Three months ago I was babysitting my friend’s 4 year old, Noah. He’s a cherub faced chap who imbibes superheroes and video games in an Attention Deficit Disorder fervor. He’ll often play three minutes of a game, then jump back to the land of imagination battling his Young Justice action figures against…well anything…Tonka trucks…his potbelly pig…my face…anything. After beating up whatever inanimate or living object he can find, it’s right back to the Wii.
Noah introduced me to his first love on the Wii called Skylanders. This game is sheer marketing genius that synergizes real-world figurine collecting with on-line adventure. In Skylanders you collect Pokemon like characters that have different powers. The action figures sit on a plastic stump akin to the Lorax’s pulpit or a rock tower as pictured. Once on the platform the character comes alive on screen and becomes the toddler’s avatar. The upsell genius of this model is that to see 100% of the Skylander’s game, like Pokemon, you gotta get em all. Have a door made of fire, you need the water Skylander to douse the flame, and so it goes through all of the known elements (before humanity understood actual science and elements).
Despite Noah’s love of this game and his parent’s generosity to buy him every character on the shelf, he will still abandon Skylanders mid-play to go back to a little super hero fun. This got me thinking; wouldn’t it be perfect if someone combined the earth’s greatest heroes with Skylanders? Well, as with most of my ideas – I am a day late and several thousand product development dollars short.
BATMAN APPTIVITY – GOTHAM BY BACKLIGHT
Well, the good folks at Mattel have brought my idea to fruition. With BATMAN APPTIVITY, your iPad transforms into the streets of Gotham.
The Skylanders connection is that instead of using your traditional controls for the iPad (i.e. your finger), BATMAN APPTIVITY gives you one of four figurines that you move from side-to-side or press on to shoot out freeze beams, Taser beams or missiles as the levels demand. Now, unlike Skylanders Mattel doesn’t make you spend an arm and a leg to get through all the levels. No matter what Batman you receive, you are fully equipped to finish the game with one character. In a nice nod to RPG character progression, you earn credits each level to upgrade your arsenal.
Following the Dark Knight Rises story line, the App delivers nine gorgeously rendered levels. Movie favorites like Catwoman and Bane make appearances throughout. I would give the game credit for its rendering of Gotham on a console, but BATMAN APPTIVITY receives extra special kudos for delivering the same eye candy sans a heavy duty graphics card.
Following games like Arkham Asylum and City there are even a few stealth levels. Most impressive is how the game traverses not only in a side scroll fashion, but also provides depth as you swoop off rafters and in later levels actual buildings.
I would put the age range for the game between 4-9, that magical time when kids want to play games, but can’t handle standard controllers and complex buttons. Of course most comic book fans will get a kick out of playing anything with the Batman brand on it, so for that extra-large kid in your life this is a damn fine stocking stuffer. This 38 year old kid actually played for an hour at my local comic shop with all of the other potbellied and bearded kids.