Whether you know him as the Caped Crusader, Bruce Wayne, or his superhero alter ego Batman, the crime-fighting vigilante has been around for nearly 100 years. This iconic comic book star was first introduced to the world way back in 1939, but it would take over 45 years until the debate over the best Batman game could begin.
Originally released on systems like the Amstrad CPC and the MSX in 1986, the video game debut of the masked hero was far from the best Batman game. Yet, it was the first title that led to a sea of fantastic games to come. Today, we’re taking a look at the vast variety of the Caped Crusader’s interactive experiences as we search for the best Batman game of all time!
The Best Batman Game of All Time
As mentioned above, Batman has a long history in the game industry that stretches back for decades. While many of the old-school Batman games pale in comparison to the flashy visuals and snappy controls of their modern counterparts, there are many that are still worth mentioning. Considering this, we’ve chosen to include both modern and retro games on our list of potential candidates for the best Batman game. We’ve also included a section about the best Batman games coming soon. This is for those more interested in looking forward than fondly remembering the past. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best Batman games ever made!
The Best Batman Game from the Modern Era
Games based on Batman hit their stride during the late-2000s as the seventh generation of game systems was heating up. With powerful home consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Batman was a perfect franchise to adapt into exciting action games with high-definition graphics. These entries on our list were all released after 2006. They can also all be considered a front-runner for the best Batman game from the modern era.
1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
Released in 2009 and developed by Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham Asylum is a clear contender for the best Batman game ever made. The game tells a wholly original story where Batman faces off against his longtime rival, the Joker. In it, the mischievous villain takes control of the Arkham Asylum prison. Playing from a third-person perspective, the game established the dark and gritty Arkham universe. This formed the foundation for many other setting choices for most other Batman games in modern times. The game was full of exciting and fluid combat, interesting gadgets, and plenty of puzzles and stealth. The combination meant Batman: Arkham Asylum was jam-packed with content and told a surprisingly engaging and suspenseful story.
2. Batman: Arkham City
Surprisingly, Batman: Arkham Asylum would only be outdone by its sequel, Batman: Arkham City. Taking the same gameplay formula but applying it to an open-world structure, Rocksteady Studios struck gold with this sophomore entry in the Arkham series. Set after the events of the first game, an entire section of Gotham is transformed into a prison sector called Arkham City, where all of the city’s criminals are housed indefinitely. When Batman is banished to the newly founded slum prison, he must discover the truth behind its construction.
Featuring tons of cameos from Batman’s greatest villains, a host of new gadgets and gameplay features, and some exceptionally good downloadable content, Batman: Arkham City outperformed its predecessor and is easily the best Batman game for most fans.
3. Batman: Arkham VR
With the emergence of accessible virtual reality in the mid-2010s, it was only a matter of time until our dreams of suiting up as superheroes was realized. This game was released in 2016 and is set after the events of Arkham City. Arkham VR thrusts you into the boots of Batman. The immersive storyline tasks you with solving a grisly murder that hits close to home. Armed with many of Batman’s signature gadgets and crime-solving tools, the game leads players on a thrilling and creepy linear adventure with heightened immersion and realism. Published well before the new “The Batman” movie, it seems quite reminiscent of this newest movie installment.
While there is no hand-to-hand combat in Arkham VR, the game still manages to make you feel like a master sleuth and powerful hero, all while telling a mature tale of revenge and consequence. For any fan who has had fantasies of donning a cape and fighting crime, Batman: Arkham VR is a must-play in the library of the best Batman games.
4. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Switching up from the assuredly adult vibes of Arkham VR to something less intense, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is easily the best Batman game to play with your kids or less-experienced gaming pals. Like the other Lego games, this title balances easy-to-understand gameplay concepts with iconic characters, cooperative play, and tons of replayability.
While the other Lego Batman games are also fantastic, Lego Batman 2 expanded the universe and introduced an open-world Gotham City to explore. This great Batman game also introduces other members of the Justice League. Players are tasked with stopping Lex Luthor from becoming President of the United States and overtaking the country. Best of all, players will enjoy the lighthearted story and satisfying gameplay of this family-friendly romp.
5. Batman: The Telltale Series
Batman: The Telltale Series is arguably the most unique out of all the best Batman games. This title offers point ‘n click style adventuring, a distinct art style, and moral choices that shape your journey. Set in an original Batman universe that feels both familiar but different, Batman: The Telltale Series follows Bruce Wayne/Batman as he uncovers harrowing secrets about his family legacy.
While the game contains plenty of action, it plays out at a leisurely pace. Unlike the constant action of some other Batman games, it offers more of a slow-burn episodic story of mystery. Sometimes a change of pace is nice.
One of the most interesting elements of the game is the moral decisions. Each provides an opportunity to play as either a righteous or violent Batman. You can even take on some scenarios as Bruce Wayne or Batman. Each “mask” has its advantages. Overall, Batman: The Telltale Series provides a unique spin on familiar material. The best part is this Batman game lets the player fill in the gaps to create their ideal story.
6. Injustice 2
Created by the same minds behind the Mortal Kombat franchise, it’s no surprise that Injustice 2 features brutal, hard-hitting fights between its contestants. While it’s not a Batman game in name, Injustice 2 is a celebration of all things DC comics, most of all Batman and the Justice League. Injustice 2 takes place after the events of the first game. The storyline sees Batman and other heroes team up to take down a mysterious group known as the Society. This evil cabal is threatening the safety of the entire universe itself!
