Batman: Arkham Asylum makes it sound like the prison players explored with Batman was the star of the show, but in reality Warner Bros has always given the spotlight to Batman's rogues gallery. In both previous Arkham games, Rocksteady and WB Games looked to pack as many heinous murderers and thieves in as possible, and Arkham Origins is no different. Tomorrow, Friday October 25th, players will once again have their Bat-skills put to the test as a laundry list of enemies have all come to Gotham to collect a bounty on Batman's head. Let's look at the enemies Batman has brought to justice in the past (or... rather... those he will bring to justice after Arkham Origins). These prequel timelines are tricky....
WARNING: Spoilers abound ahead. If you haven't played Arkham Asylum or City, do so now. They're both great games and Bat-fans will wet themselves over the sheer volume of fan service in each.
Ra's Al Ghul - Batman: Arkham City
Arkham City's twisting plot frequently intersects Batman's destiny with Ra's Al Ghul's, but punching will always lead to a swift end for the leader of the League of Assassin's. Al Ghul disrupts the player's sense of control on the situation by adding clay fighters and teleporting around the level. This boss presents a master class in dodging repeated attacks. Fighting Big Ra's could get annoying on harder difficulties, but it's nothing for true students of the dark knight.
Bane - Batman: Arkham Asylum
My favorite thing about Bane in Arkham Asylum was that we got to see the character's transformation from puny weakling to massive hulking beast. That's all thanks to the Unreal Engine, licensed by Rocksteady for their Arkham games. Obviously the engine has been modded from Gears of War's third-person shooting mechanics, but this character transformation is still cool to watch. Wracking up a huge combo in this boss battle felt awesome too and it wasn't hard given the damage Bane does to other thugs if you toss a Batarang and blind Bane during a charge.
The Riddler - Arkham City
While Arkham Asylum introduced the Riddler's sadistic game of hide-and-seek collectibles, Arkham City refined it and expanded the trophy-hunt to every corner of the new super-prison. Arkham City also added a slow chase, allowing the player to draw closer and closer to the annoying villain clad in green as they mopped up more and more trophies. Finally taking down the mouthy bastard was a long journey, but it was damn satisfying too.
Dr. Hugo Strange - Arkham City
If you've played any of the Arkham games, you'll know that all-out hand-to-hand combat isn't all there is to Batman's campaign against evil and darkness. Sometimes our hero gets to sneak around and take out thugs from the shadows. Hugo Strange's towering view over Arkham City put Batman to the ultimate "Predator" test. Strange's men were heavily armed, highly wound, and ready to kill the Dark Knight. It just made it that much more satisfying to dispatch them and capture Strange.
Killer Croc - Arkham Asylum
Underneath Arkham Asylum, swimming in all that super villain… waste… is Killer Croc, ready to eat Batman. You could navigate Croc's waters by crouching and leaving him undisturbed, but eventually something sets him off. Admire at this specimen's massive size and quick speed, but be sure to come prepared in proper bat-fashion: a swift Batarang to the electro-shock colar will deal with Croc nicely.
Mad Hatter - Arkham City
Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter, has a really cool boss fight in Arkham City because, if you don't scale the roof tops and inspect every clue, you might never fight him. Hatter's twisted arena spins and disorients your combat flow and Batman's face is twisted into a sadistic looking rabbit visage, but putting bat-knuckles into this guy's face is too much fun to pass up.
Clayface - Arkham City
I told you there'd be spoilers in this list! Arkham City's big twist is that there are two Jokers running around on the streets of Gotham. At least this final boss fight is more believable than a Titan'd up Joker as we saw in Arkham Asylum. The second joker in Arkham City is in fact Clayface and players have to use the fancy freeze tech Batman got from Penguin and Mr. Freeze to break off pieces of the monstrosity. This was one massive, explosive boss battle and a great way to finish Arkham City.
Poison Ivy - Arkham Asylum
Despite her skimpy costume, Poison Ivy can really kick Batman's ass during her confrontation with our hero in Arkham Asylum. Poison Ivy gives you a chance to battle and fight a large scale enemy as Batman. It can be annoying to constantly toss batarangs and dodge attacks, but in the end Batman uses his explosive gel to blast Ivy out of her protective pod.
Mr. Freeze - Arkham City
On harder difficulties, it's difficult to think of a better Batman boss battle than the one against Mr. Freeze in Arkham City. Villains in Arkham City seem larger than life and Mr. Freeze is no different. He's got a full battle suit with a freeze gun and lots of armor. Suit sensors can prevent you from successfully defeating Freeze too, but this boss battle is great for one key reason. It forces you to try different tactics and it always reacts to what you do smartly. Harder difficulties really stretch your creativity as you'll need to use every possible takedown to end Mr. Freeze.
Scarecrow - Arkham Asylum
The Scarecrow confrontations in Batman: Arkham Asylum aren't just awesome, transportive levels that encircle the player with layers of heavy Batman mythos. They're also some of the best "Boss Battles" (Boss Stages is probably the better descriptor) I've ever played in any video game. They take everything experienced thus far in the game and playfully twist and torment both Batman and the player. Scarecrow's nightmares turn Batman's psyche against the player and make it part of the gameplay. By the time Batman gives Crane a knuckle sandwich, you'll be enraptured with Bruce's tragedy.
Batman's boss battles don't end with the Arkham-verse and there are tons of retro Batman games now that the character has continued to grow with the medium. Which boss is your favorite?
The super villain onslaught will continue in Batman: Arkham Origins, out on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, and PC tomorrow, Friday, October 25th.