Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate Wasn’t Very Metroid-like When I Played It

By Robert Ward . September 9, 2013 . 2:38pm

Tucked away in a small corner of Nintendo’s Pokémon gaming lounge were two Black 3DS XLs, each with a Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate demo fired up and ready to play. For a time, I couldn’t decide whether or not the small demo-station wasn’t getting a lot of attention because it stood in the shadow of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, if people were pleasantly surprised by the Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse demo on the way over, or if PAX goers just plain weren’t interested in the game.


The best way to test the theory was, of course, to try the game out.


The demo featured just about everything you’d expect from a Batman video game: hopping across buildings, fighting thugs, playful banter with flirtatious cat burglars—the works. The animated cutscenes that serve to preface your missions are reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker in that they are hand-drawn, comic-book style intermissions from the primary gameplay. If you’ve seen the teaser trailer for the game, you’ll know what to expect from the demo.



What that same trailer probably failed to deliver, though, was that the game fits into an awkward niche somewhere between on-rails exploration augmented by quick-time events and stealthy, strategic combat. For the most part, you advance through a level by moving right. You’ll occasionally come to places where you need to use the grappling hook to move upward, or glide across buildings, but all in all, Blackgate seems to forgo exploration in favor of reproducing its predecessor’s focus on stealthy combat.


The demo took breaks from scaling buildings and chasing cat burglars by beating a wide assortment of threats, from villainous henchmen to private security teams. Combat functions pretty much the same as it did in previous iterations—you hit X to attack and Y to counterattack or block. You chain these together to create combos. If they have guns, you’ll have to pick them off one by one with silent takedowns (activated by pressing L and A behind an enemy) or just sneak past them all together.


At your disposal is your typical Batman arsenal. Batarangs, grappling hooks, and… oh—my favorite part of the entire demo!—detective mode.


On the bottom screen, there is an icon that lets you enter detective mode. This will turn the entire screen a different color, and allow you to investigate objects by moving a highlighted circle using, well, the Circle Pad. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting, but in execution, it’s really fun, and the stereoscopic effect of the 3DS works wonders here. It reminded me of Metroid Prime’s scanning system, although that’s where the comparisons to Metroid end.


The demo ended in a showdown with Catwoman, who I was apprehending due to her involvement in stealing highly sensitive data from a large corporation. The height of the battle was a series of quick-time event blocks and counter attacks you had to perform in order to pacify her. The only thing the caped crusader seems to be content in hurting is the city budget (ripping every vent off of every duct in every building in Gotham is probably pretty expensive).


The Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita, both of which are getting this game, are an odd home for Batman. It’s entirely possible that there’s much more to Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate than what was shown at PAX, but for now, it feels a lot like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate. Whether or not that’s a good thing, I’ll leave to you.

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  • TheExile285

    Eh, I’m still hyped. Its BATMAN!!

    • Sardorim

      I said that til New52…

      Still want my Black Bat – Cassandra Cain!

      • ThunderGod_Cid

        Obviously you haven’t read Court of Owls, Death of the Family, or (currently) Year Zero arcs because those are some damn good new52-Batman stories.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Indeed. Snyder’s been killing it.

    • ThunderGod_Cid

      Batman + 2D Metroid/Castlevania = SOLD

  • Tom_Phoenix

    “The height of the battle was a series of quick-time event blocks…”

    “…but for now, it feels a lot like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate.”

    Well, that’s all I needed to hear to know how this game will turn out.

    • Zero

      I don’t see why the vita version isn’t like the console version. It has the power for it. I don’t see why developers don’t take advantage of the vita and 3ds power/features instead of making them the same.

  • Juan Manuel M. Suárez


  • Oh dear God, Mirror of Fate? I went from casual interest to “Hm, that doesn’t sound fun” to outright revulsion.

    I thought these guys knew what they were doing and this game had good buzz? Is Mirror of Fate what people want these days? Not me.

    Love how this and Mirror of Fate are heralded as these great “2D-style” games. Ugh.

    • Göran Isacson

      Ha ha, yeaah that name worked pretty well to make me hesitant as well. Mirror of Fate and I… well, it’s not like we HATED each other but we didn’t get along. No passionate love affair, not even a little spark. Just awkwardness, all around.

      • I loved Symphony of the Night, so many before it, and the GBA/DS games after it (but not the console ones), and Dracula X Chronicles. I knew it was a western dev this time, but everyone kept saying “It’s still Castlevania, and 2D! Just done with 3D graphics.”

        So, I downloaded the Mirror of Fate demo with great excitement! And it was with great disgust that I played it. Ugh. God of War plus I don’t even know what. Castlevania was the last thing it felt like. :(

        So that was that for me. And the sad thing is, it probably sold better than any of the excellent GBA/DS/PSP Castlevanias before it, at least outside of Japan. :(

        • Göran Isacson

          I actually don’t know how much it sold, but considering that we’ve seen very few people talk about it since it may have flown under the radar saleswise. But yeah, the action in that game was… not quite up to par. The whole thing was just so mediocre, really.

          • Depressing :( I wish Konami of Japan would give us another 2D Castlevania.

  • Richard N

    Honestly the gameplay trailers aren’t doing it much justice. Just pure faith in the team that gave us Metroid Prime is mostly why I have hope in this game.

    • Daniel Jeanbaptiste

      only a few people from retro

    • The thing is, a number of those people at Retro were from an FPS background in the first place, which is a large part of the reason that Metroid Prime worked as well as it did.

    • James Beatty

      It’s not really the entirety of RETRO working on it, just a few guys with an unproven track record.

  • Alestaos

    Went from a get to a wait for a review, has anyone demoed the vita version to see the differences where there isnt a second screen etc

  • leingod

    I’m gonna remain cautiously optimistic about this one…

  • WhyWai

    i think 3DS just not a suitable platform for these action games.. still happy that at least they bringing this to Vita as well..

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