Gotham Knights looks great, but it won't have a playable Batman. There are plenty of classic games that could be remastered to honor the vigilante.
Gotham Knights is coming later this year, but there have been plenty of noteworthy Batman games that have never been rereleased, including plenty that could use a remake or remaster. New entries are frequent enough that there hasn't really been a gap to fill, but seeing as how Batman is dead in Gotham Knights' story, remastering classic games is the perfect way to honor the caped crusader. Apart from Telltale Games and Lego projects, the iconic Arkham series is Batman's only recent video game franchise, and its first two games have already been remastered. There were plenty of acclaimed titles before Arkham stole the spotlight, so it's time to decide which ones Warner Bros. should bring to the modern era.
Batman games have been steadily released since 1989, and have been on every generation of consoles since the NES. Of course, some titles deserve to have faded into obscurity. Batman Forever: The Arcade Game, Batman: Partners in Peril, and Batman: Chaos in Gotham are all mediocre entries that came and went without much fanfare, and many of the movie adaptations expectedly flopped. Even Arkham's beloved, plot-twisting Batman story dipped in quality with Arkham Origins. Another game, Batman: Dark Tomorrow, is still infamous for its exceptionally negative reviews, but there are a few titles that are exemplary for their genre.
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At this point, the Batman brand is instantly recognizable, and the franchise's more popular villains are iconic in modern society. How each game utilizes this universe is an important factor in its reception, second only to gameplay mechanics. The most renowned classic Batman games didn't just lean on their story, they made a name for themselves as some of the most mechanically impressive options in their genre.
This 3D isometric action-adventure title is the very first DC game with a playable Batman, and it was received very well. Batman, which was released for MSX, the ZX Spectrum, and two Amstrad computers, won several awards from computer gaming publications, and it is credited as one of the first games to implement a checkpoint-like feature. It looks great for its time, it popularized revolutionary new elements for the genre, and its success encouraged the rampant production of future Batman games, so it has pretty much everything going for it. Batman did see a couple of unofficial rereleases for PC, but it undoubtedly deserves a true remaster.
The Caped Crusader followed the 1986 Batman two years later, and it was released for a variety of older computers. Despite its positive reception, some fans will likely disagree with the inclusion of Batman's second new video game in a list like this. It is admittedly slow for an action-adventure title, but unlike the other contenders here, its gameplay has nothing to do with why it should be remastered. This game is included for one reason only: it has a completely unique visual style meant to emulate comic books, and no other Batman game has managed to capture that feeling the same way since. Each game location is set in its own panel, and despite its age, it executes its comic book simulation very well. It might not be a top priority, but it would be a treat to see how this game's quirky structure and style translate to modern consoles.
This platform entry loosely based on the 1989 Batman film is surprisingly great considering the video game's tie-in source material. Its wall jump mechanic was still novel at the time, and it had an impressive roster of comic book villains that included Deadshot, Killer Moth, and the Electrocutioner. That said, there are three video games based on the movie, and only the NES version is worth playing; the GBA and Sega Genesis ports are disappointing and vastly different.
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Brett Alan Weiss called Batman: The Video Game "one of the best superhero games for the NES," despite the fact that it is considered one of the system's most difficult titles. The NES has a long list of absurdly challenging games, so one could only imagine how the 1989 Batman earned that reputation, but it has also proven itself worthy of a modern port.
This 1992 beat 'em up Batman game based on Tim Burton's Batman Returns film was ported to a wide variety of systems, but while the Genesis version was also well received, the SNES version is the one truly worth remastering. Though none of the ports are abhorrent, the SNES version is by far the most highly rated and is widely considered a classic within the genre. It won many awards, it was praised from top to bottom, still finding itself on some "best of" lists every now and then. As classic Batman goes, there are few games that deserve a remaster as much as Batman Returns, and regardless of the Tim Burton movies' sillier cult-classic reputation, this is a perfect example of how to translate a Batman movie into a tie-in video game.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin is yet another loose game adaptation, this time using Batman: The Animated Series as source material. Like the Batman Returns game, this title's best platform is the SNES, and the versions are unique enough so the platform makes a stark difference. The gameplay is good but not groundbreaking, but this game's atmosphere is what cemented it as a Batman classic: the graphics and sound are exceptionally well done. This may not be the best SNES Batman game of all time, but it is one of the console's better platformers, and its nostalgia value alone makes it worth remastering. The story is set in an amusement park and features several Batman villains who make their video game debut. Also, although the game is only loosely based on its source material, the highly acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series is arguably the best piece of non-comic Batman media to adapt.
Return of the Joker for the NES is one of the few Batman games that deserves a better legacy than it got. The gameplay may not have been as exquisite as that of its predecessor, Batman: The Video Game (1989), but its graphics were universally critically acclaimed, and it has been listed as one of the top ten Batman video games on multiple occasions. The Genesis version is worth skipping, but the Game Boy port is decent (though far simpler than the NES version). The self-contained plot is rare and fun, with an exemplary portrayal of Batman's terrifying nemesis, the Joker, as the game's final boss. The main reason this game is not solidly on the list is that The Adventures of Batman & Robin has the same strengths and is more recognizable, so although this game deserves a good remaster (which would satiate the world's never-ending desire for a good Batman-versus-Joker story), it can wait for other classic Batman games to come first.
Next: Every Batman: Arkham Game, Ranked Worst To Best
Gotham Knights releases on October 25 for Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5, and PC.
Jonathan Golden is a Game Features writer at Screen Rant. His passions include video games, animation, chemistry, and writing. Jonathan was practically raised on a combination of The Simpsons and Cartoon Network cartoons and has been gaming since he got a PlayStation 2 in elementary school. Some of his favorite series are Bioshock, Mega Man, Silent Hill, Super Smash Bros, Pokémon, God of War, and Shadow of the Colossus. After studying chemistry at UC Santa Cruz, he decided to try his hand at screenwriting and is still waiting to see if he’ll regret it. He spends an inordinate amount of time making content, including videos, podcasts, various scripts, and articles. Someday, Jonathan will be driven insane by his Quixote-like quest to play every great video game ever made, but for now, he’s still trying to work his way through the PlayStation 1 catalog. He currently resides in Santa Monica, where he was raised.