9 Underrated DC Comics Video Games

DC lovers have plenty of gaming options.

When it comes to great DC Comics video games, most fans think of recent blockbusters like the Arkham series or Injustice: Gods Among Us. But they aren't the only games that have captured the fun of being costumed hero in the DC Universe. For every clunker like Superman 64 or Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis, there's another game that did justice to our favorite heroes.

Join us as we explore some of the past DC games that have either been forgotten by time or simply didn't receive the respect they deserved when they were first released. 

Screen from Batman: The Brave and the Bold
WB Games

Systems: Wii, DS

Developer WayForward took a decidedly old-school approach with this Batman game. Which is appropriate considering that the cartoon source material borrows heavily from Batman's campy Silver Age roots.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold unfolds as an old-fashioned 2D brawler. Each level allows gamers to take control of the Dark Knight and one of his allies (including Blue Beetle, Plastic Man and Green Arrow). In a neat example of cross-system synergy, players who own both the Wii and DS versions of the game can use their DS to control Bat-Mite as he appears on the Wii version.

The fact that The Brave and the Bold appeared only on these two Nintendo systems limited its appeal somewhat, but it's well worth hunting down for those who want a gorgeously rendered and very playable Batman game. More »

Screen from Superman: Shadow of Apokolips
WB Games

Systems: Playstation 2, Gamecube

Give the infamously poor reception Superman 64 received in 1999, gamers were understandably wary about plunking down their hard-earned cash on another game featuring the Man of Steel, especially one based specifically on Superman: The Animated Series.

Luckily, Shadow of Apokolips did far more justice to its animated source material. In terms of gameplay, Shadow of Apokolips is a pretty straightforward 3D action title. Its real success comes in capturing the look and feel of the animated series. The cel-shaded graphics capture Bruce Timm's distinctive, blocky art style nicely, and many voice actors from the show (including Tim Daly, Dana Delawny and Clancy Brown) reprised their roles for the game. More »

Screen from Justice League Heroes
WB Games

Systems: Playstation 2, Gamecube, Game Boy Advance, Playstation Portable

Plenty of superhero fans have fond memories of playing the X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. But did you know DC has its own answer to the superhero-driven action/RPG brawler? 

Justice League Heroes had a strong pedigree to build from. It was designed with the Dark Alliance Engine, the same technology that birthed classic RPG brawlers like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. It also features a story written by Static Shock creator/Justice League of America writer Dwayne McDuffie.

Basically, if you want to take control of the iconic heroes of the JLA and beat the stuffing out of some villains, Justice League Heroes was and maybe still is your best bet. PSP owners should definitely hunt this one down, as that version is widely regarded as the best.   More »

System: Game Boy Advance

The Game Boy Advance wasn't well-equipped to handle the detailed 3D graphics and hectic action of Justice League Heroes, so Warner Bros. commissioned a completely separate game better suited to the GBA hardware. Luckily, the result wasn't a quick and dirty cash-in, but a legitimately good game starring a certain Scarlet Speedster.

The Flash can be a tricky character to adapt for games, given that all of his abilities involve moving at super-speed. Developer WayForward (the same folks that would alter go on to design the Batman: The Brave and the Bold game) solved that problem by modeling the game after beat-em-ups like Final Fight and Double Dragon and adding a dose of slow-motion action to the mix. To date, this game remains the only worthwhile DC title to focus on Flash. More »

Gotham City Impostors art
WB Games

Systems: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

Given Batman's notorious dislike of firearms, you'd think it would be hard to build a first-person-shooter around the Dark Knight and his world. Developer Monolith Productions solved that problem by framing the game not around Batman and Joker, but two gangs of trigger-happy hooligans inspired by their actions.

Gotham City Impostors is a multiplayer shooter in the vein of games like Call of Duty, with players choosing between two teams, the Bats or the Jokerz. The game features a mix of traditional FPS weapons and more outlandish gadgets like jack-in-the box grenades.

