And yet, you might sense that something is off. As Alex Romanov noted in the comments to my last post, I made a critical mistake that I did not discover until the end of this session. Things didn't go well for the Caped Crusader. Rather than whitewash it, I will narrate what happened and you can see for yourself how I spent the next four hours of play time. I am not sure whether I was completely doomed after the first day’s mistake or if there was some way that I could have recovered, but either way this is a “Lost!” post. I will try again from the start next week.
|I thought he looked like the guy from Twins.|
Batman began his second day like the first one: sitting at his bat-desk and listening to the nightly news. The top story of the night is that Oswald Cobblepot, a deformed man with a penguin-like appearance, saved the mayor’s son from a kidnap attempt by the circus gang. We know (because we’re not idiots) that the Penguin orchestrated the whole scenario, but the gullible population swallows it and sees him as a hero. Perhaps Batman’s vigilante activities have primed them to accept another bird-themed hero..
I wish we had been present for this scene instead of being told about it on the news. In the movie, the circus gang attacks the mayor and his family at a tree lighting ceremony and escape through a manhole, only to have the Penguin emerge from the same (in his rubber duckie boat!) and return the child to his father. Neither Bruce Wayne nor his alter-ego are present for this scene in the film either, but we lose a lot by having it summarized by a talking head. Still, I cannot fault the game for trying to tell this story strictly from Batman’s point of view, especially as they are highlighting the detective aspect of his character.
|The bat-computer is updated immediately with Penguin as a “person to watch”.|
In the film, Penguin’s arrival on the scene is followed by a brief quest to find out his real identity. Penguin is taken to the hall of records where he searches for evidence of his name and his lost family. We later learn that Penguin used his time with the records to assemble lists of the Gotham elite’s firstborn children to abduct. The game skips this part and reveals his name immediately. Unless it comes up later, this is a lost opportunity because Batman spying on Penguin could have been a neat adventure game sequence.
Having found absolutely nothing to do, I retire for the evening and prepare for day three. I hope I am not coming off as down on the game already, but slowly mousing over rooms get boring after a while.
Unlike the previous two, the third night does not even have a news update. There are general news stories about the decline of education standards and the increase in crime, but nothing pertinent to our case. I head to the batmobile for another evening of searching around. As before, there are no new areas to explore on our map.
I discover a clue in the mayor’s office: a stack of “party pictures” left on his desk. I scan them using my bat-scanner and return to the batcave. I do not know if there is a penalty if I had taken them instead of scanning them, but I’d rather not risk it. We cannot look at the pictures directly. Instead, we insert them into the evidence computer for processing. It reveals that they are photos from that mayor’s son’s first birthday party. There is also an option to extrapolate further, but the computer does not have enough evidence for additional conclusions. This is twice that Batman has gone to the mayor’s office and stolen something completely innocuous. We have yet to discover an actual clue.
|World’s Greatest Stalker|
There are only nine days in the game and we’ve spent three of them doing nothing. When does the plot start?
|Now, I suppose.|
The fourth day starts with a news alert! The citizens of the city are sick and tired of gangs of circus performers roaming the city. They want a mayoral recall election and they want it now. Not coincidentally, Oswald Cobblepot is now the leading opposition candidate thanks to the city seeing him as the hero that they need. We know from the movie that this is all being orchestrated by Max Shreck as part of his plot to get a sympathetic mayor in office so that he can siphon electricity from the city, but the game doesn’t make that connection yet. The movie also shows Penguin eating raw fish and assaulting his supporters, but Mr. Shreck’s excellent stage-management of Cobblepot’s reputation somehow causes these incidents to be forgotten. The news even has the gall to complain that “Batman has disappeared” during these attacks; how many times have I run around the city beating up clowns in the last four days?
I explore the city again and find the standard array of empty rooms and meaningless combats. This time, I spy a feather on the mayor’s desk and pocket it. When I take that back to the evidence computer, I have my first real clue of the game! The computer identifies the feather as being from an Emperor Penguin, possibly one of penguins from an exhibit at the Old Zoo. The computer further believes that the feather is intended as a threat or a calling card, to tell the mayor that the Penguin is after him. Could the pictures from the previous night be a similar threat? What if they were taken by Penguin’s gang to show the mayor how closely he and his family are being watched?
|Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo… how about you, you, you...|
|A cave for polar bears?|
|The penguin exhibit!|
The poster is for a circus that disbanded five years ago. The computer further deduces that the circus performers are the same ones that are terrorizing the city. That suggests that the thugs are connected to the zoo and, by extension, the Penguin! Holy moley! The movie makes this explicit much earlier, but I like the way the game is telling this story exclusively from Batman’s perspective.
