Batman Begins (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew



Outside of the horror genre, Batman is one of the more successful film franchises. While the last two outings were seen as a little too kitsch there's no denying that the first two Burton efforts still stand up today. The same is being said of this new 2005 version, which not only returns to the darker side of the Gotham crime fighter but like the recent Star Wars, it's also a prequel. Bruce Wayne is no stranger to the Gameboy and while the majority of these outings have been inspired by the original comic books, they've also been pretty varied in quality. I almost finished this introduction with something like 'another summer movie, another GBA game' and while it's true that this type of raw material often ends up being wasted I'm prepared to give this latest outing a fair chance.


Gameplay wise Batman Begins is very close in structure to Splinter Cell and each level can be approached in one of two different ways: all out combat or stealth. The latter is certainly the safer but requires far more thought and timing, which isn't always that easy. It is though, the only way to complete some of the latter levels where the design has been made a little too tough to extend longevity and as there's no health lying about here so every move has to be planned carefully. There's also the problem of the odd henchman being just off screen ready to mow you down with his machine gun as soon as you come into view. This is likely to split gamers as losing all your health usually means restarting the whole level which does become incredibly frustrating the tenth or eleventh time around.

It's not all about brawling (or hiding for that matter) and there are some puzzles thrown into the mix. Most of these involve locating switches and navigating lifts but there is the odd one that will have you scratching your head for some time. To help you in all of this you have your handy gadget belt but apart from your batarang you only have one of each so deploying them at the right moment is essential. Most of them are smoke and flash bombs but you can also whip up a short bat storm, which disorientates your foes and also looks rather cool. Finally all this is saved automatically at the end of each section and with three save slots there's even some room for your friends to have a go too.


While this could have been incredibly tricky due to the sheer number of moves at your disposal, the developers have aimed to make it as simple as possible thanks to a comprehensive tutorial on the second level. This includes just about everything you need to know in order to successfully complete the game so practise does indeed make perfect. On the more technical side of things the collision detection is pretty good, both in combat and general movement, although you will occasionally take a few hits or misjudge a jump simply because you've initiated one animated sequence of moves which needs to play out before starting another.


While we know that the GBA can (just about) handle a 3D platformer thanks to Atari's Asterix & Obelix it performs far better with the less complex 2D environments and there are few developers that know this better than Vicarious Visions. The first thing you'll notice is the absolutely outstanding animation especially on Batman whose cape appears to have a life of its own. The other characters are also well animated and while the backgrounds may be a little light for all you Dark Knight enthusiasts (especially if you've seen the film) they still do their job.


The soundtrack and sound effects are well above average although they do tend to blurt out of the GBA's tiny speakers regardless of what is happening on screen. This is most evident when you're attempting to sneak in and out of the shadows to avoid any combat with the patrolling henchmen and you have to stop yourself from 'shushing' the music.

Final comments

There's no doubting that Vicarious Visions have made a challenging and enjoyable game and if you've already seen the movie and saw yourself as a bit of a crime fighter this game really does deliver where many before have failed. This is mostly due to the clever fusion between combat and stealth, which works incredibly well and makes the whole experience feel much less linear. The complete omission of the Batmobile however, will disappoint fans of the movie as a few driving sections would have pleased just about every Batman fan especially the group of young men I overheard when leaving the cinema who were off to enquire where they could purchase one of those 'wonderful toys' at the earliest possible moment. That aside it's difficult not to recommend Batman Begins and it's definitely the best use of the license to date just don't expect anything too original.

Pro: Nice Animation
Con: No Batmobile!
Final score: 7.3


There are no comments yet on this article.
You could be the first one!

Post a new comment

To place a comment, you need to be logged in.
Register or log in.
Boxart of Batman Begins (Game Boy Advance)
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Action
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Electronic Arts