Between the incredibly lifelike visuals, a slew of awesome game modes, and a roster of some of Batman’s biggest friends and enemies, Injustice 2 is easily the best Batman game in the fighting genre. This game is worth checking out for the story and fan service alone. In fact, Injustice 2 is great fun even if you’re not a huge fan of fighting games.
The Best Batman Game from the Retro Era
While the realistic graphics and hard-hitting combat of newer Batman games provide plenty of excitement, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with older adaptations. Video games started to permeate the mainstream in the 1980s and 1990s. At this time, Batman was already one of the most popular heroes around. Whether it’s immense nostalgia or undying love for golden-age game design, many fans will point to some of these retro picks when considering the best Batman games. These entries on our list were all released before 2006. Yet, without them, we wouldn’t have the awesome Batman games of today.
7. Batman: Return of the Joker (NES)
The first Batman game on NES was a hit. Yet the sequel, Batman: Return of the Joker was received even better. Modeled after other popular sidescrolling games like Contra, Return of the Joker offered seven stages full of retro action in all of its pixel-art glory. In the game, Batman must travel to the Joker’s secret base. Once there, he must stop the villain from building missiles and destroying Gotham City.
Upon release, Return of the Joker was hailed as one of the best action games of its time. It told an original story based on the comics rather than the films. In the decades since its release, the game has garnered renewed praise for its beautiful graphics. At the time, its graphics pushed the NES to its limits. When it comes to the best Batman game from the retro years, Batman: Return of the Joker is one to look for.
8. The Adventures of Batman and Robin (SNES)
We’ve covered lots of titles that could be considered the best Batman game already, but there’s been a notable lack of the iconic sidekick, Robin. That’s not the case in The Adventures of Batman and Robin, a beat ’em up for the Super Nintendo based on Batman: The Animated Series. Created by Konami, this game offered a stylish cartoon look with plenty of combat to enjoy. While the SNES version was a single-player game that only featured Batman, the Genesis version offered a two-player mode. In it, the second player filled the shoes of the agile accomplice, Robin. With multiple gadgets to use, two different difficulty options, and a simple concept, The Adventure of Batman and Robin is definitely one of the best Batman games to come out of the 1990s.
9. Batman Returns (SNES)
While The Adventures of Batman and Robin exists as a stellar action game, there’s another Batman beat ’em up on Super Nintendo that deserves just as much praise. This one was based on the 1992 movie directed by Tim Burton. Batman Returns was another game developed by Konami which exemplified the developer’s talent for the beat ’em up genre. Set in the cold holiday months in Gotham City, the game sees Batman defeating a gang of clowns as he takes deals with both the Penguin and Catwoman. All told, there were eight different versions of Batman Returns. Yet, the Super Nintendo version remains the best of the lot. As both an exciting adaptation of the movie and Christmas game in disguise, Batman Returns on Super Nintendo is just as fun now as it was in 1992.
10. Batman Begins
Jumping forward to the sixth generation of home consoles, Batman Begins was the last Batman game before the Arkham universe dominated the brand. Based on the movie directed by Christopher Nolan, Batman Begins put a big emphasis on stealth action, borrowing elements from popular titles like Splinter Cell. Using a slew of gadgets, you’ll strike true fear into your foes as you seek the twisted and terrorizing villain, Scarecrow. While there’s a significant amount of stealth, the game also offers driving sections, hand-to-hand combat, and more. Unfortunately, a sequel based on The Dark Knight movie was never realized, but Batman Begins still stands as one of the best Batman games based on the films.
The Best Batman Game Coming Soon
Luckily, the fight for the title of best Batman game will rage on. There are even multiple new releases starring the DC hero coming soon. While none of these titles are entirely centered around Batman, fans should still enjoy them enough. They feature some of the best characters from the Batman universe. Until the next Batman: Arkham game is announced, either of these picks deserves the title of the best Batman game coming soon!
11. Gotham Knights
Gotham Knights is an open-world game with an attention-grabbing premise. It is set for release on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles in October of 2022. After the death of Batman and Jim Gordon, Gotham experiences a rise in crime. Yet, only Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Red Hood are left to defend the city.
This batman game is playable as a solo or two-player cooperative experience. In it, you’ll attempt to restore Gotham while repelling iconic villains like the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and the elusive organization known as the Court of Owls. Despite the premise, many fans are convinced that Batman is still alive. In fact, he might be a fifth and final playable character. We’ll have to wait and see if Gotham Knights succeeds or fails when it comes out at the end of the year.
The premise is interesting and unique from other Batman titles. We are hopeful that it may be one of the best Batman games of all time!
12. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is the next game from the Batman: Arkham developers, Rocksteady Studios. This new game completely flips the script and focuses on the villains instead of the heroes. Set in the Arkham universe, the game sees Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, and Captain Boomerang head to the bustling city of Metropolis to take down members of the Justice League who have been brainwashed by the alien menace, Brainiac. Each character has unique abilities and different play styles, helping you traverse around Metropolis with ease.
Given the developer’s experience with the Batman brand, many fans are propping up Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League as the best Batman game that’s yet to release. The hype for this upcoming game is high! Yet, we’ll have to wait a bit to play it. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League won’t be coming out until sometime in 2023.
Final Thoughts on the Best Batman Game of All Time
We love everything Batman, from the comics, to the movies and TV shows, and to the fantastic and varied games. With so many wonderful shades of black to explore, there’s something for everyone in the Batman universe. If you are looking for something very unique and story-driven, you will find joy in Batman from the Telltale Series. On the other extreme, for action lovers, there are the Arkham series of games as well as the upcoming Suicide Squad game. There is something for everyone.
Please let us know in the comments below if you’ve found your favorite amongst these titles highlighted here or if you think the best Batman game award belongs to even another great game.