Batman’s arch-nemesis, The Joker, has been with him since Detective Comics #1, but he hasn’t always gotten the greatest digital adaptations. We take a look at the best and worst examples of the world’s worst comedian in video games.
The Caped Crusader
The Joker’s first in-game appearance was in 1988’s delightfully stylized Commodore 64 adventure, in which he kidnaps Robin, which is pretty standard Joker-ish behavior. He’s also got an army of dudes and toys. Where does he get those wonderful toys?
Batman Movie Tie-Ins
The Tim Burton games allotted a lot of Joker screentime, but mostly featured Bats fighting waves of clown henchmen. In one interesting switch-up for the Mega-Drive version, Batman is forced to kick Jack Napier into a vat of chemicals, as opposed to the accident presented in the movie.
Return Of The Joker
The Joker has his own island where he plots to destroy Gotham. Batman goes to stop him, and faces the final boss form, which is a giant mech Joker that shoots lasers and drops bombs. Honestly, MechaJoker is worth the price of admission.
The Adventures of Batman and Robin
The 1994 game based on the animated series has a wildly varied storyline for the Joker based on the different game systems. On SNES, The Joker has a first level amusement park trap with a roller coaster trap for The Dark Knight, and he escapes, only to become the final level boss with a jet pack who makes a construction site his last stand. On the Sega Genesis version, The Joker is released by Mr. Freeze to distract Batman, and he goes on a robbery spree for his birthday (?) only to take on Bats from a hot air balloon. On the Sega CD version, Clayface tricks The Joker into battling Batman and the final confrontation goes down amidst exploding bumper cars.
It’s difficult to explain how The Joker is done here, since he’s a computer program embedded into Tim Drake. That said, this timed-side scroller is a disaster best left alone, unless you’re a big fan of punching escaped lab experiments.
This game just GOT the animated series and translated it into a playable, cool experience. The Joker gets “killed” and really sends his psycho girlfriend into a spiral.
Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
Boy, it should’ve been a lot more fun to fight Sub-Zero as The Joker but it just wasn’t. His brutal fatality that got removed from the game might be the most memorable thing about this game.
The Joker traps Bats in the Asylum and turns the entirety of the big baddies against him. In this game, The Joker uses Bane’s chemical to morph into a gigantic hulking monster that tries to bash Bats to death on the roof of Arkham.
Joker is a ruined husk after his overdose in the last game, on the verge of death and using his last breath to take bring down Bruce Wayne. The game ends with one of the most poignant and complicated Batman and Joker showdowns of all time.
Holy cow this is great. Joker lives within Batman as a tainted batch of blood that is slowly driving him insane, allowing The Joker to take control of his body and show him a horrifying future where he brings down Gotham himself. This is as good as it gets — cutting directly to the terrifying truth of the character.