Batman: Arkham Joke(r)

With the recent release of Batman: Arkham Knight – we are now officially four games into the Arkham series (yes, Arkham Origins counts). Through the years, audiences have been following Rocksteady and Warner Bros. Montreal and their efforts to tell a series of interesting stories around the Batman. Well, four games and six years after the release of Arkham Asylum and one thing has become clear: Batman has only one villain worth talking about… at least according to these two developers.

Batman has truly met his match, in terms of popularity at least.
Batman has truly met his match, in terms of popularity at least.

Yes, in their efforts to expand and expound upon Batman mythology, Rocksteady has instead created a world that feels ironically small. It seems like nothing happens in Gotham without the clown prince of crime playing at least one of (if not the only) significant roles. While no one would argue that the Joker is Batman’s best and most iconic villain, I think quite a few people would disagree that he is the only interesting one.

Wow, that's a lot of villains who are only fit for side roles.
Wow, that’s a lot of villains who are only fit for side roles.

Yet this was the narrative told over and over again throughout the course of these games, and it was not told simply by having the Joker take central spotlight. It was cemented by the developer’s shrugging off of every other villain’s development. Let’s look at Two-Face, for instance. The former district attorney with dual personalities first appeared in Arkham City – where he was all about putting Catwoman on trial… for some reason. Probably because she’s the worst villain around since she’s kind of a good guy. Batman and Catwoman stop him and Two-Face spends the rest of the game… occupying museums until captured. Don’t worry! He’s back in Arkham Knight with a grand plan to… rob banks… really… how devious.

Justice is one of the interesting stories to explore with Harvey Dent. At least figuring out his identity would be more interesting than "guessing" who the Arkham Knight is.
Justice is one of the interesting stories to explore with Harvey Dent. At least figuring out his identity would be more interesting than “guessing” who the Arkham Knight is.

Granted, the most interesting thing about Two-Face is his origin (an origin skipped in Arkham Origins – cause we needed more Joker time). Still, Harvey Dent has not fallen quite so far as to be an ordinary thug. His dual nature can be used in interesting ways, and a slew of stories exist around the character that bear exploring.
Dent is one of many characters that Rocksteady appears thoroughly unimpressed with. A villain who is worth a quick punch and nothing more. After all, who can measure up to the Joker’s insanity, his genius for evil plans, and (spoilers) his ability to be the main villain in a game where he is already dead. Yeah, the main villain of Arkham Knight is… the Joker… again.

Nice trying to look cool Two-Face, but you can't fool me. You're no clown.
Nice trying to look cool Two-Face, but you can’t fool me. You’re no clown.

Scarecrow is the villain all over the game. Batman hears his voice every few minutes, telling him over and over again that he will lose. On the surface, Rocksteady tells the player that Scarecrow is to be feared, that he is a threat – but that is all it is: telling. There is never a moment where the player feels that Scarecrow is, well, scary. It’s never shown. The master of fear appears to be doing little to frighten Batman, other than creating visions of the Joker… or is it the Joker disease doing that? Honestly, the story in Arkham Knight is as hokey and full of holes as any Adam West led sitcom.

The Scarecrow sequences in Asylum may have had control issues but they were at least interesting. No such luck with Arkham Knight.
The Scarecrow sequences in Asylum may have had control issues but they were at least interesting. No such luck with Arkham Knight.

So the player is told how Scarecrow must be stopped, all while trying to stop the Joker. Scarecrow stands instead as a straw man (get it?), a plot device waiting to be fulfilled at the end of the game to signal that the main storyline is over.
But wait, what of the Arkham Knight, the titular villain of the game? Without giving anything away – let’s just say that the Arkham Knight’s creation and defeat both revolve entirely around – you guessed it – the Joker.

Never has a villain tried so hard to be cool and failed so completely. At least he is faithful to his secret identity.
Never has a villain tried so hard to be cool and failed so completely. At least he is faithful to his secret identity.

