The Dreaded Backlog: Lego Batman
Welcome to THE DREADED BACKLOG! It’s incredibly easy to buy video games, but it takes a lot more time to play through them. All of us have a backlog of good gaming intentions that need to be fulfilled. Together we must overcome the overwhelming threat of THE DREADED BACKLOG!
This week I have been playing my copy of Lego Batman on the Xbox 360. I purchased it over a year ago and only gave it a single spin of the disc until recently. I’ve had quite a few thoughts since playing it.
The first thought is that I miss Lego games being this simple. Whilst they clearly haven’t become complex games that require dedicated button mapping memorisation or tactical genius, the minifigures have started talking and having more abilities than punch/throw/build. The newer titles that employ more gameplay mechanics such as Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and Lego Marvel Superheroes don’t allow me to stop paying attention and relax when I am playing. However I suppose they do still involve a lot of punching and throwing things.
I always loved the dialogue-less Lego games for their slapstick visual humour, something missing from a lot of child (and adult frankly) orientated comedy media. My favourite Lego game will always be the first Lego Indiana Jones release.
Thus Lego Batman allows me to experience some nostalgia for the past style of Lego games that is now lost to me. On the topic of nostalgia my other thoughts were on the game’s approach to adapting the Batman mythos. (I promise to write fewer Batman articles from now on.) The creators have chosen to meld the humour of the 1960’s campy TV series, with Lego Bat-family and villain character design given a mix of the Tim Burton versions and the current comic book appearances. This style choice works perfectly.
Another observation also concerns the relation of the Lego Batman game to the other Lego games. Particularly in the area of visual disappointments. Aside from The Lego Movie Video Game, no Lego games ever render the world itself in Lego brick form, just regular low-res graphics. Lego Harry Potter has a low-res Hogwarts, Lego Star Wars has a low-res Death Star and Lego Batman has a low-res Gotham. It’s like playing a poor looking Batman game with some Lego characters that just happen to be there. The only Lego bricks you see are the ones you punch into non-existence.
I recall the game recieving flak at its time of release for lacking focus storywise. Due to the fact that all of the Lego games made prior to this one were based on famous films with famous moments, Lego Batman‘s lack of a single text to adapt or be inspired by it does lack focus. There are no famous film moments to spoof. Just characters usually portrayed as psychopathic doing childish slapstick pratfalls. That’s the only real joke. Batman is grim, but he also trips up. The humour is designed to alleviate the monotonous gameplay (it’s basically pressing X lots and occasionally holding B) but if your jokes are monotonous too it doesn’t work.
These thoughts summarise my feelings on Lego Batman when finally getting around to playing it. The gameplay has nostaglia factor but is monotonous. The character design is inventive, but the world design is not. The prescence of the humour is appreciated, but it fails often. Mostly I found that I could only play individual levels at a time, sustained playtime would have broken me down swiftly.