I think most Batman fans would love for DC to find a way to retcon the Caped Crusader’s history to tell a story of the Dark Knight without the silver tongued teen sidekick, Robin (this could possibly become a reality come late August with the DC reboot). Christopher Nolan refuses to acknowledge the Boy Wonder in his films, and it was thought that game developer Rocksteady would do the same with their Batman games until they announced that Robin (Tim Drake) would be a downloadable character for Batman: Arkham City, playable only in the game’s new challenge mode.
The above image is our first look at the Arkham City version of Batman’s partner, and I could not be more pleased with it. Robin sports a cool armor costume similar to Batman’s, a sleek shaved head that screams soldier instead of sidekick, and a really neat bo staff. The image is impressive (even though it does somewhat remind me of Chris O’Donnell), but as long as this Robin plays more like a silent ninja and less like a one-two punch twerp, spouting out lame quips, then this could be the Robin remake that fans have always asked for.
Video game developers have always looked at Robin as an afterthought in most Batman games, which in some ways is understandable since publishers are usually trying to sell a Batman game, not a Robin game, but I think huge opportunities are being missed. Batman: Arkham City will sadly offer no co-op gameplay, which is disappointing, but, like Rocksteady c0-founder Seftin Hill has said, they want to focus more on delivering a great story through the single player campaign, and developing a co-op mode would have taken away from that. That reasoning works for me. It’s just sad knowing that friends wont be able to put the Dynamic Duo together to take on Joker thugs.
But honestly, who has ever wanted to play as Robin? Wasn’t there always an argument about who was gonna be first player and play as Batman, and second player as Robin? Not for me it wasn’t! I’ve always been a proud Fan Boy Wonder. As a child, I had spent countless hours playing as Batman on the NES and the many other Batman games released in the early 90s, but when I opened The Adventures of Batman and Robin that Christmas morning in 1994, I was ecstatic to play as Robin for the very first time, even if the game was extremely difficult to a fault.
As Robin became more prevalent in media with Batman: The Animated Series and in the Joel Schumacher films, we saw more Boy Wonder in the video games. Batman Forever for the SNES and Genesis is without a doubt one of the lowest of lows in Batman game history, but Batman Forever: The Arcade Game is a great beat-em-up, and not the first time two players could unite as the Dynamic Duo, but it was the first truly satisfying Batman and Robin experience. Later came Batman & Robin for the PlayStation, which was a game full of heart, but lacking execution, that allowed you to switch between Batman, Robin, or Batgirl in an all single player experience.
The racing/shooting game Batman: Gotham City Racers featured Robin and Nightwing, along with Batgirl and a list of rogues as playable vehicles. Robin made a cameo in Batman: Dark Tomorrow, and was even supposed to be an unlockable playable character after completing the game according to the strategy guide, but unfortunately, upon completion there is no option anywhere to play as Robin.
Batman: Rise of Sin-Tzu and Batman: The Brave and the Bold offer decent Batman and Robin co-op, but the legendary pair are at their finest with Lego Batman. In my opinion, Lego Batman was the best Batman game created until Batman: Arkham Asylum. And finally, Robin was featured in a game free of Batman with Teen Titans, based on the Cartoon Network series.
While it’s likely we’ll never get that solo Robin: The Boy Wonder video game, being an afterthought in Batman: Arkham City isn’t that bad. I’m just glad Rocksteady isn’t ignoring Robin in their game universe, because ignoring Robin means ignoring a huge part of the Batman lore, and that’s just wrong. But I’m excited to see what Rocksteady has in store for their Tim Drake. I think it’s intriging that they chose Tim Drake over Dick Grayson. Does this mean a possible Nightwing playable character for Arkham City‘s challenge mode? I hope so!
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