Return to Arkham Asylum may have been out for a fair while now, but that hasn't caused the buzz for it to fizzle out, nor has it revoked our ability to continue singing its praises. After all, it's considered timeless in its own unique sort of way, and is still very much branded as a staple on modern day gaming in general. Sure enough, that's exactly why we're happy to return to Arkham time and time again, knowing full well what treasures loom on the other side.
But let's talk about Rocksteady's debut in the Arkham saga — Asylum. It's been a talking point in the beat 'em up community for years now, with its bosses still effortlessly managing to inspire new generations of villains and matching level designs. But if we, as a small unit, had to rank the five best boss encounters in all of Asylum, then it would have to look a little something like this. Cue the Bat-Signal.
Let's get this right out of the way and say, despite the legendary feud between the two, Joker really wasn't all that great when it came to the grand finale with Batman. And if anything, it sort of felt rushed and seriously watered down, almost as if the devs simply couldn't be bothered to construct anything remotely complex to finish the game off. Instead, the featured boss fight was basically made up of button mashing, and then rinsing and repeating a few times until complete.
Okay, so it's a beat 'em up game, so hammering buttons was sort of expected. But considering the amount of creativity Rocksteady poured into the other boss encounters, it sort of felt like a slap to the face and nothing more. It wasn't exactly satisfying — and it should have been. It all came down to this standoff between Batman and Joker on the roof of Arkham Asylum, but sadly, it just sort of ended before it even started to get the slightest bit interesting.
Although arguably one of the more threatening foes in the Arkham roster, Bane definitely wasn't the toughest boss battle in the series. Brutal, yes. Powerful, yes. But also very predictable and clunky, like a hefty set of drawers trying to perform a ballet masterclass. And it's because of that predictability, that beating him really wasn't all that difficult. If anything, it was an absolute walk in the park.
We've definitely encountered bosses like Bane before, that's for sure. The routine has been rehashed more times than we care to think of, and our strategy for beating it has basically become engraved in our core memories, allowing our muscle memory to do the work while we yawn and drift off to worlds unknown. Bane charges into wall — Batman pummels Bane — Bane falls down. You get the picture. It's nothing special.
3. Killer Croc
Nobody thought it would be possible to feel utterly terrified in a Batman game. As the renowned hero with a keen eye for combat and a high tolerance over fear, it just didn't seem remotely possible. And yet — Killer Croc extracted such emotions without even having to swing a claw. And next to Scarecrow, he was, in all honesty, one of the creepiest foes in the entire Arkham timeline.
Although not exactly a boss in the traditional sense, Killer Croc still posed as an obstacle in the grimy sewers of the Arkham allotment. Unfortunately for us, in order to extract samples for a cure, we had to tiptoe through said sewers and avoid the towering reptile. And boy, those Baterangs were like guardian angels for what felt like an eternity in the darkest depths of hell.
Rocksteady definitely could've played it safe and done something relatively simple with Scarecrow. Instead, they toyed with the design and pushed the boat out, using innovation to drive the ominous villain into unsettling new heights. Through twisted hallucinations, the sinister foe sprung to life, combining Batman's deepest fears with contorted playgrounds without boundaries.
Over several encounters, we were made to ascend a spiralling labyrinth of platforms, using stealth as a first line of defence against Scarecrow's razor-sharp vision. One wrong move and we'd be plucked from the board like a flee on a scalp, right around the time our hearts would pound from our chests in terror. Again, not exactly a boss fight — but definitely one of the most creative enemy encounters in the game.
1. Poison Ivy
Not only was Poison Ivy one of the best boss fights in the Arkham chapter, but perhaps one of the most challenging in the series to date. Everything about it just oozed perfection, right down to the intricate patterns Ivy executed like clockwork. Weaved with a grassy kingdom and a quarters chock-full of deranged inmates that would bend over backwards to see the queen of the green rise to power, the package just felt, I don't know — polished.
Poison Ivy might not have had a major role in the first leg of the Arkham journey, but she definitely held her own and gave us a lot to take away, despite only having minutes on-screen. It was all in all a jam-packed battle with plenty to keep Ivy's poisonous persona thriving in a league of its own. It was Arkham Asylum‘s best of the best, vines and all.
So, how would you rank the Arkham Asylum bosses? Do you agree with our list? Let us know over on our socials here.