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Gaming Update: Batman: Arkham City | Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts Games | My Reviews 02 OCT 2013

A quick round-up of the latest games to worm themselves onto my XBOX console.

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

Batman: Arkham City is a 2011 action-adventure video game developed by Rocksteady Studios and released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it is the sequel to the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum and the second installment in the Batman: Arkham series.

Written by veteran Batman writer Paul Dini with Paul Crocker and Sefton Hill, Arkham City is based on the franchise’s long-running comic book mythos. In the game’s main storyline, Batman is incarcerated in Arkham City, a massive new super-prison enclosing the decaying urban slums of fictional Gotham City. He must uncover the secret behind the sinister scheme, “Protocol 10”, orchestrated by the facilities warden, Hugo Strange. The game’s leading characters are predominantly voiced by actors from the DC Animated Universe, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their roles as Batman and the Joker, respectively. The game is presented from the third-person perspective with a primary focus on Batman’s combat and stealth abilities, detective skills, and gadgets that can be used in both combat and exploration.

I bought Arkham City from the XBOX Online store for the ridiculously low price of R89 and seriously haven’t looked back since. I thoroughly enjoyed the original Arkham Asylum outing, and pleasingly this follow up does everything the original did, on a bigger scale, and in the process makes the experience even better than the first (plus, it doesn’t ask you to avoid daft plants – seriously, that was my only major gripe from the first game).

The visuals are outstanding, the voice acting superb, the story epic, but most important of all, the fantastically beautiful and rewarding free flow combat system continues to be as engaging as ever, despite the fact that when you look at it, fighting has been boiled down to a two button system! Incredible.

A definite recommendation to anyone who enjoys action games, and even more so if you are already a fan of the Bat!

batman arkham city game screenshot

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arkham_City

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008)

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is an action-adventure/vehicle construction/platformer video game developed by Rare and published by Microsoft Game Studios.

The game takes place following the conclusion of Banjo-Tooie, in which Gruntilda’s body is destroyed by Banjo and Kazooie. Eight years have passed since Gruntilda’s defeat. While Banjo and Kazooie are eating pizza, playing video games and listening to the radio, they discover Gruntilda’s detached head returning to Spiral Mountain. They are about to fight when they are stopped by Lord of Games (L.O.G.). He attempts to settle the conflict between the two by devising a series of worlds and challenges. He uses his powers to give Gruntilda an artificial body and to restore the duo’s physical fitness, but not their moves from previous games.

L.O.G. transports the characters to Showdown Town, his headquarters, and starts the contest. The winner would be set to own Spiral Mountain; the loser must endure eternal hardship at L.O.G.’s video game factory. While Banjo and Kazooie seek to win by completing the challenges, Gruntilda uses her powers and abilities to try to stop the duo. An army of mechanical Gruntbots also assist the witch in her goal.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts landed up on my console courtesy of the curent Mirosoft XBOX Games for Gold promotion, and so I gave it a quick spin to see what it’s all about. Now if you were hoping for a traditional platformer adventure game in the spirit of the earlier games, then you would be sorely disappointed – instead the game is more of a tricky driving adventure game, awarding those more mechanically minded in the process. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and does make for a fairly engaging experience as you race around trying to collect parts to put together a vehicle you think will be able to access a particular area for you.

Lots of silly (if misplaced and often a little too adult for the intended child market) gags makes for a light-hearted, brain-teasing, colourful romp, but I have to say, I didn’t spend too much time behind the controller on this one – strictly for kids, or if you have to, for playing with your kids.

banjo kazooie nuts and bolts xbox game

Related Link: Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banjo-Kazooie:_Nuts_%26_Bolts

Review: Batman: The Animated Series (Volume 2) My Reviews 15 DEC 2011

The 1990’s produced one of the best animated television shows ever to grace the Silver Screen, namely Batman: The Animated Series, produced by legendary comic book figures like Alan Burnett, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for example.

It has been described as one of the closest non comic book adaptations of the Batman mythos, won numerous awards for its writing which was far more mature and thought-provoking than other animated shows of the time, and introduced its iconic visual style, dubbed Dark Deco by its creators.

