Why So Serious?Batman
is a Physical Pinball Table
designed by George Gomez
and released by Stern Pinball
Despite the title, the game is primarily based on the second movie
in Christopher Nolan
's The Dark Knight Saga
, with the player as Batman out to stop the Joker and the Scarecrow from terrorizing Gotham City's key political figures. Recruit Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox, gather equipment from the WayneTech arsenal, then rescue Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes from the Joker. Race the Batmobile off Gotham bridge and beef up the Bat-Pod's abilities, but watch out for the Scarecrow as he swings the crane around the playfield. When the Bat Signal lights up, answer the call for both the Bat Signal Challenge and Gotham City Multiball.
The original release of the game was clearly incomplete,
with some of the game modes being overly simplistic, sound cutoffs, and the absence of any sort of Wizard Mode
. This was eventually addressed two years later, when programmer Lyman Sheats released a software update that fixed numerous issues, including the addition of a "Gotham City Multiball" finale.
In 2010, Stern released a limited number of "Standard Model" Batman
tables through Costco as part of an attempt at reaching the mass market with a cheaper alternative ($700 lower than the original's price). The "Standard" game is almost the same as the arcade ("Pro") model, but without the rotating Joker reveal cylinder, the teetering Batmobile bridge, and the WayneTech mini-playfield, and with assorted software changes to match. Reportedly, only 48 of the "Standard" tables were released, making it an extremely rare (but sparse) collectable for the die-hard Batman
This Batman pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- Adaptation Expansion: The Scarecrow is much more prominent here than in The Dark Knight.
- Art Shift: The digital display mixes hand-animated graphics with clips from the movie, with unfortunately jarring results.
- Bank Robbery: "Joker Multiball" starts with Joker's gang robbing the bank.
- Bat Signal: Played straight, as the bat signal on the playfield lights up to indicate the "Bat Signal Challenge" and "Gotham City Multiball".
- Canon Foreigner: The Scarecrow's crane, which did not appear in The Dark Knight.
- Cool Bike: The Bat-Pod, prominently displayed on the cabinet sides.
- Cool Car: The Batmobile, natch.
- Emerging from the Shadows: On the original Batman table, the Joker is hidden by a black cylinder; the outer shell rotates away during gameplay to reveal him. Averted with the "Standard Edition" table, which removes the mechanism.
- Enemy Detecting Radar: In the "Locate the Joker" mission, Batman uses a handheld scanner to track the Joker as he runs around.
- Get Back Here Boss: "Scarecrow Attack", which requires the player to hit the crane's wrecking ball as it moves around the playfield.
- Indy Escape: Invoked by the Gotham bridge seesaw mechanism, which has the Batmobile outrunning a gigantic (relative to its scale) pinball.
- Knife Nut: The Joker, who's flashing his knives in some of the animations.
- Level Grinding: Collecting some of the characters requires repeating key shots over and over, with Lucius Foxnote being the worst offender.
- My Card: The Joker's playing card jokers.
- Not Quite Starring: The unidentified voice actors who replaced the movie actors. Oddly, the game uses a mix of movie clips and re-recorded dialog, making the transition more jarring.
- Fake Brit: The substitute actor for Alfred, who's clearly an American with a (bad) British accent.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: "Rescue Rachel", where Rachel is falling from the top of a skyscraper, and Batman swings in to rescue her without even a bruise.
- Obvious Beta: Some aspects of the original game software are clearly incomplete, with the missing Wizard Mode being the most obvious example. Eventually addressed in the mid-2010 software update, however.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The playfield is decorated with Dark Knight action figures, and the Batmobile is from Mattel's Hot Wheels line.
- Prop Recycling: The WayneTech mini-playfield is a rethemed version of the "Path of Souls" from The Lord of the Rings.
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: The "Standard Edition" is seen by most fans as this.
- Skill Shot: Shoot the ball into the flashing rollover lane to receive one of three rewards.
- Spelling Bonus: B-A-T-M-A-N enables the various Bat Missions.
- Stealth Pun: The crane is controlled by the Scarecrow — whose real name is Jonathan Crane.
- Weaponized Bike: The player must collect three weapons upgrades for the Bat-Pod.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: You have to collect all eight Bat-gadgets to light Lucius Fox.
- Wizard Mode: Originally subverted; collecting all eight characters in the cast lit the Bat Signal for "Final Battle", but shooting the saucer to start it simply rewarded 100 million points. A proper Wizard Mode was eventually added in the 2010 update; the "Gotham City Challenge" starts off with a 50 million saucer shot, followed by a four-ball multiball mode. Drained balls can be restored by making major shots, and completing a certain number of shots enables the Super Jackpot bonus.
- Played straight with "Bat Signal Challenge", a perfectly respectable sub-Wizard Mode. Enable the Scarecrow, the Joker, and the Batmobile, then shoot the saucer for a four-ball multiball. Make the three shots again to raise the jackpot, then shoot the saucer to collect the Super Jackpot.