Daily Archives: September 24, 2008

LEGO Batman Unleashed

Is the chicken soup fresh?


LEGO Batman: The Video Game was on the store shelves yesterday, available for a variety of game systems including the Wii.  Since we have a Wii, that is the version that interests me.

And, as with the past LEGO titles from Traveler’s Tales, I am considering buying it.

However, I am just not as enthusiastic about it in advance as I was for LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga or LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.

As spot on as Batman is for the LEGO video game franchise, what with the utility belt and the absolute legitimacy of the character punching people in the face repeatedly (How many times did Luke Skywalker ever punch anybody in the movies?  I think Princess Leia hit more people.), I’m not quite there yet for this title.

Part of this is probably a bit of burn-out on Traveler’s Tales’ LEGO game franchise.  Their chicken soup is not so fresh any more.

While I am sure it will be fun, as with Warhammer Online for the MMO veterans, I am sure there will also be a lot of “sameness” about it.

I haven’t played LEGO Batman, nor have I read much about it, but I can bet that in any given level you will fight all sorts of bad guys, solve some puzzles, and collect a lot of LEGO studs to unlock characters and abilities that you will then be able to use in the “free play” version of the level.

To finish the game, to get that magic 100% display, you will have to go back through each of the levels in “free play” mode, as some of the special hidden items (canisters in LEGO Star Wars, treasure chests in LEGO Indiana Jones) will only be accessible with via abilities that you won’t have in the “story mode” version of the game.

Am I close?

I could be wrong, but my guess is that they have hit their stride and won’t deviate much from past success.  Again, not that it won’t be fun, but it is no longer a “rush out and get it today” level of fun.

Then there is the price.

$50 is something I have to think about.  I just wrote a check for a new roof on the house and it isn’t like the current headlines in the paper are all about prosperity and economic growth.

Well, that and, after playing LEGO Indiana Jones, I am skeptical about there being $50 of value in the game for me, when measured by my own dubious internal, unquantifiable metrics.  Those internal metrics were set, of course, by LEGO Start Wars: The Complete Saga (which may be a bit unfair since that was a re-release of two past titles) and LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (which I feel is a fair comparison).

My internal barometer of game value says that if LEGO Batman were $30, I would already own it.  At $40 I will buy it the minute we tire of our current Wii titles and want something new to play.  But at $50, it is a special item, something for Christmas, Birthday, or other such event.

Finally, after price, we have the story itself.

The LEGO Star Wars and Indiana Jones titles had huge, well known movies behind them.  Most people have seen them. (We made my mother watch Raiders of the Lost Ark when she was out to visit, so there is one more person on the list.)  Traveler’s Tales could get away with making fun of a lot in those movies because some many people have the context to get it.

Batman though… well… which Batman?  Is he the comic books from my youth, the TV show I grew up with (Julie Newmar is the only real Catwoman… well, she’s in the top 5 at least), the Tim Burton launched movies, one of the animated series, the new movies, or maybe the Frank Miller version?

Okay, it is probably not the Frank Miller version, cool though that would be.  I haven’t read much about the game, as I said above, but I can probably guess that much.

The problem is not that Batman isn’t as universal as Star Wars or Indiana Jones, the problem is that there are so many variations of him.  And no matter which version they picked, it will be the wrong version for somebody.  Somebody out there will be looking for the chicken soup scene in the Superfriend’s version of the Batman character.  It might be the wrong Batman for me.

So there I stand.

All that said, the vague LEGO ennui, the value proposition, and the “whose Batman is it anyway” angst, I am sure we will end up owning the game at some point and that my daughter and I will have a lot of fun playing it.

The chicken soup may not be fresh, but I bet it is still very good.

We just won’t be getting the game this week… or next week, most likely.

How about you? Did you get a copy?