Despite starring the same character, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and last year's Batman: Arkham Asylum are worlds apart. Rocksteady's game used Unreal technology to realistically render a Grim & Gritty(tm) Gotham in which Batman has to rely on his detective skills and the element of surprise to survive every encounter. The Brave and the Bold, however, is brightly colored and brimming with cartoon flourishes, and stars a Batman who punches thugs with abandon in broad daylight.

Sure, you can't silently take a henchman down from a dark corner in The Brave and the Bold, but conversely, I don't recall Arkham Asylum allowing you to team up with Green Lantern Guy Gardner to drop hard-light anvils on the Weather Wizard.

Developer WayForward has perfectly emulated both the style and structure of the Brave and the Bold TV series, in which a campy, Adam West-inspired Batman teams up with a different DC Comics hero each week. The look is absolutely faithful to the cartoon, with hand-drawn sprites, animated cutscenes, and even full-frame animation of Batman or another hero performing a finishing blow. Basically, it finally delivers on the Dragon's Lair promise of a playable cartoon.

The game is a co-op, side-scrolling brawler, with each player taking control of Batman, Robin or one of DC's finest, all of whom have their own special abilities in addition to a standard (but expansive) array of punching and kicking combos. Guy Gardner, for example, can trap enemies in a green cage, drop the aforementioned weight, and more power-ring-based tricks, while Batman has access to his Batarangs, a stun gun, and other gadgetry. Robin's special attacks are based around the use of a staff.
While you can't quite use Batman's grappling hook anywhere, characters can grapple instantaneously between platforms by pressing the minus button when an icon appears on the higher level. He can also slow his descent from high places with his cape (Robin twirls his staff helicopter-style).

For a kid-friendly game, this has some serious brawling options. You can string combos together, grab and throw enemies, use special attacks, and even call in a support character like in Marvel vs. Capcom to perform a special move. These characters are also drawn from DC Comics, and include heroes like Booster Gold and even another Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.

However, as a kid-friendly game, it did seem a bit easy. The huge variety of moves made short work of the useless thugs, and even three of Flash's Rogues at once. It could be because I was playing in early levels, or because I was playing in co-op. In either case, I kind of didn't care. I was having too much fun playing this delightful brawler. WayForward knows its WayAround 2D action, and based on the few levels I played, this is another great entry in the genre from the developer.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.