Batman: The Brave and the Bold for the Wii is a charming game. The graphics, the voice acting, and the gameplay elements all tie together to make you really feel as if you are playing an episode of the cartoon. There are a few areas in which Batman: The Brave and the Bold falls short, but these are easily overlooked by the game’s light-hearted appeal to gamers young and old alike.
Batman has been many things through the years, from a tongue-in-cheek pop-culture icon to a grim, gritty, “Dark Knight”. In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the caped crusader has far more in common with his 60s TV self than Christian Bale’s depiction. Batman’s costume is bright blue, his chest symbol proudly yellow, and his jaw is so square you could use it for a protractor. There’s a Silver Age feel to the game, with all manner of obscure heroes and villains teaming up with Batman in wacky situations, from the ghostly underworld to outer space.
Like the graphical style, the gameplay feels very retro, too. Batman: The Brave and the Bold has more in common with vintage brawlers like Double Dragon than it does modern games such as Arkham Asylum. The world’s greatest detective and his partners fight their way through a series of side-scrolling levels, punching, kicking, and throwing their way to victory. There are many different types of attacks, like mid-air combos, and holds that let you knee the bad guys until they fall, but good old-fashioned button mashing works just fine; you really don’t need to know much more than “keep pressing A”.
Of course, Batman is all about cool gadgets, and in this respect, Batman: The Brave and the Bold delivers. Batman himself has access to batarangs, explosive charges, a stun-gun, and even Nth metal knuckles that increase his melee damage. Each of these can be unlocked and upgraded by spending coins, which drop from fallen enemies like candy from a pinata. Generally speaking, these alternate attacks cost energy, which slowly regenerates over time, so you can’t just spam triple batarangs all the time, for instance.
Apart from a brief training session at the beginning of the game, Batman is always joined by a partner in crime-fighting. A second player can jump in or out anytime to control these other heroes. There are four main partners, one for each of the “episodes”. Robin is the first, followed by the new Blue Beetle, then Hawkman, and finally loud-mouthed Green Lantern Guy Gardner. The first three of these are very similar to one another, with only minor differences in weaponry and abilities. Guy Garner, however, is a totally different hero, as befits a character wielding a power ring capable of bringing thoughts to life. I’d have preferred a bit more variety in the playstyle of the partners, which, apart from the Green Lantern, play very much like Batman himself.