Never mind that I'm well into my 40s -- I have deep, unyielding love for the Lego series of video games. Improbably great, they've drawn from a wellspring of movie series -- "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," "Lord of the Rings," and more -- in creating charming, amusing, full-for-all-ages action-adventures.
And let's not forget the superhero genre, which continued last November with the release of a third game featuring everyone's favorite dark knight: Lego Batman: Beyond Gotham, which debuted today for iOS.
The plot, in case you need one: Batman and Robin -- and a whole bunch of other familiar Justice League characters -- join forces to defeat supervillain Brainiac. The action unfurls across 45 missions, and along the way you get to play as over 100 characters (some of which must be unlocked at you progress).
In case you're unfamiliar with Lego games, they're a great mix of puzzles and arcade-style action sequences. But although they're heavy on combat, it's totally bloodless, and no more violent than a Nerf sword fight. The emphasis is just as much on puzzle-solving, and as a parent, I'd much rather see my kids spending time here than scoping out head shots in Call of Duty.
They're also quite funny, combining broad slapstick with lots of clever jokes. Granted, some of them are aimed more at adults, and that's definitely true here as the game veers into classic TV-Batman territory. (Hello, Adam West! He's among a handful of celebrities who lend their voice talents to the game.)
I especially loved hearing Danny Elfman's iconic score, though it's ironic when you consider the game itself borrows little from the 90s- era "Batman" movies from which the music originated.
If you want a more in-depth look at the game, let me steer you to GameSpot's review of the console version -- which has arguably the best subtitle ever: "The Brick Knight Rises." Despite a few dings for technical issues and insufficient focus on Batman himself (the game is called "Beyond Gotham," though), it earned a solid rating "thanks to the Lego series' endearing foundation of infectious charm and good-natured humor."
Lego Batman: Beyond Gotham is available now in the App Store for $4.99.