Skipping the Asylum for the City, or, once again enjoying Mark Hamill’s company

I’ll readily admit that I don’t always make the best choices.  I’ll usually pick Doritos over carrot sticks; I’ve bought pairs of shoes that barely saw the light of day before being sent to Goodwill; and maybe I shouldn’t have picked up Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Pineapple Express on BluRay.  I also should have played Batman: Arkham Asylum when I had the chance back in 2009.  But, being headlong into other game addictions at that time, I paid the game little mind.  Sure, I watched my husband play several levels and thought “detective mode” was mildly interesting, but it didn’t strike me as a game that I wanted to play.  My relationship with Batman had only gone as far as the campy TV series and recent movies, and I was fine with that.

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to 2011. It’s summer and we’re watching coverage of Batman: Arkham City at E3.  Maybe it was the addition of Catwoman, maybe it was the super gritty feel of the environment, maybe it was the talk of the improved world and gameplay, I don’t know; but I was impressed. (My better half had decided to buy any sequel to Arkham Asylum, so he was more than ready for it.)  Arkham City’s mid October release date took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to arrive; but sure enough, we placed a pre-order for the PS3 version and waited.

Batman: Arkham City cover art © Rocksteady Studios, Warner Brothers (source)

And then we played.

He got to the game first as I was occupied by Fable 3 and Uncharted 3.  But then, Battlefield 3 was released and he had some shooting with friends to do, which left Arkham City open as fair game.  I again contemplated skipping it thinking that maybe I should somehow play Arkham Asylum first.  But having watched the first several scenes of the game, I knew that events in the first game were marginally covered, so I knew I wouldn’t be completely blind going in.  I expected to have a pretty good time playing, and I did.  What I didn’t expect was to be captivated by the story.

Making copiiiieees, for the B-Man! Haha, SNL? Rob Schnie…oh forget it. (source)

Even though the game is many months old now and has received tons of reviews, I won’t spoil the story here for those that haven’t yet or plan to play it, but man oh man, the game was as fantastic as reading a great book.  I didn’t want to put down the controller for fear of forgetting all the preceding events.  If I had had the stamina to play the game in one fell swoop, I probably would have.  And I’m pretty sure that the game made me fall in love with Mark Hamill all over again.  Sure, he was cute as the mop-headed Jedi Luke Skywalker, and who could forget his memorable turn as Cocknocker in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; but as the Joker, well…he was downright awesome.  I know that he’s the voice of the Joker in the animated Batman series and movies and has successfully worked for decades as a voice actor (seriously, have you seen his IMDB page?!).  I’ve heard him as the Joker before, but I guess I never spent that much time actually listening to him.  Even in Arkham City, the situation being what it was, Hamill brought the Joker to life.  He was heartfelt, crazy sexy, and plain ol’ insane.

When I say crazy sexy, I mean CrAzY SeXy. (source)

To Hamill’s credit (okay, everyone else was pretty damn good to), I was incredibly moved by the game’s events.  I’d easily chalk up Arkham City’s story as one of the best in video games.  And I’m sure that fully knowing the events of Arkham Asylum would only add to that.

At some point, I’m going to discuss Uncharted 2, which is high up on the list of the best games I’ve ever played.  Though I’ve played through the story mode of Arkham City, I still have dozens of other side quests and the Catwoman levels to play through.  I have a feeling that once I continue and complete it, Arkham City will sit proud along side Uncharted 2.

Catwoman FTW! As it should be. (source)


P. S. This has nothing to do with Arkham City and everything to do with Mark Hamill.  Thanks for scrolling down further to read. And yes, that link does take you to the International Mark Hamill Fan Club.  You’re welcome.

During my late high school/early college years, with the release of Timothy Zahn’s (and other) Star Wars books, my interest in the movies was revitalized.  But instead of doing like I had done before and put the movies in constant loop in my VCR, I sought out other movies done by the three main leads, Hamill, Ford, and Fisher.  I saw some movies via cable — Mosquito Coast, Postcards from the Edge, The Big Red One, Corvette Summer, Under the Rainbow, Witness, and by god see Witness if you haven’t — but I had heard that Mark Hamill had done a handful of low-budget sci-fi movies, which were harder to find.  (At this time, I was also the world’s biggest MST3K fan, so I was all about low-budget sci-fi.)  Thankfully, our hometown video store, had a wonderfully large selection of sci-fi movies, no-, low-, and high-budget included.  There I found three Mark Hamill sci-fi movies, Slipstream, Guyver, and Time Runner.  I can’t really recommend these movies as they aren’t very good (today’s equivalent might be the SyFy original movies, except with less Debbie Gibson), but I think they’re worthy of viewing at least once.  In my mind, Mark Hamill will always have sci-fi roots, so it was fun seeing him take on different roles in different universes, and with crazy hair/facial hair to boot.  If you do want to have a “Mark Hamill sci-fi movie night,” and have the wherewithal to track down these movies, you’re efforts would not be in vain.  Though, to make them a little more tolerable, how about adding a drinking game?  Do a shot whenever Hamill let’s out an *exasperated sigh,” or gives a character his “you have GOT to be effin kidding me” look (i.e. the look he always gave Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back.)   Your level of intoxication will vary depending on which movie you start with, but you’re bound to have a good time.

P.P.S. Looky here — you kept scrolling you wonderful reader!  Due to your perseverance and willingness to read, I hereby reward you with a link: At the Buzzer.  This entertaining site is run by three very entertaining guys, with several friends, out of Arizona. (See, Arizona has some good things.)  It contains daily blog posts on a variety of topics — including video games — as well as their weekly podcast episodes.  I highly recommend the site, but especially their podcasts, which are simply fantastic!  Humor, wit, topical (sorta) talk, and love of food, sports, games, and kitties – they have it all.  This week marks their 50th podcast (many congrats guys!), which promises to be jam-packed and celebratory.  It’ll go up Thursday (and new podcasts go up every Thursday), so put down that controller for an hour, pause your Mark Hamill drinking game, and listen in!


      • I was really disappointed when he said he would no longer be doing the Joker voice, then happy when he came back and did it anyway. 😀 I hope he never officially quit voicing Joker.


        • Indeed! I didn’t know about his original decision until I started keeping up with Arkham City news. Can’t imagine the game without him.


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