Really, this wouldn’t feel so tired if it wasn’t the fourth time. While every game after the original has claimed to split the villain billing, it has become truly boring to climax every adventure with a Joker fight. Arkham City did the best job creating a world of multiple villains, but even that still ultimately failed to create a world larger than two people. The game was Joker centric enough to make the climax a scene of Batman carrying the Joker’s lifeless body, despite the fact that Talia, Batman’s “beloved,” was just murdered.

Sorry Talia, Batman evidently follows the Bro Code.
Sorry Talia, Batman evidently follows the Bro Code.

Arkham Origins was able to bring Bane to the table in a way that Rocksteady never cared to do, but that only lasted until Bane felt compelled to take memory-erasing, mentally-debilitating drugs in order to physically beat Batman. I’m not kidding, Rocksteady had created such a stupid, uninteresting version of Bane that, in order to reconcile Arkham Origins as a prequel, the writers had to invent a way to make him dumber. Wow.

So it has been the Joker, and only the Joker, who has occupied the Batman games… and that needs to change. With Rocksteady hopefully exiting the Batman market (at least for a game or two to recharge) and the Arkham series reaching its “end” game, the time is here to reflect and examine how to make future Batman games better. The answer is simple. Make it bigger. I don’t mean the city this time – I mean the world. Explore these characters and give gamers a story without the clown prince pulling all the strings. It may take a little bit more work, but the results will be worth it.
Also no more Riddler trophies. I’m not kidding; collecting those has become the opposite of fun.

Ten Fighters You Should Vote Into Smash Bros.

Every time a Smash Bros. game is announced, part of the fun is guessing who will be in it. There are safe bets like Mario, Link, Kirby, and Samus, but there are also internet hopefuls. Well, now – for the first time ever – Nintendo is letting us pick. Yes. Yes. Yes!

Now loyal customers or perhaps just those rare few people with the internet (Nintendo still doesn’t know the internet is a thing apparently, just ask Mario Party 10) can vote for the next fighter. Simply go to this official ballot site and cast your vote. All you need to know is your gender (cause girl votes only count for .8 of man votes), the character you want, which game they came from, and why you want them. In terms of knowing your gender… I can’t really help you beyond providing this guide. Figure it out?

Okay, well if that’s as far as you got before getting lost, here are some ideas for Smash Bros. Some are safe, some are reaching, all are possible. Maybe. Power to the people! Yay!

1. Goku (Dragonball Z: The Legacy of Goku for Gameboy Advance)

I’ll start off with the Kotaku push. For those out there who don’t know – how do you not know? Goku has been around for ages. He is so popular that, even if you don’t watch anime, you’ve likely still seen him around. The Saiyan fighter seems to be a natural fit in a fighting game.

People want Goku so much that they've already added him to Smash Bros.
People want Goku so much that they’ve already added him to Smash Bros.

2. Paper Mario (Paper Mario for Nintendo 64)

Okay, the argument against this guy is that we shouldn’t have to vote for him. Why isn’t he already in the game? Like seriously, we got Dr. Mario as far back as Melee but Paper Mario gets no love. That’s too bad because, unlike his P.H.D. bragging counterpart, this Mario could actually warrant an original move set.

Paper Mario waiting his turn to appear in Smash Bros.

3. Bayonetta (Bayonetta 2 for Wii U)

If the Nintendo universe were not so devoid of sexuality, Bayonetta would probably already be in the game. Still, it comes across as kind of a dick move by Nintendo. Newcomer Platinum Games loves working with Nintendo after all. They made Bayonetta 2 a Wii U exclusive. Monolith Soft made Xenoblade Chronicles an exclusive and Shulk got to be in the game. Sounds kinda sexist there, Big N.

Bayonetta: the character who could single-handedly raise the age requirement.
Bayonetta: the character who could single handedly raise the age requirement.

4. Shovel Knight (Shovel Knight for 3DS/Wii U)

Why would not want to play as a knight wielding a shovel? Also the fact that this game has been one of the biggest indie hits for Nintendo should count for something. Let’s get Shovel Knight to dig in (haha get it?).

And he fits with Nintendo's anti-violence message!
And he fits with Nintendo’s anti-violence message!

5. Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil 4 for Gamecube/Everything)

Speaking of cashing in a favor, remember the Gamecube? Remember Resident Evil 4: that sick once-exclusive for the Gamecube that got everyone excited for Resident Evil again? Yeah, let’s give Leon his due. His move set would be unique, and maybe we could also get a cool cultist village level to fight in.

Leon's already enjoyed a crossover with Lord of the Rings, why not Nintendo?
Leon’s already enjoyed a crossover with Lord of the Rings, why not Nintendo?

6. Batman (Batman for NES)

Because what isn’t better with Batman in it?

Pretty much the only reason you need to vote for him.
Pretty much the only reason you need to vote for him.

7. Aang (Avatar: the Last Airbender for Wii)

Yeah, of course I’m going to promote more Avatar: the Last Airbender. Apart from that though, just think about it. Think about how much Aang would fit into Smash Bros. and how cool his move list would be. Did you think about it? All right, now make it happen.

With your help, Aang can finally be rendered with a mouth.
With your help, Aang can finally be rendered with a mouth.

8. Bomberman (Bomberman 64 for Nintendo 64)

We already got Mario, Sonic, Mr. Game & Watch, Pac-Man, and Mega Man. Poor Bomberman is feeling left out. Besides, it would be fun to have someone with continuous access to high-powered explosives.

Bomberman needs more love.
Bomberman needs more love.

9. Rayman (Rayman Legends for Wii U)

Seriously, this guy has a trophy in the game. How is he not already in the game? HOW?! Nintendo and Ubisoft need to fix their stupid argument and make this a reality.

He's already a trophy! This is the hugest tease ever!
He’s already a trophy! This is the hugest tease ever!

10. Godzilla (Godzilla Unleashed for Wii)

Because Godzilla needs to fight everybody. It is his destiny. This was my vote.

Super_Smash_Bros_Godzilla_1989

Bonus: Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th for NES)

Cause f*ck Mortal Kombat X. Nintendo should get him too.

Be sure to specify that you want the purple Jason.
Be sure to specify that you want the purple Jason.

Weekly Wrap-Up (Mar. 9-15): Dark Souls II, Captain America 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Toys, and More

Wasn’t the biggest week in terms of development. Nevertheless, here we go:

1) Dark Souls II and Titanfall were released, with Dark Souls II landing more press coverage.

This, to me, shows just how much brands matter. I know that Dark Souls II has also been reviewed to be the better game (92 on Metacritic vs. 86 for Titanfall) but being a sequel has really helped Dark Souls II gain more attention than Titanfall. It also helps that Dark Souls II was released for last-gen systems (weird to say that) and Titanfall was pushed on the Xbox One: a system that does not sound like it is selling as well as Microsoft hoped.

At least this man was marginally excited for Titanfall's release.
At least this man was marginally excited for Titanfall‘s release.

2) Captain America 3 is set to battle the Superman/Batman movie at the Box Office.

Guess that means that Cap isn’t dying in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Producers have already revealed that they are willing to shift the Superman/Batman movie release date yet again: such confidence.

I'm still waiting for a movie where this legitimately happens.
I’m still waiting for a movie where this legitimately happens.

3)Action figures spoil designs for the Ninja Turtles and Muto.

Well, how much can you really spoil the Ninja Turtles? Here they are (warning: they look like turtles! But somehow ninjas? And teenagers? AND MUTANTS?! Mind blown). One of Godzilla’s foes (from the upcoming film of the same name) was also spoiled. Muto, enjoy the picture below for a first, albeit low-quality look at the monster.

Again: words fail me with how excited I am for this movie.
Again: words fail me with how excited I am for this movie.

4) Do people not like to make sequels in the same decade as the originals anymore?

Seriously, first 300 (cause soooo many people wanted another one of those) and now Sin City?

5) Americans rush to re-embrace Cold War attitudes on Russia.

Evidently it wasn’t fun enough the first time.

6) In an era of unprecidented technology and communication: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanishes without a trace.

This is a tragically fascinating story that has been developing over the past week. Everyone is blaming someone else. My thoughts go with the families involved in this upsetting story.

7) Obama appeared on “Between Two Ferns”

WHAT?! So wonderful.

But not everyone thought so.