Originally Published: March 15, 2011, on Comicvine.com

With there being an absolute whirlwind of activity around recent announcements for Batman: Arkham City, it made me start to think that maybe our current Dark Knight is overshadowing the future one, who is just trying to grab his little corner of the limelight after nearly a decade of flying under the radar. And so I thought that maybe Terry McGinnis needs his own video game after he just got his own monthly comic again to solidify his spot in the eyes of fans of the DC Universe. It seems there is enough of an interest in The Tomorrow Knight that I’m sure we could figure out a better representation in the digital realm for him than the awful 2000 side-scrolling beat ‘em up for the N64/PS1 game based on Return of the Joker. So how would a Batman Beyond video game work?

One of the key focuses of a Batman Beyond game would be differentiating it from the more recent Batman games. Although it should still be true to the character and be dark overall, the atmosphere of this game might need to take a page out of the book of the 2099 Spider-Man levels from Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. Bright lights set against a dark background with Terry (voiced again by Will Friedle) constantly quipping at his foes or answering to Bruce (voiced again by Kevin Conroy) who is always talking about “the old days” and how he did things while he was Batman. All the while utilizing the Batsuit’s flying abilities to both get around and to complete missions. Terry’s Gotham should also be a sandbox that could allow for a lot of exploration of some of the seedier sections of town and so this doesn’t become just a button mashing brawler and allow for some mission variety.

Terry’s Batsuit has a lot of awesome features to it though beyond the flying. The camouflage feature on the suit could allow Terry to walk right up to a villain without him knowing and he could knock him out without having to worry about going all Sam Fisher in a level and sticking to the shadows. The camouflage could also be used to infiltrate certain areas to listen in on villain conversations or even hack a terminal without interference. This feature would need an overheat meter of some kind though, otherwise the game would be too easy as you could just turn invisible and walk through most of the game, similar to many people’s complaint about feeling a need to always have Detective Mode from Batman: Arkham Asylum on. You could also set up mini-games with the frequency monitors and lock picks that are featured in the gloves of Terry’s Batsuit.

To get the most out of these features you would need to put a bit more of an emphasis on information gathering and item collection though and that brings us to our plot of the game. It would need to have several layers to it that could put Terry and Bruce’s detective skills to the test. Maybe have Terry go back to the Batcave after finding new clues or defeating each villain and have it so that Terry could interact with a lot of the items in the cave, giving all Batman fans a bit of a cheap thrill as Terry explores the cave or uses the Batcomputer.

But one of the big problems that Terry has always faced is he has a rather paltry rogues gallery. So much so that he constantly has to resort to Bruce’s villains or variations thereof. The Joker and Mr. Freeze are the first two that come to mind in that category, but also Spellbinder and False-Face, although re-imagined and made much cooler than the late 1950s-60s versions Bruce fought, were originally his rogues. Even three issues into his new comic, the only villain Terry has fought was a new Matter Master, a Hawkman villain!

Well, if Terry is going to rely on some of Bruce’s villains, especially since a lot of Terry’s have been killed off it seems (Shriek, Blight, Stalker), then this new game should center around one who has never really been explored, and it would be interesting to introduce him into Terry’s universe in a video game. Clayface V or Cassius “Clay” Payne. Assuming that Basil Karlo and the other Clayfaces still age normally (although unlikely), one who would still be alive and most definitely be a threat in Terry’s time would be Cassius.

Since currently Cassius is really nothing more than a kid in current times and has never been explored very thoroughly, you could make him the diabolical mastermind that the other Clayfaces never really aspired to. With his shape-shifting ability, he could manipulate key events all around Gotham and hire other villains in various guises to throw off Bruce and Terry with it all culminating in one of the most epic boss battles ever. Hiring several of Terry’s more infamous (and still living) villains to keep him busy, Clayface could be lurking in the shadows, posing as or pulling the strings of politicians, the GCPD, and many others around Gotham as he forwards his agenda of eliminating the Batman from Gotham once and for all!

So there is your main villain and definitely a twist that a lot of Batman fans would probably appreciate. But you’d need more villains than that of course to really make a decent comic book game. Before Clayface, Terry should have to face Inque, one of his most difficult opponents ever, but really just a hired gun who will provide the final piece of the puzzle when she reveals she attacked Batman for someone who she felt was a kindred spirit, as in both Inque and Clayface are shape-shifters who are more in tune with their villainous personas than their human sides.

Before he faces Inque though, Terry would have to take down Spellbinder, who is causing trouble because Clayface threw a lot of money his way. Really he should be nothing more than a diversion for Clayface’s master scheme, but he wouldn’t be Batman if he just let Spellbinder hypnotize people and suggest them to walk off rooftops or whatnot.

It seems a lot of Terry’s villains aren’t nearly as tragic or deep as many of the original Dark Knight’s though as the villains that lead up to Spellbinder are none other than the Royal Flush Gang, again because they were promised big pay days. Having five villains at once could lend itself to a variety of tasks and levels as you could have an epic end battle against all five at once, or the more likely scenario, of separating them and taking them down one at a time culminating in a still difficult boss battle with the android Ace, who could have several “modes” to him and take new forms as the battle progresses and he takes damage.

Also, if you do face the Royal Flush Gang separately, and if the game was done in a sandbox, you could have one level where you have to chase down Jack or Ten on those hovercards they had in the cartoon and that would give a reason for something I wish you could use in more Batman games, the Batmobile. A Batman Beyond video game’s biggest difference to most other super hero video games is that Terry would have to use the Batmobile for certain levels like that one with the Royal Flush Gang, and it would be an option for him to get from point A to point B in Gotham if you didn’t want to explore on foot and with the Batsuit.

The opening of the game would be more of a tutorial mission as it’ll all start out with Terry chasing some Jokerz, who would then serve the rest of the game as your primary henchman for the other bosses due to their numbers and could even have more well known ones like Dee Dee, Woof, or J-Man serve as mini-bosses.

So there’s my take on a possible Batman Beyond video game. What would you do for a Batman Beyond video game? Would you try to add some more villains or levels? Should the game be a bit more linear and not a sandbox? Let us know by commenting below!

-Ray Carsillo

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