Volume 2 in this DC Comics Classic Collection packs 28 episodes in over four discs, and as a result you are treated to a nice variety of Batman material versus a number of his greatest foes, as well as his interactions with the newly introduced Dick Grayson as Robin. Unfortunately, as it simply was done back in those days, each episode is self-contained with no overarching story or sometimes even real continuity to speak of, which does detract a little when watching it today, surrounded by the advances in writing for today’s animated fare. Nevertheless, the stories are compelling, action-packed and for the most part, thoroughly enjoyable, meaning an absolute toe-curling thrill for existing fans of the Bat.

Visually of course, Batman: The Animated Series stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of distinctive style, thanks to its art deco visuals, simple lines and very dark tone. However, it must be noted that its approach to place the series in a sort of a timelessness 1940’s-like bubble really does age it 20 years down the line, and unfortunately both the style and the animated objects look pretty dated and thus a little difficult to fully enjoy. Technology in particular suffers, with things like computers, servers and even telephones looking really silly.

Aurally however, Batman: The Animated Series still comes across as a powerhouse amongst animated television. With fantastic voice work from the likes of Kevin Conroy as the Batman/Bruce Wayne, Mark Hamil as the Joker, Bob Hastings as James Gordon and Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman, and a fully scored orchestral soundtrack to back them up, Batman: The Animated Series sets the benchmark for how a rich, mature animated television show should sound.

In summary, Batman: The Animated Series is quite dated to watch nowadays, especially in the visuals department, but to be fair, you have to keep in mind that this series is basically 20 years old now! Once you have that notion in your head, you really can sit back and enjoy what truly is one of the best animated American television series ever to be produced, with strong writing, a distinct and enjoyable visual style, and a great musical score with voice acting to complement.

And then of course we mustn’t forget that iconic opening sequence and theme music!

It remains enjoyable and well worth picking up if you are a comic book fan or in particular, a Batman universe fan. As for the mileage for people not falling into either of those two categories – well I can’t say for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the marked age of the show will count against it in their eyes.

Oh well, their loss! :)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_The_Animated_Series

Review: The Batman/Superman Movie (1998) Animation | My Reviews 07 APR 2011

What do you do if you have one story broken over three episodes from a hit 1997 television show? You merge them into one movie and make more money by selling them direct to DVD of course!

And thus The Batman/Superman Movie was born.

Grabbing episodes 29, 30 and 31 from 1997 Season 2 of Superman: The Animated Series, the story titled World’s Finest (Parts I – III) in its original form, is penned by Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, and directed by Toshihiko Masuda.

The story involves a near bankrupt Joker hatching a scheme to replace the funds blocked thanks to the Batman’s Gotham activities, by stealing a large status made of Kryptonite and travelling over to Metropolis with the aim of striking a deal with Lex Luthor in order to kill Superman in exchange for a billion dollars.

But as luck would have it, Bruce Wayne is currently in partnership with LexCorp over a new robotics project, meaning that Batman too finds himself in the unfamiliar Metropolis, setting up the first ever meeting between the Man of Steel and the Bat, as they take on the combined might of two of their most cunning foes.

As with the writing for all the DC Animated Universe series’, the story is adventure-laden, packed with snappy dialogue, one-liners and puns, not to mention the non-stop action that this time around features two of DC’s biggest attractions in tights.

And the clever little feuding over Lois Lane between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne is a particularly nice touch.

It is a thoroughly enjoyable, classic Batman and Superman story, animated with the distinctly stylized big chin and simple lines that came with all the original DC Animated universe fare, backed up of course with the all important voice work of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as The Joker, Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Dana Delany as Lois Lane and of course, Tim Daly as Superman. And needless to say, everything is rounded off with a full orchestral score as per usual.

Thoroughly enjoyable, classic Batman and Superman action that all fanboys should be able to enjoy, making it well worth picking up from the DVD store, even if just to relive some of that animated nostalgia coming out of the late 90s when superheroes were finally done right!

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