Despite the dozens of different imaginings Batman has endured in popular culture over the past 70 years, he's always remained the quintessential crime-fighting superhero.
Good news for Wii owners then, as The Brave and The Bold doesn't seek to supplant your perception of Batman with a newly-minted take on the legacy of Bruce Wayne. Rather, developers WayForward (A Boy and his Blob, Contra 4) have attempted to faithfully reproduce the comic styling of the television series bearing the same name and produced for the Cartoon Network.
More than just replicating the humour and madcap action from the TV series, the object is to extend the experience and open it up to all-comers. To that extent, the Wii provides the perfect platform, and handles the 2D side-scrolling co-op gameplay with ease.
Drawing from an extensive cast featuring such DC heroes as Green Lantern, Black Canary, Black Lightning and Booster Gold, the caped crusader can call upon either Robin or Guy Gardner to perform sidekick duties. The twosome must then brawl their way from platform to platform, and level to level to unlock additional content and battle for points supremacy.
The game adheres to a casual jump in-jump out mechanic, easily substituting AI for players where necessary, and therefore increasing the appeal to those with short attention spans.
Batman, Robin and Gardner have their own unique attacks, finishing moves, and most impressive of all - are rendered as hand-drawn animations. Add painted backdrops and cut-scenes that use the same stylised look, and the effect is complete - it's certainly one of the best graphical adaptations we've seen in a long time.
In order to deal to the waves of incoming rogues, Batman and his offspring can punch their way clear using a basic attack, or briefly waggle the remote for a strong attack. By combining the A and B buttons, you'll be able to grab the enemy, who can then be punched into submission. Leaping from ledge to ledge is accomplished by locating a suitable anchor point, and deploying your grapple. To protect our heroes from gravity, both Batman and Robin have the ability to gracefully fall distances - Batman by using his cape and gliding down, Robin by using his staff as a kind of helicopter.
The combat and level interaction is simple to learn for the younger fans, yet still manages to retain enough diversity to challenge more dexterous gamers. The inclusion of a coin-hunt mechanism (which appears to have been lifted from the LEGO Batman series) helps to keep the pace of the game fluid whilst simultaneously providing funds with which to unlock many of the games hidden characters.
Trademark humour abounds, as you would expect from this "Adam West" take on the Batman legacy. There's some genuinely hilarious dialogue exchanges, although as the game script was written by the TV series' screenwriter it's little wonder that everything works so harmoniously. Not only does the art direction reward Batman fans, if you're a Nintendo fan you'll be able to unlock Bat-Mite (voiced by Paul 'Pee-wee Herman' Reubens) by linking up the DS version of the game with the Wii.
Plenty on offer then for those on the lookout for a family-friendly side-scroller with a great sense of humour and some excellent animation. The Brave and the Bold will be released on September 10, so we'll bring you a full review around that time.