Kids Play – Lego Batman

One of the joys of being a gaming parent is being able to share the love of games with your kids. We started with games aimed squarely at their age group – Dora, Wii Party, Carnival et al – but this quickly evolved into games that I could play with them – Mario Kart, Super Mario, Sonic – before finally they came to replay some of the games that I had already completed and enjoyed.

After 30+ years of gaming, it is easy to become jaded. You’ve seen it, done it and long since grown out of the character specific t-shirt. But the kids have no such prejudices, every experience a new opportunity to try something new.

So join me then in this voyage of discovery as my brood embark on a series of gaming challenges, ofering reviews and insights as only children can.

Factfile
Developed by:Traveller’s Tales
Published by:Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Released:2008
Format played:Wii

 

Ruminations

The first Lego Batman game and the fifth in the Lego series following three Star Wars titles and the blocky adventures of Indiana Jones. Batman was the first of the Lego games to be built around an original story, rather than reimagining a classic narrative.

Structurally Batman follows the template established in the earlier games. You smash, build and battle your way through a number of stages in story mode, unlocking characters and vehicles to play through again in free mode. Collecting Lego studs lets you buy upgrades and power ups whilst 100% completion relies on maxing out Lego studs and hunting down and collecting every last piece of minikit hidden fiendishly across each chapter.

As it is not based on any singular film, Lego Batman is free to use it’s characters as they please. You play as Batman and Robin, tasked with defending Gotham from a veritable rogues gallery of villains, from series staples like The Joker and Penguin to the more obscure likes of Killer Croc and Man Bat.

Whilst Lego Star Wars featured blasters and Force sensitive characters, Batman of course has no such perks. Being a billionaire crime fighter though, he comes tooled up with a range of suits that give him access to new abilities. These include a glider suit to fly across short gaps, bat bombs to explode otherwise indestructible items and a sonic suit to destroy glass. Robin meanwhile can upgrade to metal sunction boots to climb up to new areas, a vaccum suit to pick up Lego pieces and a diving suit to explore underwater.

Lego Batman was released across all the main platforms in 2008. As was typical for us at the time, the wife and I 100% completed it on release. But now it’s time to hand over to a new generation of gamers.

Meet The Team

Here to guide you through the gaming landscape are these three hardy adventurers; Leah & Grace (age 7) and Aiden (age 4).

Let’s Play

So, what’s the game about?

Leah: Batman and fighting.

Grace: Defeating the bad guys.

Aiden: Batman. You smash things. And build. Smash and build. I smashed up that silly man!

Who is your favourite character?

Leah: Batman, because he is funny.

Grace: Robin, because he is funny and his costumes are nice, especially the swimming one.

Aiden: Batman & Robin

What is your favourite Bat-suit?

Leah: The glider, because he can fly.

Grace: The glider and swimming suit.

Aiden: Diving and suction. Diving because you go all the way to the bottom (of the water). Suction becuase you can climb things that are metal.

What do you do in the levels?

Leah: Fight. Save people. You have fun.

Grace: We destroy boxes of Lego, build cars and stands and stuff.

Aiden: Fight and build things.

Who is your favourite villain?

Leah: The mermaid girl (Poison Ivy).

Grace: Poison Ivy, because she has green hair.

Aiden: The Joker.

What is the best bit about Lego Batman?

Leah: The suits. They’re fun and funny.

Grace: Destroying stuff with my bat bombs.

Aiden: The suits.

What didn’t you like?

Leah: The bad guys. They’re mean.

Grace: Nothing.

Aiden: I like everything.

Do you recommend Lego Batman for other children to play?

All: Yes.

Parent’s View

The early Lego games were a delightful combination of cartoon visuals, easy to understand gameplay but with a fiendish level of design to test those seeking 100% completion.

Whilst the kids had fun playing, it was noticable how often they got frustrated. Part of this seems to stem from the Mario influence where they are used to rushing through to the end of the level as fast as possible. Here they had to retrain their brains to slow down, look for visual clues and use their initiative to try new things. This regularly led to periods of frustration, both for them as players and me as the watching parent. Visual clues, for instance when unlocking a new suit, were all too brief and often ignored, whilst at 4 years old, Aiden had no chance of understanding them.

Vehicle levels proved particularly irksome. They were often hard to see, especially Robin’s bike, and the kids struggled to understand what to do and where to go. Similarly some of the boss fights, which complete each chapter, proved difficult for them to grasp, indeed the solution to the Penguin chapter eluding me for some time, despite having finished it many years ago.

Ironically it was Aiden, the youngest at 4, who seemed to enjoy himself the most, amused by simply bashing stuff up, driving in vehicles or laughing at the yelp Robin makes as he chucks him off the edge of a cliff for the umpteenth time.

Verdict

A classic family adventure. Fun for adults, kids will enjoy it too but to reduce the frustration levels for both of you, they will need some guidance for some of those tricker sections.

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