These days, a lot of video games are rooted in business plans rather than a creative vision. Nobody could be blamed for jumping to that conclusion about LEGO Batman, a game based on a toy line based, in turn, on a comic book. But writing it off would be a big mistake: It’s one of the rare games today that’s both truly funny and truly appropriate for all ages.
Unlike the successful LEGO Star Wars and Indiana Jones games, Batman doesn’t have a movie plot to follow—the game is a mash-up of comics from the ’40s, ’50s and ’80s, with ample helpings of the Tim Burton movies and the classic 1990s animated series mixed in. The plot defines flimsy—the bulk of Batman’s rogues’ gallery busts out of Arkham Asylum and the Caped Crusader and Robin have to round them up—which is exactly as it should be. The emphasis is on thorny puzzles (usually solved via gadgets or a “theme” costume like Batman’s demolition suit) and furious grappling with endless legions of henchmen who shatter into plastic blocks when you throw them on the ground.
Once the story is done, you can replay the game using any combination of villains as the protagonists, or just go back to complete your collection of treasures hidden throughout the game (which allow the purchase of new characters, gadgets and upgrades). There are definitely some frustrating technical glitches to contend with, but they’re easy to forgive in a game with this much personality.