There’s a lot that has been said about Joel Schumacher’s 1997 superhero film ‘Batman & Robin™’ but nothing about Probe Entertainment’s 1998 movie tie-in. Probably with good reason as ‘Probe’s Batman & Robin™’ is what PlayStations use to describe a hate crime. That may be too harsh, as the game itself is your classic example of ambitious developers executing new gameplay ideas really, really, really, badly on an adaptation of a ‘Toyetic’ film no one likes. Nevertheless, it is a contradiction in terms. Both brilliant and terrible game design in one package that’s nearly a crime to behold. Let’s watch.
The ambition from Probe Entertainment is the first clue this game is not too great. They were a middling development house (mainly known for mediocre tie-in games and sorta-OK arcade conversations), so why was this the project they decided to go all ‘Auteur’ on us? Plus another scarlet flag is that the game was published by Acclaim. A publisher who is probably best known for trying to advertise ‘Shadowman: 2nd Coming’ on people’s gravestones, and Turok.
1998s ‘Batman & Robin™’ on Sony PlayStation is an open-world action game with ‘puzzle elements’, which is shorthand for developers with too many ideas and not enough skills/talent to implement them (see the introduction to this article). The game has an emphasis on collecting clues from crime scenes around Gotham City, then using them to find out where the ‘crims’ (short for ‘criminals’, saves time when I type) are going to strike next, allowing Batman™ to arrive before the crime and foil them. Mercifully, the main anttagonist Mr. Freeze™ has given Batman™ two clues to start with, like some kind of high stakes escape room.
To work out the meaning of the two clues that will lead him to Mr. Freeze’s™ next caper, Batman™ (the world’s greatest detective™) first has to slowly scan both clues into his massive Bat-Computer™ ( possibly using his Bat-HP ScanJet 3200c™), then combine the two together to form a poster with the time and place of the next dirty crime!
Now at this point, you are probably wondering why he did just go to his Bat-Desk™ and use Bat-Sellotape™ to Bat-Tape™ the two halves together (or just read them separately). But that comment only betrays your ignorance reader, he needs the super digital magnification (when scanned at 1200×600 at 32DPI) to read the average-sized handwriting on top right-hand corner, on one half of the poster.
Knowing now that the fiendish Mr. Freeze™ will strike at the Gotham Museum (museum or art? museum of history? museum of dinosaurs?) at twenty past seven. Batman™ then jumps in the Bat-Mobile™ heads down there to stop him.
While there, he kicks a few henchmen in the face, collects a few more clues (represent by massive yellowy-gold ‘?‘), saves a diamond from being heisted, and has a homoerotic wrestle with the burly Mr. Freeze™. Spent and contented, Batman™ then heads back to his Bat-Computer™, scans in the new clues (including the diamond), repeats the process again ad nauseam until the conclusion of the game. Along the way, Poison Ivy™ and Bane™ also show up, to add to the confetti of crime clues until they too are spent and the game ends with all the male characters falling into a heap [sic].
We are sorry we reminded you that both this film and game exist. Therefore we deeply, deeply apologise*.
*Blast Processing is not capable of empathy.