While the concept behind Gotham City Impostors sounds a bit strange, the game turned out to be surprisingly well-crafted. The best part is that the game is now free-to-play on the Xbox 360 and PC (the PS3 servers have been shut down), meaning that there's no commitment required other than the time to download the game. More »

Batman: Vengeance art
WB Games

Systems: Playstation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, PC

Prior to the Arkham series, Batman: Vengeance was pretty much the go-to game for those times when players wanted to immerse themselves in Batman's world. This 3D action game is set in the Batman: The Animated Series universe (specifically borrowing the art style and aesthetic of The New Batman Adventures) and features a wide range of heroes and villains for the show.

As with Superman: Shadow of Apokolips, the real appeal with Batman: vengeance was seeing the look and feel of the animated series so faithfully recreated in video game form. All the major voice actors reprised their roles for the game, including Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as Joker and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn.  More »

System: Super Nintendo

Batman Returns was a huge deal with it hit theaters in the summer of 1992, and there was plenty of merchandise to accompany its release. Not only was there a video game tie-in on just about every major console at the time, but each version was a completely different experience. In all, WB commissioned no less than seven different Batman Returns games from a variety of publishers.

However, the SNES game is the one worth remembering. That version of batman Returns is a side-scrolling beat-em-up heavily inspired by games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage. That gaming genre might have been done to death in the SNES era, but developer Konami tended to do it better than anyone. After all, they were the ones responsible for classics like The Simpsons Arcade Game, X-Men: The Arcade Game and TMNT: Turtles In Time. This version stood out thanks to its vibrant 2D graphics and simple but fluid gameplay. More »

08
of 09

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008)

Screen from MK vs DCU
WB Games

Systems: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

The Mortal Kombat franchise was still trying to find its way in the late 2000's, having significantly waned in popularity since it height in the mid-'90s. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was a significant step towards righting the ship. This mash-up game pulled the two universe together to confront the dual threat of Shao Kahn and Darkseid, with the two characters fusing to form the uber-villain Dark Kahn.

The thought of the Mortal Kombat cast trying to perform fatalities on superhuman characters like Superman and Wonder Woman might have seemed ridiculous, but when has the Mortal Kombat franchise ever been known for realism? Besides, comic book writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti were tapped to write a story that put the entire battle in context.

What mattered was that the game was fun in a way Mortal Kombat hadn't necessarily been in a long time. It brought the franchise back to its roots, eschewing the complicated 3D approach of previous games for more classic MK gameplay.

The main criticisms leveled at MK vs. DCU revolved around its lack of unlockable content and the relatively toned down violence. But without this game, we might never have gotten 2009's Mortal Kombat reboot or 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us

Art from DC Universe Online
WB Games

Systems: Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac

Many developers have tried to replicate the massive success of World of Warcraft, and to date none have quite reached that level. Still, DC Universe Online is a valiant effort, and one well worth checking out for anyone who wants to devote hours to living out their digital superhero fantasies. 

DC Universe Online was first revealed in 2008, but the game didn't actually see the light of day until 2011. Massively multiplayer online RPGs are tricky beasts, to say the least. And like pretty much every MMORPG, DCUO had its share of technical and gameplay problems out of the gate. But five years of updates and refinements have resulted in an enjoyable superhero experience.

DCUO features a sprawling vision of the DC Universe and an epic storyline to match. The game opens with a gorgeously rendered cinematic of a post-apocalyptic DCU where a war between heroes and villains has paved the way for Brainiac to take over the world. After returning to the present, the game tasks players with creating their own hero, aligning themselves with either the heroes or villains, and playing their part in the ongoing fight to prevent this hellish future from unfolding.

As in any good MMORPG, there's never a shortage of things to do or places to visit in DCUO. Developer Daybreak Game Company routinely adds new content to the game, including missions inspired by TV series like Arrow and Supergirl and comic book storylines like "Blackest Night." One of the great things about DCUO is that the game was designed for play on consoles. The streamlined interface makes it possible to enjoy the game with a simple controller ratehr than a keyboard and mouse.

Like most MMORPGs, DCUO eventually abandoned the monthly fee and now exists as a free-to-play title. It might be a hefty download, but you really can't go wrong with that price. More »