Batman: Arkham Asylum

Well, Batman, looks like you’ve captured your brilliant mad arch-nemesis the Joker again. Where you gonna put him? Arkham Asylum? Hope he doesn’t break out and cause any havoc. I mean, he broke out all those other times, but surely he won’t—oh wait he’s out. And it looks like he’s freeing all your other worst enemies too.

If I was Batman I’d build a bat-prison in the bat-cave and put the Joker there. Or maybe a bat-prison on the bat-moon. Just a metal bat-box with some bat-oxygen in it and a year’s supply of bat-treats.

I’ll tell you where I wouldn’t put him- a crumbly old building he broke out of a million times before.

Batman is super ripped and bulky in this game. I thought Batman kept himself lean in spite of his muscular frame- so he could skulk around in the dark and detect stuff. Seems like with these giant power muscles he’d struggle a little bit to even turn his head.

The character design for this game is all about muscles. Muscles and naked ladies, that is— Harley Quinn is dressed like a clown pin up girl and Poison Ivy didn’t even bother putting on pants for this whole Batman killing party. She couldn’t have made a mini dress out of leaves or something?

Seriously, though—everybody Batman punches in the face has an amazing physique. Lot of people sporting no shirts, too. Cause that’s how I’d prefer to fight Gotham City’s most determined crime fighter. With the exposed skin of my torso and endless optimism. (To be fair, Batman called shirts.)

When you get knocked out in ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum’, a cut-scene comes up in which one of the game’s bad guys gloats at Batman’s soon-to-be corpse, stuff like ‘nice try Batman, time to DIE!’. In one of them, the Joker walks up and says dismissively, “Someone finish him off” and walks away.

Wait- what? You’re the Joker- you and Batman have been fighting one of the most epic battles in the history of pop culture rivalries and you have him bleeding and helpless in front of you. So here’s your chance to do some CRAZY MURDER to Batman, and you hand it off to some henchman you just hired the other day in a gym bathroom?

Which brings me to the final boss battle aka a spoiler: Why would the Joker inject himself with toxins that make him a big muscle freak? He doesn’t like brute force combat, he’s more of a ‘slice a smile in your face with a skinny knife’ kind of maniac. He’s also vain- why would he take anything that would mutilate his body to that extent? His ribs were bursting through his chest- he’d seen it have that effect on other people.

Not to mention the fact that he had Batman’s oldest and dearest friend Commissioner Gordon as a hostage. Here’s an idea: inject Gordon with the toxin and make Batman fight him.

What’s going to really get Batman where it hurts- fighting a bigger meatier Joker at the end of a long line of fighting big meaty dudes or shedding little bat tears in his cowl as he has to fight for his life against a twisted version of his best pal Commissioner Gordon? How cool would that be as a feature in a game? ‘Press X to keep from crying into your superhero mask.’

Speaking of crying, I’m sorry I said all those critical things about you, Batman video game. The fight mechanics and the parts of the story that involve the other villains are amazing.  The Scarecrow making Batman hallucinate all of Bruce Wayne’s deepest anxieties made manifest into a playable level; or Batman just hanging out on a gargoyle waiting to swoop down on some dumb bare chested dummy with a machine gun- I have to give credit where credit’s due. This game is well crafted.

I guess it’s just that if you want to tell me The Joker’s crazy, you need to make me think he’s crazy. In this game he just wants to be strong.

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