It’s difficult to come up with a fault for Batman, but he does have one noticeable chink in his armor: he’s not funny. His utility belt has a knack for supplying the perfect gadget to save him from imminent danger, but a batarang isn’t much help in coming up with a knock-knock joke. Thankfully, Batman doesn’t have to worry about stand-up material in his latest adventure. The Brave and the Bold pushes humor to the forefront, but it’s the cast of supporting characters who supply the laughs. Robin and Blue Beetle are always ready with a quip during dry moments, and even the often ridiculed Aquaman is able to lighten the mood, often at his own expense. This happy-go-lucky atmosphere meshes beautifully with the simple combat, which is just varied enough to stave off a feeling of repetition. A lack of difficulty does hold this back from delivering the satisfying thrill of victory most good beat-’em-ups are known for, and it limits the long-term value in the process. But the simple pleasures in The Brave and the Bold make this a fun and charming brawler.
There are four self-contained episodes in The Brave and the Bold. The stories are what you would expect from a cartoon superhero caper–gorillas running amok, and statues coming to life–but it’s the manner in which these tales are told that gives this game personality. Villains interject their dastardly thoughts and cunning insults throughout the levels, and their repartee gives this game a goofy charm. Each episode teams Batman up with a different sidekick, but these second bananas don’t stay meekly out of the spotlight. Robin takes offense to every perceived slight; Blue Beetle makes fun of the preposterous situations; Hawkman won’t stop talking about how old and wise he is; and Guy Gardner is a pompous jerk even after he messes everything up. But the jokes aren’t limited to the cutscenes. Blue Beetle muses about superhero/supervillain relationships in the middle of a hectic fight; Robin continually argues that a catlike person has to be Catwoman; and Batman offers a few objections while everyone prattles on around him. It’s a great dynamic that makes this game immediately engaging and accessible, even for people who don’t know their Batman from their Man-Bat.