Batman’s legacy in video gaming is a long one, starting with his first appearance on the gaming computers of the 1980s to his upcoming role in Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight, which debuts on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and personal computer later this year. Batman’s tenure in gaming is not just limited to the home market, however. The Dark Knight has starred in a few arcade games over the years, a history we’ll look at today.
Batman (Atari, 1990)
Based on the 1989 Tim Burton film of the same name, Atari’s Batman is a single-player side-scrolling brawler that pits the Dark Knight against arch-criminal Joker and his henchman in Gotham City. The game features several levels based on locales from the film, such as the Axis Chemicals factory and Flugelheim Museum. Batman fights enemies with punches, kicks, and gadgets like his Batarangs (his signature boomerang-like projectiles) and gas grenades. During certain levels, Batman can drive the Batmobile or fly the Batwing.
The game’s story, told through a series of cutscenes, consist of stills and audio from the from the film. Audio clips from the film (mainly quotes from either Batman or Joker) also play at times during gameplay.
This is a game I really didn’t know existed until a few days ago. If you’d like to see some gameplay footage, check out YouTube user Nz0x’s video below. Picture comes from arcade-museum.com.
Batman (Data East, 1991)
This is primarily a video game blog, but since we’re focusing on the arcade it’s only right to include other types of games on this list. Batman is a Data East pinball machine based on Tim Burton’s 1989 film. The game features sounds, music and art inspired by the film, with painted portraits of the movie’s stars found on the machine.
Batman was a favorite of mine as a kid, and I played it often at the Chuck E. Cheese in Melrose Park. The sounds and the music of the game captivated and excited me, motivating my play throughout every turn. It’s not the most fully featured pinball machine, but it does have a Batcave, Flugelheim Museum and a Joker ramp. The Joker ramp, found at the top left of the machine’s table, was a picture of the villain’s face with holes cut out in place of his eyes and mouth. If the ball lands in of those holes, it activates a taunt shown on the screen found at the base of the game’s backbox (the large square box at the top of the machine, as seen in the above picture).
Here’s a video of the game in action, uploaded by YouTube user lettucekl. Picture comes from fungus-amugus.com.
Batman Forever (Sega, 1995)
One of the many pinball machines released by Sega throughout the 1990s, Batman Forever is based on the Joel Schumacher film of the same name.
Batman Forever tables featured the color themes of the movie, as well as portraits of the film’s stars on the game table and the game’s outer shell. It has more features than its aforementioned Data East predecessor, among them six flippers, multiball, a Batwing cannon (which fires pinballs), and play for up to six players.
This is yet another arcade game I scarcely remember seeing as youth, but from what I’ve seen of it on it the interwebs, it looks like a cool machine. For footage of the game, check out the video by YouTube user tattyadams. Picture comes from ipdb.org.
Batman Forever: The Arcade Game (Acclaim, 1996)
Acclaim had a checkered history with the Batman franchise. In 1995, the company released Batman Forever, a beat-em-up action game for the home consoles of the time. The game was a disaster, criticized for its bland action and poor controls.The next year Acclaim released Batman Forever: The Arcade Game in the arcades.
Similar to its console cousin, BF:TAG is a beat-em-up for one or two players. As either Batman or Robin, players must battling supervillains Two-Face and Riddler and their army of thugs.
The game eventually appeared on the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn and personal computer. The console versions of the game are actually quite rare and very expensive to purchase brand new. For gameplay of the Sega Saturn port of this title, watch YouTube user RaSanBR’s video, provided below. Picture comes from gamespot.com.
Batman (Stern, 2008)
This 2008 pinball machine by Stern combines elements from the two Christopher Nolan directed Batman films at the time– 2005’s Batman Begins and 2008’s The Dark Knight— into one game. The artwork features portraits of the stars from both of the films, though the overall theme comes from The Dark Knight.
This machine contains several unique traits, including a crane which holds an extra ball, figurines of the Joker, Scarecrow and Batman, a toy Batmobile and a mini playfield at the top of the game table just to name a few. The game features a variety of audio clips inspired by the films, including a version of the theme by the films’ composer Hans Zimmer.
Batman was in the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association’s (PAPA) 2012 tournament. Below is some footage of the game being played during the qualifying round of that PAPA tournament, uploaded by YouTube user CGR Pinball. Picture comes from pinballnews.com.
Batman (Specular Interactive & Raw Thrills, 2013)
The latest Batman-themed arcade release, Specular Interactive and Raw Thrills’ Batman focuses exclusively on the Dark Knight’s greatest gadget: the Batmobile! An open world action racer for one or two players, Batman tasks the Caped Crusader with fighting three supervillains– Bane, Joker and Mr. Freeze– on the roads of Gotham City.
Players have their choice of 11 different Batmoniles, ranging from the Cadillac-based car of the 1966 TV series to the Tumbler of the Nolan films. Each Batmobile has an array of weapons, including missiles, machine guns and large Batarangs.
I haven’t seen this game in person yet, but I’d love to try one in the future. A game about the Batmobile just sounds like a fun time. Posted below is a YouTube video of the game, uploaded by its developers Specular Interactive. For further information on the game and its creators, do read this article from Complex. Picture comes from videoamusement.com.
That does it for this segment. There are only a few days left in April, so I’ll try to get as many posts up on Batman games as I can. Until next time.
Peace & Pixels