games / Columns

The Top 8 DC Video Games

December 14, 2021 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Batman: Arkham Knight Rocksteady Image Credit: Rocksteady

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about the other side of the comics/video game coin, specifically with DC comics and the games based on them. To say that this was a tad harder to write was an understatement, frankly, most DC games aren’t as good as Marvel games in quality. Marvel also just, generally has more games as well, at least aside from Batman stuff. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Superman Returns (Xbox 360)

I am the first to admit that Superman Returns is NOT a good game. While it does give you most of Superman’s powers, they don’t really feel “right”, though the flying was actually a lot of fun. The reason it’s really on here though is because of the health mechanic. Basically, your health bar was the city of Metropolis, meaning, the more destroyed Metropolis got, the lower your health was. If Metropolis got destroyed it was game over. It was an interesting mechanics because, functionally, Superman is invulnerable, so it at least tried a novel solution of this issue without just saying “All the enemies have Kryptonite bullets!”.

#7: The Adventures of Batman & Robin (SNES)

This is a pretty good beat’em up game that is largely undone by one fatal flaw. The game itself looks great, capturing (for its era) the look of the cartoon, the gadgets that Batman uses, and it has some very impressive sequences, particularly those on the roller coaster. The fatal flat, that I mentioned above, is that the game is extremely hard. Almost unfairly so, actually. It’s not the hardest game on the SNES but Batman himself moves kind of slowly so trying to do combat with that hindrance makes the game even more challenging.

#6: Lego Batman

To me, the Lego games are fairly interchangeable but I do have more memories of playing the first Lego Batman game than some of the others. Actually, my main memory of playing Lego Batman 1 was on an old laptop and it having a fun error where there was a timing-based puzzle where you had to blow something up with a penguin bomb. Only, it was bound to the CPU, so if it was too slow, the bomb wouldn’t make it down the path correctly and you were essentially stuck there. Old PC games were pretty dumb back then, but I still remember the game was fun, even with this annoying issue.

#5: Batman: The Animated Series (Game Boy)

This game was also based on the old Fox Kids Batman cartoon but on the slightly earlier seasons of it. You still played as Batman but a few levels also included Robin as well. Batman had more health and had the grapple gun while Robin had less health but could hang from ceilings and climb around on them. It was also much easier than Batman & Robin, which was better for the Game Boy platform. The thing I really remember about this game was the soundtrack, it still has one of the best soundtracks for a Game Boy game that I’ve heard.

#4: Batman: Arkham Knight

OK, so the actual “Arkham Knight” storyline is supremely dumb. Anyone who has read a Batman comic in the past 20 years knew who the guy was. The Scarecrow stuff was actually kind of cool, but that’s only because John Noble rules and was a great actor to play him. What I really liked about Arkham Knight was the Joker stuff, specifically his blood infecting/corrupting people. It was kind of tossed away but it was a really interesting idea that game should’ve explored more. Aside from the story stuff, the Batmobile was mostly fine, once you fixed the controls for it, and the gameplay was still solid, if getting a bit old at that point.

#3: Injustice: Gods Among Us

So I think Injustice 2 has a slightly better roster, seriously Blue Beetle was a lot of fun to use, but I liked the first Injustice game more. The whole way you customized your characters, or “visited other worlds” (just fight modifiers) really bugged me about this game. Plus, for as big a deal as they made Supergirl seem in Injustice 2, she barely actually factored into the story. With that all said, Injustice 1 is still the better of the two, I think. It had less of the constant busywork that has crept into the last few NetherRalm games, it was still the same great fighting engine they always use and it was just a good package overall.

#2: The Wolf Among Us

You’re probably going, “Huh?” with this pick, but The Wolf Among Us is based on the Fables comic, which was owned by Vertigo, which was owned by DC. So, Fables/Wolf Among Us is actually a DC-based game, and what a game it was. After Telltale exploded after the first Walking Dead they signed a glut of licensed games and started cranking them out as soon as possible. Some were good, the Batman ones and (shockingly) Borderlands, while others were…less good, Guardians of the Galaxy and Game of Thrones come to mind. I’d say the best post-Walking Dead game though was The Wolf Among Us. It had some killer performances, a really involved and interesting story and it had a distinctive personality compared to most of the rest of their games. With Telltale somewhat back, I’ll be curious to see if The Wolf Among Us 2 can reach the highs that this original game did.

#1: Batman: Arkham Asylum

I basically consider Arkham Asylum to be a really good 3D Metroidvania game. You explore the hospital/prison, fight a boss, get a new item and then backtrack through the explored sections to find new secrets to use your fun gadget on, like the explosive gel or Cryptographic Sequencer. In addition to these elements, there are riddles for you to solve, plenty of bad guys to beat up and a ton of Batman secrets for you to explore. Also, this game is still pretty much the gold standard for third-person action combat that is still being used today. I just appreciate the conciseness of this game as well, it wasn’t some sprawling epic, it was very tight and precise which was good.

For comments, list your favorite DC games and why.

Next Issue
Top 8 Games I Didn’t Play This Year