Nine times out of ten it’s a terrible idea to release the latest console and handheld installments of a franchise on the same day–at least from the handheld perspective. Sure, Metroid Fusion thrived despite hitting the streets the same day as Metroid Prime, but Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (3DS/Vita) seems destined to end up as one of the nine unluckier examples. Not only is the game getting completely blanketed by its console-cousin’s hype, but there seems to be a bare minimum of news coverage for the game. Bare minimum. And not in a sexy-dirty way.
In case you’re completely unaware of Blackgate, it’s a 2D Batman sidescroller set in the Blackgate Penitentiary, where a slew of villains ranging from the Joker to Solomon Grundy are held up… though not for long. I hesitate to call the game a 2D platformer because Batman is reportedly unable to jump, although he can grapple to reach gargoyles and high ledges. In addition to grappling, Batman will utilize a bundle of other gadgets and techniques from the console Arkham games.
As for the story, Blackgate serves as a sort of epilogue to Arkham Origins, although the storylines will not lend to spoiler-heavy overlaps. Blackgate is also taking a page from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker by telling its tale through scenes that resemble hand-drawn comicbook art.
Don’t think for a second that Blackgate is some mailed-in portable version of Origins. The 3DS and Vita game has been built from the ground up to serve as its own Arkham experience. You’ll still recognize gadgets, Detective Mode, and the freeflow combat from the console Arkham games, but Blackgate’s developer Armature Studio has started from scratch to best serve Batman in the second dimension.
What has me absolutely amped for Blackgate is the game’s Metroid influences. Most notably, the level-design will offer item-based exploration through the labyrinthine prison. Considering that we haven’t seen a new 2D Metroid in nearly a decade, Blackgate should get fans’ juices flowing, if not bubbling (mine are boiling for the record). And to sweeten the deal, Blackgate’s director happens to be Mark Pacini, the man who directed the entire Metroid Prime trilogy.
Metroid isn’t the only classic 2D series influencing Blackgate. Turns out players will be able to fight Blackgate’s bosses in the order of their choosing. After defeating a boss, Batman will receive a new gadget for battling enemies and exploring new areas. If you’re getting misty for Mega Man’s boss-and-weapon formula, we’re on the same page. My only concern is how the exploration and boss-order will balance. How exactly will I be able to fight any boss of my choosing if Batman needs certain items to navigate different areas?
The Caped Crusader will hit portables on October 25th. Chances are, Blackgate will get buried among the hype and reviews for Arkham Origins. I can’t blame you if you’re aiming to grab Origins early, but if you have any love for 2D stealth and exploration, check out Blackgate.