Batman: The Brave and the Bold is based on the cartoon series (and originally on a series of DC comic books), which explains both its visual style (bright and cheery) and the game's central gambit, which is that Batman teams up with various other superheroes to take down super-villians. The game splits over four very extensive episodes as Batman and friends BIFF!, THUD!, THWACK! and KABLAMMO! their way through countless hordes of hired goons, some larger boss fights and some light platforming action.
If the presence of all that caps lock in the preceding paragraph wasn't something of a clue, we should point out that the Batman of the Brave and The Bold cartoon is a square-jawed, justice-obsessed crime fighter of the Adam West type, rather than the dark and brooding Frank Miller inspired vigilante of the more recent Batman flicks. As such, he's quite kid-friendly, and the game itself is quite clearly pitched in focus and difficulty towards the younger gamer.
As a title pitched towards the younger gamer, The Brave and the Bold is relatively light on genuine challenge and mostly forgiving. Taking a leaf out of the plethora of Lego games out there, character death just penalises you coins, which are plentiful anyway, although if you do manage to keep hold of them upgrades can be purchased at the end of each level. Which begs the question: Bruce Wayne is one of Gotham's wealthiest socialites, as we're endlessly reminded. Why does he need to collect coins in order to pay for equipment at all?
Batman — and his companion, starting out with Robin — have a wide variety of moves at their disposal, but it's entirely possible to get through the game only using a few of them at once, and whenever the game does require a specific move it'll show up clearly on-screen. There's not a great deal of Wii-specific motion control required aside from light waggling to power-up attacks from the drop-in heroes that can help out intermittently and heavy attacks that you may not need to use anyway. The game also offers the facility to link up to the DS Brave and the Bold game, but we lacked a copy for testing purposes, which meant we didn't get to play as Bat-Mite. We're not sure that's enough of an inducement to buy both, frankly speaking.
If there's an obvious criticism to level at Batman: The Brave and the Bold, it's that it's not terribly deep or complex. Things do start to get a little repetitive after a couple of hours play for older gamers. Younger gamers — or at least the four- and six-year-old we roped in to help with testing — were smitten throughout. Playing in single-player mode is distinctly less thrilling, because your companion's AI is quite terrible. Be prepared to see Hawkman, Blue Beetle, Robin and Green Lantern jump into an endless series of pits and craters if you're playing this game solo.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a pretty charming game, helped along by slick animation and good voice acting bringing the generally witty script to life. The only exception here are the stock phrases used for certain special attacks and when selecting each character at the start of the level, which you'll hear over and over again endlessly.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold isn't, as Catwoman might say, purrrfect, but it's an entirely adequate slice of gaming aimed at younger Bat-fans who don't want to get annoyed with difficulty spikes or scared by some of the heavier themes implicit in other Bat titles.