman: Arkham Origins marks the latest in a long line of Batman games stretching back more than 25 years.

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With that mind we present to you the ultimate guide to Batman's video game history - the occasional highs, the numerous lows and what the future holds for the Caped Crusader.

Have fond memories for any of the Dark Knight's gaming outings? Let us know in the comments below.


The Early Days: Spectrum, Atari and beyond

Batman (1986)

Formats:
ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX
Publisher:
Ocean
Developer:
Bernie Drummond, Jon Ritman
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
None

Regarded by Spectrum aficionados as one of the finest games released on the system, the first ever Batman game was an isometric adventure in which Batman had to save Robin by collecting the seven parts of Batman's hovercraft scattered throughout the Batcave. We gave it 10/10 in CVG issue 55. An unofficial PC remake was released a couple of years ago.

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Batman: The Caped Crusader (1988)

Formats:
Amiga, Atari ST, PC, ZX Spectrum, C64, Amstrad CPC, Apple II
Publisher:
Ocean
Developer:
Special FX Software
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
The Penguin, The Joker

This clever platformer split each of the game's screens into different comic book panels, which stacked on top of each other as you progressed. There were two separate adventures that could be played in any order - one to defeat the Penguin, and the other to beat the Joker. We gave the Spectrum version 89% and the C64 version 74% back in CVG issue 88.

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Batman (1989)

Formats:
NES
Publisher:
Sunsoft
Developer:
Sunsoft
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
The Joker

Despite having the same cover as the movie poster, the Batman game on NES wasn't too closely linked to the plot of the film other than the fact that the final battle was against the Joker in a belltower. It felt a lot like the original Ninja Gaiden in that Batman had a wall-jump move, and it was widely regarded as a great tie-in.

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Batman (1989)

Formats:
Game Boy
Publisher:
Sunsoft
Developer:
Sunsoft
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
The Joker

The Game Boy version followed the plot of the movie more closely, with stages based on locations from the film such as the Axis Chemical Plant and the Flugelheim Museum. What it lacked in visual oomph (the sprites were tiny) it more than made up for with great gameplay. We still reckon it's one of the best Batman games ever.

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Batman: The Movie (1989)

Formats:
Amiga, Atari ST, PC, C64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, ZX Spectrum
Publisher:
Ocean
Developer:
Ocean
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
The Joker

Based on the film of the same name (obviously), this was a five-stage adventure made up of side-scrolling platform sections, Batmobile racing sections and Batwing flying sections. It was so popular Commodore started bundling the Amiga version with its Amiga 500 computers. We gave it 92% in CVG issue 95.

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Batman (1990)

Formats:
Arcade
Publisher:
Atari
Developer:
Numega
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
The Joker

The first arcade game based on the Caped Crusader was also based on the film. It was a side-scroller with five stages and featured real music and sound samples from the game (including the Joker's classic: "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"). Though it was surprisingly short (even by arcade standards), it was a common fixture in most arcades in the early '90s.

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Batman (1990)

Formats:
PC Engine
Publisher:
Sunsoft
Developer:
Sunsoft
Heroes:
Batman
Villains:
The Joker

Released only in Japan, the PC Engine version of Batman differed greatly from the others in that it was a top-down maze game more like Pac-Man rather than a side-scrolling action platformer. In it, Batman had to make his way through various mazes collecting canisters of Smilex while attacking the Joker's goons with Batarangs.

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