However, the most significant leap in media came recently with Batman Defend Gotham. The game runs on computers, however it isn’t tied to the traditional x86 based Windows architecture. Instead, it uses Flash in order to target any computer or even phone which can use Flash players within a browser. This might be a bit overly technical. But what it means for the player is that they can expect to be able to play Batman Defend Gotham on any computer with a browser.
On a technical level, the game shouldn’t prove overly taxing for most modern computers. The game uses 2D rather than 3D graphics, which keeps the general system requirements at a fairly low level. Again, this means that the game should be able to run on almost any system. While phones which support flash technologies are getting a bit more rare at this point, the game is undemanding enough that even mobile processors should be able to handle it if it has a native Flash player.
The graphics themselves are gorgeous. One of the most entertaining features of the game is the fact that it really respects the past. In the late 90s, a few high quality 2D Batman games were released on home consoles. These remained some of the best licensed Batman games, or even simply the best licenced games from any franchise, for a long time.
One of the fun things about Batman Defend Gotham is the fact that the game harkens back so strongly to those early games. In many ways they feel like a spiritual sequel to the games. Except that they also take advantage of modern technology. Even lower power computers are a couple thousand times more powerful than the consoles which ran those older games. This means that the developers were able to keep much of the style of those games, but take it up several notches.
One of the first things that the player will notice is the fact that the colors are brilliant. It looks almost like a beautiful hand drawn and inked comic which has been brought to life. Except that it’s all fully animated. The actual art style also harkens back to the golden years of the late 90s. Except, again, the more powerful technologies allow for the dream to be more fully realized.
The art can be considered as something of a cross before the more abstract early Batman works, the darker themes which came about as a result of the animated series, and the more realistic bent of Burton’s movies. All in all, this comes together to create something which one can easily tell the developers of the time dreamed of making. In many ways it can be considered as a culmination of their dreams and ideals.
How does the game play? The controls are easy to learn, but more difficult to fully master. The arrow keys on the keyboard control Batman’s movements. Z will bring out the claws while X delivers a kick. Pushing down and X will deliver a leg sweep to take down the enemy. During play, Batman will pick up some special items. These allow for a special attack. A special attack can be triggered by pressing the space key under the right circumstances. However, the player shouldn’t worry about it too much. In theory the player would need to keep an eye out for the item total. However, in practice the game is great about alerting players to the current status. The game will actually alert the player when the chance to use the special attack has come up.
The player can also press up to jump. However, it’s important to keep in mind that one can’t attack while in the air. Jumps can be useful to evade attacks by jumping over enemies. It should not be considered a way to actually aid an attack though. Other than as part of a strategy to get behind an enemy in order to catch him by surprise.
The gameplay is mostly in line with a standard beat ’em up. However, the main difference comes down to speed. Most beat ’em up games tend to begin with a somewhat measured pace. Batman Defend Gotham starts with a very fast pace even on the first level. And the first level, by default, is considered easy mode. The player needs to get used to a somewhat higher reaction speed very quickly in order to make progress.
At the same time though, the gameplay is quite intuitive for someone used to the genre. Even new players should be able to get used to it fairly quickly. And one a player isn’t thinking about the keypresses it becomes a lot easier. Eventually use of Batman simply becomes more of an extension of the players will. The keypresses feel almost like actually moving within that virtual world.
There are also a handful of boss fights scattered throughout the game. These come as a culmination of the specific henchman enemy type which are rushing in Batman’s direction within any given level. This allows the player to get a good idea of what he’s up against before it actually happens.
All in all, the game is a fantastic entry into the franchise. It’s a game that would have carried a hefty price tag at one point. But now players can experience it simply by firing up their browser.