Before concluding my most successful night yet, I take one more spin around all of the locations to see if I find anything new. I do not, but at least I feel better that the plot is starting up.
|How did you get my Skype?|
I am more than halfway through the game! I considered ending the post here, but there isn’t quite enough content yet. The plot thickens immediately as the Penguin sends Batman a video message directly to the batcave. He wants Batman to know that he has a tape of evidence against the mayor that he will release soon. Once the people discover how corrupt their leader is, they will surely pick Penguin as his replacement. He claims that he is telling us this because he wants to “play fair”, but there is likely another reason. In the film, he’s trying to draw Batman out so that he can be discredited. I’m not sure if the game has the narrative ability to present that well.
Now that I consider it, the craziest part of the game is that you could possibly go from a petition to a recall election in less than a week. Just printing ballots and arranging polling stations would take more than that. Real world gears turn much more slowly, plus Penguin could be just as easily recalled if he won the election. In the film, the timeframe is less explicit but still condensed, starting from the tree-lighting and ending sometime before Christmas; four weeks at most.
|Jinkies! Another clue!|
|Who is Byron Orton?|
The plans are of a defense-oriented remodel of someplace, but neither we nor the mayor seems to be sure of where. The mayor’s notes suggest that he believes Max Shreck is up to something, but he doesn’t know what. The computer helpfully tells us that a ventilation duct is the weak point in the design, a detail that I am positive will come in handy later.
|Dark Knights of the Round Table?|
Searching the room carefully, I discover a hidden compartment beneath the globe on the right hand side. I have to use the lockpick, but inside is a memo which I scan for further analysis. While in his office, I get attacked by more circus people, although I am not certain whether that is a programming flaw or further indication that Shreck and Penguin are in cahoots. Back in the batcave, we learn that Shreck’s was hunting to Penguin to use his men to inflame the crime wave. Doing so will undercut the mayor’s reputation, ensuring Penguin’s eventual win. Good thing this sort of thing never happens in real life!
|Who is Dennis Barvel?|
|Thanks for reminding me!|
I start the next day without having solved the mystery of Penguin’s extortion tape. He’s even kind enough to video-call me again to remind me that I need to track him down. Thanks, Penguin! He reveals that his real motivation is to expose me, making himself the hero and Batman the freak. The nightly news reveals that there is renewed violence in Gotham Plaza, obviously part of the plot that Shreck and Penguin cooked up the previous day. While not connected to the main plot, I notice that Barvel is no longer listed in the computer. I missed whatever was supposed to happen with him, if anything.
At Gotham Plaza, I enter the fight of my gaming life. Batman has to face enemy after enemy. Eventually, even the Penguin shows up. He blocks everything I throw at him with an umbrella, although I do get him to talk to me after a well-timed bolo hits him. (Or maybe the timing is a coincidence; I am not sure.)
|The Penguin is surprisingly effective with his trick umbrella for both attack and defense.|
|Smacking around some bats. You know.|
|And it’s not okay to hit cats either.|
Reluctantly, I flip over to day seven and the game ends immediately. Penguin’s tape is released, showing the mayor embezzling funds from the city. This scandal ends the mayor’s political career and rockets Penguin (and Max Shreck) into a position of power in the city. The election is done. Batman is disgraced. Game over.
|Yeah, I know. He reminded me twice!|
|But recall elections here are pretty quick and easy to arrange.|
|You have failed this city. Green Arrow could have solved this case.|
|Do I have to play again?|
Even absent a “Request for Assistance”, advice is appreciated on the Penguin and Catwoman combats. I don’t have a strategy for those except putting the game on “Fierce” and setting my DOS emulator to fast-forward because the fights take ages and get nowhere. Is there an object or a combination of objects that I should be using to win those fights?
Time played: 4 hr 10 min
Total time: 6 hr 00 min