nullFROM SPLASHPAGE: Based on the award-winning, best-selling “LEGO Batman” video game released earlier this year, “Gotham City Games” will offer 16 mini-games that take players deep inside Wayne Manor.

Read more about "Lego Batman" on the iPhone at

Dying in video games, like in real life, seems to be a natural part of the process. You play, therefore you die -- and you usually have to start over.

But does it have to be that way?

Not necessarily. I recently spoke to three developers who've all been making dying in games a little less painful. They explained to me why they're saying no to "game over" screens in their games and what they tell critics who claim they're making video games too easy.

So here's what the makers of "Mushroom Men," "LEGO Batman," and "Prince of Persia" had to say...

[Image: Michael Talbot]


While the last two Batman films have done well both critically and commercially, most of the previous games for the franchise haven't had as much luck, to put it nicely.

And even though this summer's "The Dark Knight" was one of the biggest movies in history, there hadn't even been a Batman game released this year until this week.

With "Lego Batman: The Videogame" is in stores this week, I spoke with the game's lead designer, Jonathan Smith, on Monday about his thoughts on transforming the iconic superhero into block form and how the caped crusader's sorry video game legacy and amazing movie did -- or didn't -- shape his team's game.

(And, no, Smith can't talk to us about why there's no "Dark Knight" game, rumored or otherwise. What "Dark Knight" game?) Read More...

Yesterday, those in the New York City area were able stop by the public "Lego Batman" launch event.

The party was held in the Weston Pavilion at the American Museum of Natural History to celebrate the release of the new Lego title, in stores this week. Passersby and press were invited to play the game and enjoy free carnival-type food and activities themed around "Lego Batman."

If you couldn't make it, check out photos of the event. Read More...

After what seems like an eternity, today "Lego Batman: The Video Game" is in stores on multiple platforms.

The game marks the first time a "Lego" title by TT Games isn't entirely based on the plot of an existing movie, so even longtime Batman fans and "Lego" players may be in for a surprise. Luckily, our new feature, the "must-do list," has developers telling players about the cool things they must see and do when they visit their game.

For "Lego Batman," producer Loz Doyle gave us the rundown of 10 essential tasks, as well as a pair of exclusive images...

TT Games' Must-Do List For Players of
"Lego Batman"

(Multi-platform Action Adventure, September 2008)

1) Use Bane's signature move on Batman and relive the classic Knightfall moment.

2) See The Joker's impish side by moving him veeeeery slowly, and be sure to check out The Joker's more "tropical" attire (see above). Read More...

You may have already seen a lot about the "Lego Batman: The Videogame," but how much have you seen of the villains? See our exclusive character trailer showcasing the bad guys you’ll face, including a glimpse at The Riddler’s mind control.

You can also check out some exclusive screenshots from the game depicting The Joker, Man-Bat and a cast of other characters in action.

Related Posts:
TT Games' Must-Do List For 'Lego Batman: The Videogame' Players
Exclusive: See A New 'LEGO Batman' Villain
'LEGO Batman' Features Better Camera, Original Story And Villains' Point Of View

"The thing about Lego [is that] it's a tool for being creative. So it's great when you have creative ideas and can take it to different places. I think [the public relations department] will not stop me from categorically saying: We're not making 'Lego Halo.' ... 'Halo' is not a game that is age-rated for young players, and it's not appropriate for us to sort of recruit people into that experience."

TT Games studio head and lead "LEGO Batman" designer Jonathan Smith on the feasibility of making a "LEGO Halo" based on EGM's April Fool's joke, during a telephone interview with MTV Multiplayer this morning.

Don't get me wrong. I like "LEGO Indiana Jones" -- my girlfriend and I are currently working through the "Temple of Doom" section -- but it's a deeply flawed game.

What "Indiana Jones" proved is that the LEGO formula doesn't work perfectly with every universe. There aren't enough action sequences or memorable characters in the Indy franchise to make a LEGO game about it nearly as pleasurable as the "Star Wars" installments.

That's not a problem for "LEGO Batman." My recent 20 minutes of playtime with the latest LEGO game avoided every pitfall "Indiana Jones" fell in.


The media had two hours to run around the Penny Arcade Expo hall before the masses.

This gave me a chance to check out a few games -- some I've played, some I haven't. I'll have detailed impressions next week, but some quick thoughts:

"Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" -- This build had The Joker and Kitana as playable characters. The Joker isn't a character for new comers; his moves aren't easy to decipher, but I couldn't help but laugh at him dancing around, laughing after hitting Batman with a cheap shot to the face. Kitana, however, feels just like she did in "Mortal Kombat II."

"Left 4 Dead" -- Valve was showing the Xbox 360 version for the first time. Other than a resolution difference, there's not much to report. It's still one of my most anticipated games. I also played with the A.I. for the first time; more next week.

"LEGO Batman" -- It's impressive how much better this one actually looks over its "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" counterparts. And whereas "Indiana Jones" was stretching to incorporate enough characters and action events, the Batman universe provides more than enough for Traveller's Tales to play with.

I'll be at PAX all weekend. Check back for more soon!

[Image Credit: Warner Bros.]

legobatman_01_281×211.jpgSan Francisco -- After making three "LEGO Star Wars" games, you'd think Traveller's Tales would have it down pat by now.

But lightsabers and Batarangs aren't quite the same thing.

"LEGO Batman: The Videogame" producer Loz Doyle told me at the Game Developers Conference last month that the team is still working on what the Wii version's control scheme will be like. "We've been messing around with the different ways we can do the Batarang," he said. "We don't want people throwing their Wii-motes out the window. I can just imagine mothers calling us up. We are working on it."

So while I didn't a chance to see the Wii version of the game, Doyle gladly demo-ed the Xbox 360 version for me in a W Hotel suite, a block away from GDC.

With Doyle having worked on all three incarnations of the "LEGO Star Wars" games, I wondered what it was like for him to transition to a new IP. "It was quite strange at first because I've been doing 'Star Wars' since 2003 or something, so then I had to switch to a completely different universe and different characters," he said. However, Doyle and co. were allowed more creative freedom this time around, since the games aren't strictly based on movies like "LEGO Star Wars" was.

The game is broken up into 18 levels, with three different story arcs (six levels per story arc) featuring the standard two-player, drop-in/out cooperative play (online co-op play is available for the Xbox 360 and PS3). The stories were penned by Traveller's Tales, with approval from Warner Bros. and DC Comics after they were written. "It seemed only natural that the over-arching story was a big breakout from Arkham Asylum," Doyle said. "Once they broke out from Arkham Asylum, they break off into three groups, which enables us to have three stories that aren't linked to each other."

They weren't inspired by any one medium: "I think everyone on the team has at some point watched all the films, the TV series, the animated series, read the comics," he said. "We've got some massive Batman fans up at Traveller's Tales, so that was really useful. But yeah, I don't think we took particular inspiration from a specific film or TV show, it's more that we kind of looked at a character, and we built the story up based on how that character would behave."

While I didn't get my hands on the controller, I did bombard Doyle with questions as he played through some early levels. Read on...


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