This Switch port’s quality of Arkham Knight would make even the Riddler scratch his head.
Batman: Arkham Trilogy
Developer: Rocksteady Games
Publisher: WB Games
Release Date: 12/1/2023
Batman: Arkham Trilogy is mostly a fine package, but sadly Batman: Arkham Knight’s awful performance sours what could have been a stellar collection.
A Nintendo Switch review copy was not provided by the publisher.
Batman: Arkham Trilogy is now available for the Nintendo Switch.
The Batman: Arkham games are truly special. When Batman: Arkham Asylum was first released it was absolutely mind-blowing. I remember picking it up from the game store the night it was released and firing it up on my PlayStation 3, not having a clue what I was in store for.
I must have played it all night and I just couldn’t stop playing. In a sea of superhero games, this one just stood head and shoulders above the rest with the amount of love and detail that the developers, Rocksteady Studios, put into it.
Not to mention what an absolute joy it was having the legends Mark Hamill and the late great Kevin Conroy returning to their roles from Batman: The Animated Series as The Joker and Batman, respectively.
The follow-up title in the series, Batman: Arkham City, pushed the envelope even further with how expansive its vision was and how much more it added to all of the incredible ideas that had been presented within its predecessor.
Batman: Arkham Knight brought the conclusion to the story that Asylum and City had started. It was big, bold, dark, and bittersweet all at once. Some design choices make the title stumble a bit overall, but it is still a great game in its own right.
All of my fears came true
One thing is for sure though: the Arkham games are still damn fun to play. Being able to fight thugs both head-on or from the shadows, solve crimes, and face off against some of the biggest and baddest villains from Batman’s Rogues Gallery is just a dream come true. Although these games are older, they’re worth playing through now, especially if you haven’t before.
Batman: Arkham Asylum takes place solely within the asylum itself, where The Joker has broken free after being briefly captured and is planning something sinister that Batman has to put a stop to.
Batman: Arkham City is like the Escape from New York of the series, with Batman being trapped in the slums of Gotham where a large swath of the city has been turned into a giant prison. The stakes are definitely raised here and it doesn’t help that Batman is infected with a virus that will kill him if he doesn’t find a cure fast.
Batman: Arkham Knight takes things up to 11, where the entire city of Gotham has been evacuated and Batman has to stop Scarecrow and the mysterious Arkham Knight before it’s too late and Gotham is truly lost.
All of these titles take the previous installment’s premise and build on its foundation with each game.
Batman starts out with very few gadgets at the beginning of each game and unlocks more as he progresses. For example, batarangs that can be used to knock down enemies or hit switches that Batman can’t physically reach, a batclaw to grapple up to high areas or even disarm baddies, a tool used to hack into doors, or even an explosive foam that can take down walls. The list goes on and on.
Listen to me…there ain’t no bat!
Batman also gets into plenty of scraps with goons throughout the games and has to use his martial arts mastery to beat them into submission. These encounters generally start with enemies only having access to baseball bats and pipes but become far more deadly when they start equipping themselves with stun guns, riot shields, and knives.
When they start pulling out the heavier weaponry, Batman has to use stealth to neutralize the threat instead of fighting them out in the open. He can use cover from up high to stalk the thugs one by one and choke them out or give them a good punch to the back of the head.
Rocksteady Studios does an excellent job of raising the stakes ever so slightly with new obstacles for you that keep all of this from getting stale.
Sometimes enemies will plant explosives on the perches that Batman uses to stalk from above, or have alarms around their necks that sound when they are knocked out, or maybe they put on thermal goggles so they can see Batman’s heat signature in the shadows. He can’t be the only one with all of the wonderful toys.
Taking down bad guys is just a fraction of the gameplay on display here though. Batman also needs to solve crimes or even use forensics to locate hostages or villains. Batman: Arkham Asylum has only a small bit of variety with these elements, but Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Knight expands on them a lot.
I don’t have to save you
All three of these games have an incredible amount of objectives to tackle. So if the main story isn't what you feel like doing at the moment, you can always explore and complete different tasks like finding collectibles, solving riddles, or finishing side missions.
Gameplay performance in both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City felt on par with their original releases on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. There were some frame dips here and there, with an occasional short pause. I also had one crash, so it wasn’t perfect.
Most of the time this wasn’t an issue, but the last few hours of Batman: Arkham Asylum had more frequent dips. This was by no means a deal breaker, but I did notice it.
Batman: Arkham Knight, however, is a completely different story. It frankly looks really jittery and blurry. It often feels just as poor as the rough visuals. The driving sections with the Batmobile felt abhorrent, with frequent frame pacing issues and the game at times freezing up for several seconds.
I couldn’t really bring myself to play it for long periods of time due to how much it hurt my eyes and just how disorienting the problems could be. I hope that there can be a patch to help this, but I’m not sure if it’s possible due to the limitations of the Switch's hardware.
Thankfully, I will say that the other two titles were definitely fully playable and saved the overall review score. Batman: Arkham Asylum was the only game directly on the game’s cartridge, so Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Knight had to be downloaded. The latter of the two is so big that you need a microSD card just to do so, which wasn’t worth it in the end.
Not the hero we want or deserve
Performance issues aside, this release has quite a bit of meat on its bones with having all of the DLC for every game included.
This means a lot of cool Batman skins, additional campaign content, additional challenge maps and characters, and even items that were exclusive to certain consoles.
The downside is that you can’t buy these games separately digitally at the moment, so it’s $60 for both the physical and digital versions, as a complete package. That means that you are paying for a game in the collection that’s not really playable.
I would have to say that if you really want to play the first two Arkham titles on the go, then this is still a great option for that, but I would definitely wait for a sale.