Batman is one tough act to follow, and not just for other heroes on the comic page. The shadow cast by Batman: the Animated Series looms over every subsequent Batman-related cartoon effort. However, Batman: the Brave and the Bold’s blend of the kitschy super-prepared almost-friendly Batman of the Adam West TV version (complete with an eye-browed mask), a deep roster of DC Universe heroes, and a respect for the material has won over fans both young and old.
Those fans looking to bring the show to life for themselves can with Batman: the Brave and the Bold: The Videogame which will be released for the Wii and Nintendo DS on September 7th. Newsarama sat down with the game’s Director, Adam Tierney of WayForward Technologies (of the recent remake of A Boy and His Blob) to talk about Batman’s latest gaming adventure.
Newsarama: The Batman: The Brave and the Bold TV series is known for its deep roster of DC characters, which ones made the cut for the videogame?
Adam Tierney: Quite a few! We have five fully playable characters in the Wii game which are Batman, Robin, Blue Beetle, Hawkman, and [Green Lantern] Guy Gardner. There are also multiple jump-in heroes, who act like smart bombs. Then we have over a dozen boss characters, and a large collection of cameos and easter eggs. I’ve been told that between the DS and Wii games, we’ve got over 60 DC Comics’ heroes and villains represented.
Nrama: Will they all be available at the outset?
Tierney: The game is essentially four playable episodes, although each of our game episodes is substantially longer than an episode from the TV show. These are played in order, so you begin the game as Batman and Robin, and end it as Batman and Guy Gardner. Because of how much storytelling and Voice Over (VO) we have throughout the game, each hero partner is exclusive to their own episode. However, the player can replay any episode or stage once it’s been beaten, to continue upgrading each character’s abilities.
Nrama: What were the criteria for choosing them?
Tierney: It was a combination of characters that are prominent in the show, combined with characters that both Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WayForward liked and also some surprises thrown in to please fans. The biggest deciding factor, ultimately, was the plot. We selected heroes and villains that worked well in a particular situation, and played well off Batman. The central theme of the TV show is partnership, and they team Batman up with (or pit him against) a wide variety of DC Universe characters that make for interesting stories. And since there’s a huge focus on storytelling in our game, we chose heroes, villains, and environments that would make for interesting stories.
Nrama: Any hero or villain making their first The Brave and the Bold appearance in the game?
Tierney: All characters in our game have appeared on the TV show, in some form or another. However, some of the characters have been more fully developed for the game than they were in their TV appearance. Hawkman had a small part in the TV show, but plays a major role in the game, in our ‘heartfelt’ game episode. Arisia (a Green Lantern) and Copperhead appeared in the TV show, but make their speaking debuts in our game. And then you have characters like Sinestro, who makes his post-Green Lantern debut (blue and black suit) in our game.
Nrama: How is the co-op gameplay balanced to take into account the wide variety of powers and abilities the heroes possess?
Tierney: Well to start, the game is always co-op. Whether it’s one player or two, the game always has Batman and his partner teaming up to solve crime. Going on a solo adventure wouldn’t be true to the spirit of the TV show, and we’ve got a ridiculous amount of VO banter that plays during gameplay to keep the plot progressing (just like the cartoon). The game features drop-in, drop-out co-op so that at any point in a 2-player game, either player can quit and have their character immediately taken over by the game’s AI. And at any point, the player can hop back in to take control of their character again. The transition between single and multiplayer modes is handled very naturally.
As far as balancing for abilities, obviously you have to even things out a bit. If Guy Gardner were exactly as powerful as he is in the TV show, he’d be an unstoppable God. So you make gameplay-improving adjustments like having him float and hover, instead of fully flying. And we weighted the characters’ abilities by how powerful they were, so the more decimating attacks and gadgets drain the player’s energy meter more quickly. Ultimately, the game is aimed at a younger audience, so we focused on providing the most enjoyable experience, rather than crushing the player under brutal difficulty.
Nrama: To what length was the show’s visual style replicated?
Tierney: Well, pretty much 100%. We used the exact same character models and animation techniques as the TV show. From the project’s inception, our goal was always to create what felt like a ‘playable cartoon.’ The backgrounds are also illustrated in the same style and interesting perspectives as the TV show. Where we did deviate, like with our 3D visual effects or 3D for background environments, it was done in order to make the game as visually impactful as possible. But yeah, authenticity was critical on this project, and WayForward worked very close with Warner Bros. Animation to ensure authenticity.
Nrama: Any surprises in the voice cast?
Tierney: The only surprise would be that we got everyone! The cartoon can be pretty star-studded at times, and I was surprised and ecstatic that we got everyone we wanted to reprise their roles, including Paul Reubens as Bat-Mite, Diedrich Bader as Batman, and R. Lee Ermey as Wildcat. All three of them turned in phenomenal performances. Tom Wilson’s Catman is also one of the highlights of our game, as is James Arnold Taylor’s Guy Gardner, and Will Friedle’s Blue Beetle.
Nrama: Why use the Guy Gardner Green Lantern and the Jamie Reyes Blue Beetle instead of their more well known or ‘classic’ incarnations?
Tierney: Anyone that’s kept up with the show knows how important Jaime Reyes is to Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He appears more than any of Batman’s other partners, and sort of acts as an entry point for the audience, because Jaime’s just as much a Batman fan as the rest of us.
In the same way, Guy Gardner has been showcased on the show more heavily than Hal Jordan. The cartoon is all about celebrating lesser known characters from the extended DC Universe, although I’m sure Guy wouldn’t appreciate hearing that. I’m also a big fan of the Green Lantern Corps comics from DC Comics, so that played a little into Guy’s selection. Ultimately, the show is at its most entertaining when Batman is teamed up with someone he can’t stand, and that’s definitely the case with Guy Gardner.
Nrama: How does the Nintendo DS version differ from the Wii, and how does Bat-Mite figure into it?
Tierney: The Wii and Nintendo DS versions of the game are completely unique adventures. They share some of the same bosses and heroes, but even those work differently in each version of the game. The Wii game is a story-heavy brawler, with roots in games like Double Dragon and Street Fighter. The DS game on the other hand is a more bite-sized platformer, influenced by games like Megaman X and Ninja Gaiden. We wanted to give the player a show-like experience with both titles, but keep the two products unique enough to be worth playing through both.
Gamers that pick up both games can also connect the two wirelessly to bring the mischievous Bat-Mite into the Wii game, controlling him with the Nintendo DS. This is one of the few examples of Wii-to-DS connectivity. In the Wii game, Bat-Mite is free to fly wherever he wants (or vanish), and can drop health, energy, anvils, and bombs. The latter two hurt both the heroes and villains, so it’s up to the player whether to be helpful to Batman and his partner, or annoying – just like Bat-Mite in the cartoon.Who do you most want to play as?