With Rocksteady’s final installment of their Arkham trilogy coming out very soon, I decided to delve deep into some older Batman games that most people may have missed out on. My eye came across a game that I’d never gotten a chance to play — Batman: The Rise of Sin Tzu, released in 2003 for the GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2. I picked up the GameCube version recently and began my time in Gotham as the Dark Knight. This game is based on the Animated Series, and follows Batman on his quest to stop a new villain in Gotham, Sin Tzu. Sin Tzu was created by comic book legend Jim Lee and brings some heft to this title. If you can snag a copy of the game with the manual, you are greeted with a nice black and white sketch by the man himself.
The story is pretty simple, in fact it somewhat mirrors the Knightfall story from quite a few years back. Sin Tzu wants to have Gotham, but to do that he has to go through Batman, so he needs help. Tzu breaks a few of Batman’s rogues gallery out of Arkham to slow him down, and it’s your job as the player to make sure Gotham stays safe. Once you view the first cutscene you have a difficult choice to make: Which part of the Batman Family do you want to be? You can play as Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Nightwing, I immediately chose Batman, he’s the best and the most powerful, and since this is a brawler he was my best bet.
Seeing that the game is brawler, you mostly have to rely on two buttons, the A button and the B button, which act as your punch and kick. Batman can’t block, and can’t really jump out of the way. The right trigger allows him to roll out of the way, but it’s just easier to punch the hoods in the face. Unfortunately after the great cut scenes and the animated style of the game, you finally get into combat. This game, while fun at the start, really gets repetitive. In Crime Alley you are immediately tasked with saving hostages, and man I thought it would be more exciting than that. I button mashed my way through the level, and found myself in Chinatown, facing the Scarecrow’s goons, and it was just as boring. During the Scarecrow levels there are some neat graphical changes if you get hit with fear toxin. Should that happen, the screen get very wavy and the enemies change into something more “terrifying” due to the fear toxin. That’s a nice little addition to a somewhat boring brawler.
As you mundanely punch the baddies, you are rewarded with points, which allow you to upgrade Batman’s karate arsenal. Sadly, they do not add to the combat mechanic at all. The new moves that your learn are no more powerful than your standard “kick three times” that you were given at the beginning of the game. You’re also given a Batarang to pummel evil with, but it too is somewhat lame, as you can only throw one, and then have to wait for it to return. Plus, it only stuns the enemy for about two seconds, you barely have enough time to slap them silly before it wears off. There is a plus though: You can throw the Batarang at explosive barrels and take out several enemies at once, and that gets your blood pumping!
The graphics are nice for the GameCube, and seeing the Animated Batman kick and punch and run is a great treat for a fan of the series. The voice acting is great too. Kevin Conroy plays Batman and the rest of the voice cast from the animated series joins him, as well. This game is a nice little treat for fans of the Animated Series. You can be any of the main Bat Members, and get to fight through Gotham in Animated style. The game can grow boring though, as you rescue hostage after hostage and diffuse bomb after bomb. Had they incorporated different tasks and objectives, the game would have been much much better. If you can find this game lying around somewhere, it’s definitely something you should take a look at, mostly for nostalgia’s sake.