Last week, I kind of ranted at the idea of the rumours of the Arkham games delving into prequel territory. And while, I mostly think this is a bad idea, at the same time I trust the writers and developers. A few years ago, the very idea of a superhero game was laughable and Arkham proved us all wrong. I have faith in this upcoming game. Therefore to balance out the hate I have decided to come up with four reasons that a prequel could be a smart move for the series.
4 – AN ORIGIN FOR THE JOKER WOULD BE KIND OF COOL
The whole line of thinking behind the prequel is the idea that the Batman and Joker meeting for the first time would make an awesome story. And that is pretty true. One of the things I loved about the ‘Dark Knight’ movie was the idea that Batman first only saw the Joker as a petty thug. Only the audience had an idea of how much of an impact the villain would make on his life. We could get the same feeling with the game. We know all of Joker’s little tricks: the fake explosions, the red herrings, the lack of motive behind his crimes… Batman in a prequel wouldn’t know that. He would be chasing up a lead only to walk into a trap set by the cunning clown. And we would totally see it coming and be helpless to stop it.
I would be careful about the word ‘origin’ though. I don’t want the Joker’s origin, I want a first encounter story. My favourite thing about the Joker is the idea that no one really knows where he came from. He just rocked up into Gotham one day and started causing havoc for the fun of it. It would be kind of cool if Batman tried to get into the mind of the Joker, only to end the game no closer to the answer than he began. As we have seen from the audio tapes unlockable in the first game, this mystery around the character is a theme the writers like, so it is unlikely the Joker will get a full reveal. And I am very happy about that.
3 – YOU WILL BECOME A PART OF ARKHAM HISTORY
Batman has been going on for a long time now, so we just assume that all of the villains hate his guts. So when we face off against the Penguin in ‘Arkham City’ and he is livid with rage at the very sight of us. We assume that just comes with the territory of being Batman, but what if you could add some depth to that. Sure, it is hinted that the prequel is all about Joker, but I reckon there wouldn’t be much problem with slipping some additional bad guys into the mix. Maybe you also stop the rising empire of the Penguin (or put it on hold). Maybe in the prequel, you start off the grudge that carries throughout the Batman canon.
Cue to the next time you play ‘Arkham City’. When the Penguin section begins, the prequel’s story would be triggered in your memory. That’s why Penguin hates me so much… last game, I destroyed his plans. It would add a bit more shape to the character, rather than having a lazy background story. Personally, I think that would be exactly what the fans would want from the idea of a prequel.
2 – THE LITTLE DETAILS
As ever the best thing about the Arkham games is the background details. You play in a world that obviously has had a lot of effort put into it. Every alleyway probably has a little Easter egg that a knowledgeable fan will go mad over. Can you imagine the potential of that in the Easter eggs?
Hypothetically, let’s say that at some point in the prequel you need to save a doctor from some of Joker’s men. This isn’t a wide stretch of imagination, because that is pretty much 50% of the game’s content. Now let’s say that this doctor is named Dr. Thomas Elliott. That is all his involvement in the game’s plot; just a character to be rescued. But the hardcore Batman fan will know the name as the doctor that will eventually become the feared killer, Hush, aka the guy who rips people’s faces off and wears them. Just a little detail like that can take this game from good to down right amazing.
1 – THE STORY HAS FUTURE MEANING
Let me embellish.
I am a massive Tomb Raider fan and Legends made me fall back in love with the game. The sequel was a remastered version of the very first game, which I was fine with being a prequel, because it was the Anniversary game. However, what was really cool and imaginative of the writers that they used this flashback game to build up the plot for the second part of the Legend story. The real villain behind the events was Natla, the bad guy in the Anniversary game. I thought this was a really awesome thing to do.
Let’s do that with Arkham Prequel. The Joker may be dead, but maybe he had some contingency plan. Perhaps he has had this plan, since his very first appearance. In this prequel, Batman thwarts the Joker, but is unaware that the Joker has already set up some long term trap. Maybe a nuclear bomb that is triggered when his pulse is stopped. A nuclear bomb that would have been activated as soon as Arkham City ended.
And then we have a fourth game with a story already set up to be dived straight into. As soon as the game opens, we have the action in our face. Personally, I think that would be ingenious and definitely would make me forgive the writers for cutting away from the canon in order to explore a prequel. Just about…