Super Types

August 26, 2010

The Comics Console: Batman: Dark Tomorrow

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Written by: andrewhurst
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Kids these days are sooo spoiled with their comic book based video games that are actually good. I remember when I grew up if you wanted to play a Batman game, you had to make sacrifices. There was no great Arkham Asylum-like Batman experience for us to play out. The only REALLY good Batman game was Batman Returns for the Super Nintendo, and you had to be a man to beat it. We didn’t have auto saves or hard drives or memory cards. Just a wide open afternoon, a case of Mountain Dew, and undying determination.

But even after the Super Nintendo’s prime, the Batman games kept coming, and undying determination was still your best bet in finishing the game, but for all the wrong reasons. In 2003, Kemco released what should have been the ultimate Batman video game experience of its time, but what we got was one of the worst games of that year. Hell, even the “Exclusive Limited Edition Comic Inside” sucked.

Batman: Dark Tomorrow

Publisher: Kemco
Developer: Kemco
Released: March 25, 2003
Platforms: GameCube, Xbox
ESRB: Teen

Just because I say Dark Tomorrow is one of the worst games of 2003 doesn’t mean I hate the game, because nothing could be farther from the truth. I LOVE Batman: Dark Tomorrow. But sadly, Kemco kind of rushed the development process, as most developers do with properties like this, and gave us a very poor gameplay experience.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this game’s problems…let’s just start with Batman himself. Obviously you’ll be playing as the caped crusader through the game’s six hour campaign (and that’s not a straight six hour of play, that’s compensating for the numerous times you’ll be dying in the game), and right off the “bat” you get an idea of how dreadful the controls are. Batman moves like a roided up C-3PO, and the over all unresponsive controls don’t help much. Your very first task in the game is to jump and grapple over rooftops to the top of the GCPD headquarters. A simple task for the Goddamn Batman, right? Not so much in this game. You’ll earn about your first handful of Game Overs in this first mission alone, and if you still decide to keep playing after that, well, expect things to only go farther down hill.

Even simple movements like stepping onto a crate require you to be in an exact position in order to be performed effectively. I remember when I first played through this game in 2003, I got stuck behind a fence for days, and I actually went and bought the strategy guide to figure out where I was suppose to go to advance. Turns out I was too close to the fence when trying to jump over it.

The camera angles only add to the frustration. You have zero control over where the camera is placed, and it has the same weird angles like the first few Resident Evil games. These kinds of camera angles work well for a survival horror game like Resident Evil when trying to build tension in the moment, however, in Dark Tomorrow, the camera actually works against you like some kind of omniscient super villain you can never defeat. If you engaged in battle with a street thug and got caught in a position where two camera angles switched and suddenly you’re trying to fight one guy from two different perspectives, your death is pretty much guaranteed.

It would be a lot simpler if the controls didn’t change every time your camera did. Example: if the camera is set behind Batman, you press up on the D-Pad to move him forward, but if the camera in the next area is set facing Batman, now you must press down on the D-Pad to move him forward. If only Bruce had a gadget in his utility belt that could take care of erratic cameras….

Fortunately, the healthy amount of gadgets is one of the few fun parts about this game. Immediately you’re equipped with Batarangs, a grappling hook, night vision goggles, smoke bombs, Bat-Cuffs, and a universal tool that unlocks doors and has other simple uses. If you select the Batarangs, you switch to a first-person view with a crosshairs to aim your shot (because aiming at anything with these camera angles is impossible), and your Bat-Cuffs are used you keep thugs and henchmen from getting back up after being beat down.

Sneaky sneaky

Other cool qualities (that aren’t exactly good when compared to the typical standard of good in video games, just less painful than everything else) are the game’s awesome list of villains to face. Mr. Freeze, Black Mask, Killer Croc, the Joker, Ra’s Al Ghoul, and more all show up in the extremely basic plot. That plot being that crime is out of control in Gotham and Batman must do all he can to stop it…who needs Paul Dini or Grant Morrison, right?

The voice acting is passable, the in-game graphics aren’t great for 2003, but the cut-scene graphics are pretty nice. The environments are actually pretty nice, filled with junk and interesting tid-bits. Music is bleh, but I love the ending credits song, even though it’s absolutely out of place in a Batman game. But you’ll actually have to beat the game yourself to enjoy more details on that.

The best part of the game is that in the strategy guide and even in the instruction booklet, it says that after completion of the game Robin and Batgirl become playable, but I’ve finished the game twice and have never unlocked any new characters. And don’t even wonder about multiplayer or co-op, because there is none. Oh, and if for some reason you decide to give this game a try, the PlayStation 2 version of the game was canceled, and there is no update to play it on an Xbox 360, and I don’t blame them for not adding one.

Ultimately, even though this game is far far faaar from decent, I really appreciate the idea, even if the execution came up short. I was a die hard Batman fan when the game released in 2003, and I’m still one today, and this game will always have a special place in my heart and in my collection. But you’re still better off playing Batman Returns on the Super Nintendo.

For more segments of The Comics Console, click here!

Andrew Hurst



  1. Kristin

    OK, first of all…that camera angle thing you’re talking about, where it changes what direction you have to push on the D-Pad to move the character…that’s true about every game EVER. That’s difficult to complain about when it happens in a lot of games.

    Two, if someone wants to play this game, all they’d need is a Wii, since you can play any GameCube game on the Wii.

  2. Hudson

    What about “Batman” for the NES? Hard as hell but fun to play. And the music kicked ass.

  3. @ Kristin Haha it’s very easy to complain about with this game. I know what you’re saying, lots of other games have used this kind of camera angle, but in lots of other games it tends to work and not be befungled with the already stiff and slow controls. Play the game yourself and you’ll see.

    Also, I’m pretty sure anyone reading this article already knows GC games are playable on the Wii, but they may not have know about the lack of PS2 version or 360 update, which is why I mentioned those.

  4. Twitter Trackbacks…

  5. lol @ “sneaky sneaky”

  6. […] of this game’s problems, it’s still a much better Batman experience than 2003′s Batman: Dark Tomorrow by […]

  7. […] prime and much too difficult for the modern era of gamers, and the most recent Batman video game, Batman: Dark Tomorrow, while filled with great intentions, was hardly playable by most […]

  8. […] Though The Man of Steel‘s style comes from the comics, the story doesn’t pull from anything specific, but still works well for a Superman game. Basically, Lex Luthor has come across a serious bit of Brainiac tech, and B13 comes back to Earth to reclaim it, leaving Superman no other choice but to intervene in the shoving match between his two greatest foes. Though a simple set up, the story does have its many twists and turns, and was even penned by current WildStorm editor, Scott Peterson, who would also go on to write the story for Batman: Dark Tomorrow. […]

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