Batman: The Brave and the Bold Review

By Matt Cabral - Posted Sep 16, 2010

Complemented by hilariously sharp writing and an engaging cartoon visual style, Batman: The Brave and the Bold - The Videogame isn't especially challenging, but it is as charming as a tuxedoed Bruce Wayne.

The Pros
  • Fantastic, genuinely funny writing
  • Visuals match the Cartoon Network series
  • Fast, fun combat
The Cons
  • Not challenging enough for more seasoned gamers
  • Campaign is a bit short

Bruce Wayne’s butt-kicking alter ego trades his brooding Arkham Asylum persona for a decidedly lighter side in Batman: The Brave and the Bold - The Videogame, a title based on the same-named campy Cartoon Network series. A side-scrolling beat-’em-up that should feel instantly familiar to anyone who lined tokens along 80’s arcade cabinet marquees, this Bat-brawler offers thumb-numbing fun and a polished presentation.

Funny Crime Fighting

In fact, its bad guy-beating gameplay actually takes a backseat to its sharp writing and vibrant visuals. An effective mix of 2D foregrounds and 3D backdrops support a beautifully hand-drawn art style; you’ll hardly be able to distinguish the game from its Saturday morning cartoon counterpart. Detail-drenched characters, that animate smoothly, and pop-off-the-screen cut-scenes further enhance the comic book appeal. A few in-game segments, featuring a black-silhouetted Batman taking on similarly shadowed henchmen, highlight the easy-on-eyes graphics.



Even cooler than the pretty visuals, though, is The Brave and Bold’s writing. More in line with the Adam West-starring 60’s series than Christopher Nolan’s deadly serious adaptations, this one’s overflowing with intentionally hilarious dialogue. It’s genuinely funny to hear Batman and Robin bicker while simultaneously beating up bad guys. The Boy Wonder’s endless barrage of clueless questions and too-obvious observations are met by the Dark Knight’s deadpan replies, eliciting consistent chuckles and more than a few laugh-out-loud moments; my funny bone was engaged nearly as much as my button-mashing thumbs during my first play-through.

In addition to the voiced jokes flying as fast as the fists, The Brave and Bold’s story is a hoot. You’ll find Bat’s and his crime-fighting friends in a variety of bizarre scenarios that seem more like a fit for Scooby Doo than DC’s iconic superheroes. Right off the, er, bat, you’ll find the dynamic duo running from a giant ball of yarn just before being transformed into housecats; their four-legged, furry counterparts even sport masks and capes. Of course, anyone who watches the equally twisted animated TV series will feel right at home in this wacky world.

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Beat Up Bad Guys

On top of a utility belt full of laughs and a slick presentation, The Brave and the Bold provides some solid brawling. Moves go beyond the usual light and heavy attacks, allowing players to pull off all kinds of jumps, kicks, blocks, throws, grapples, and specialty moves. Whether playing as the Bat or one of his four playable partners--Robin, Blue Beetle, Hawkman, Guy Gardner--you’ll find no shortage of stylish ways to best baddies. While most of the game’s challenges can be handled with a foot or fist to the face, these day-saving protagonists are also outfitted with a variety of gadgets. From Batman’s Batarangs to Blue Beetle’s Bomb Cannon, there’s a handful of toys available to each character. These items can also be upgraded by investing coins you collect throughout your journey. When not using a gadget or your own brute strength, you can  call in “jump-in” characters, one of several superheroes, like Plastic Man or Red Tornado, from DC’s stable of lesser known crime-fighters. A tap of the Wii-Mote’s 1 button--once you’ve filled a designated meter--summons one of these “jump-in” heroes, who’s usually packing a one-liner and screen-clearing attack.

The Brave and the Bold’s controls are straightforward and, thankfully, light on tacked-on Wii-mote-waggling. And the few instances where you are called upon to flail your arms, like when pulling off extra powerful attacks or painting Batarang targets, are integrated pretty well. The lack of classic controller support is a disappointment, but the default Nunchuck and Wii-Mote option generally gets the job done. If you’ve got an extra controller set-up, feel free to pass it to a friend, as this arcadey brawlee also supports offline drop-in/drop-out co-op. Working as a crime-fighting team puts one player under Batman’s cape and cowl, while allowing the second to don the spandex of one of the other four aforementioned heroes. When playing solo your partner’s AI isn’t exactly spot-on, so teaming with a real-life buddy is encouraged. It’s also a great option for those who want to play with a young sibling, offspring, or other inexperienced superhero-wannabe.



Pow! Bang! Other Fighting Noises!

Despite sporting the sort of presentation that would please any proud Comic-Con attendee, The Brave and the Bold is ultimately targeted at the tykes. So, the less-than-steep challenge and short campaign may not fly with older comic book geeks. That said, as a licensed kid-friendly title, it kicks the competition in the codpiece. Additionally, its brimming fan-service and adult-aimed humor will make it a camp-tastic ride for most aging Bat-fans.