Batman’s been entertaining generations of comic-book readers, TV watchers and movie viewers. He’s been in tons of video games, too, but it’s only been until recently that the games have actually been good. Last year’s Batman: Arkham Asylum gave players a grim vision of the Dark Knight and his world, which got widely acclaimed as the best superhero game ever. This year’s Bat-game goes in a radically different direction, adapting the brighter and more comedic Batman: The Brave and the Bold show on Cartoon Network. The series riffs on the old Batman team-up comic, which paired the Caped Crusader up with various other heroes from the DC Universe. The Wii-exclusive title follows the same structure and lets two players fight crime in Gotham City and beyond. Adam Tierney–the designer at the WayForward dev studio that directed the game–answered some questions about Batman’s newest video game adventures.
What’s the secret origin of the WayForward development studio? Do you know what it was in your pitch or previous work that won you the B&B gig?
Unfortunately our company’s secret origin doesn’t involve slipping into a vat of toxic waste or being orphaned on an alien planet. WayForward was founded by Voldi Way (our President and “Tyrannical Overlord”) about 20 years ago. We began by creating CD-Rom games with an emphasis on educational entertainment. Then in 2002, we released Shantae on the GameBoy Color through Capcom. It was one of the best-received titles on that system, notable for its old-school gameplay sensibilities and beautiful character animation. Since then we’ve gone on to work on titles such as Contra 4, LIT, and A Boy and his Blob. No matter what the project, whether it’s licensed or original, we always place an emphasis on classic gameplay mechanics, challenging difficulty, impressive animation, and relatable characters.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold the Videogame was right up our alley, because the TV cartoon focused on these same core elements. Our pitch to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment highlighted that gamers would be able to “play the cartoon.” We didn’t want this to feel like a typical videogame adaptation. We wanted the player to feel as if they were directly controlling the TV program they tuned into each week. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment liked the approach, and after a few documents, demos, and presentations, we landed the gig for both the Wii and Nintendo DS games.
I love the running dialogue between Batman, Robin and the other heroes during gameplay. What made you guys have banter between the playable characters?
It just goes back to the idea of translating the show to game form, rather than adapting it. The game is broken into four brand new “game episodes,” each with the same structure as an episode of the cartoon. We didn’t want to fall into the usual pattern of chatty cutscene, followed by silent gameplay. So instead, we have the story constantly unfolding during the gameplay, just as it does in the TV show. Batman and his playable partner (who differs in each episode) banter back and forth for comedy, but they also make observations and decisions that drive the story. This gives the player the impression that they’re actually piloting the characters from the show, rather than navigating around a bland avatar.