Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes debuts for iOS

It's only the third title in the wonderful Lego series to get the iOS treatment. And at just $4.99, it's cheaper than its console counterparts.

Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes looks console-quality on a Retina display.
Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes looks console-quality on a Retina display. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I have unabashed love for the Lego series of video games, which have adapted a wide range of movie series -- "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," "Lord of the Rings," and more -- into improbably excellent action-adventures.

Alas, only two of them have been ported from consoles to iOS: Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 . Great games, both, but with limited appeal unless you're a Harry Potter fan.

It was a long wait -- almost a year to the day -- but finally there's another Lego game for the iOS crowd: Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes. From the opening menu, which blasts Danny Elfman's rousing soundtrack from the Tim Burton-era "Batman" movies, you're in for a treat.

What's so special about these games? For starters, they're funny, combining broad slapstick with lots of clever jokes -- many of which only adults and/or die-hard fans would get. What's more, although they're heavy on combat, it's totally bloodless, and no more violent than a Nerf sword fight. Plus, there's a definite emphasis on puzzle-solving. As a parent, I'd much rather see my kids playing these games than scoping out head shots in Call of Duty.

Lego Batman delivers old-school superhero fun, meaning you start off playing as Batman or Robin, but later get to unlock other Justice League characters like Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Superman. Your foes include old favorites like the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman. The aforementioned musical score notwithstanding, it's a lot more Adam West (look him up, kids) than Christian Bale.

Like Lego Lord of the Rings before it, Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes (a port of the Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes game that debuted for consoles last year) marks a departure for the series by incorporating voices. Much as I always liked how much exposition the games could milk just from character expressions and cute little "huh?" noises, this definitely makes for a richer, more cinematic experience.

It's not clear from the description whether the iOS version is a full port, with all the same levels and extras, but it's definitely a big game -- 1.33GB just for the download -- and does offer a whopping 80 playable characters. That's 20 more than the original console version had.

I can also attest that it looks terrific on a Retina screen (I played it on an iPad 3). And you can't beat the price: $4.99. The console versions all sell for $20. The only hitch: There's a freemium element at work here in the form of gold bricks, which you need to unlock certain characters. You can collect some in the game, but ultimately you might end up buying more.

As with the Lego Harry Potter games, the controls can be a little tricky, especially if you're playing on a smaller screen. But Lego Batman: DC Super Heroes is still a blast to play, and highly recommended for kids, Batman fans, and game lovers alike.

Note to developer TT Games: More, please!

 

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