Arkham Asylum EP8: Some Kid’s Parents Died!

By Shamus
on Jun 25, 2015
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

We have a long-running joke among the cast that we say awful racist things when not recording”Oh, you’re recording now? Man, I’m glad I got all that hateful stuff about Chinese people out of my system earlier!”. And then sometimes we make up fake racism to joke about how we’re not recording yet, or that we need to get all our racism out before we start recording. So the screwy tirade about Canadians was a reference to the fact that this footage wasn’t supposed to go in the show. And then Josh left it in. I wouldn’t mind (Josh trolling us is one of our running gags.) but this racism joke will only make sense to members of the castAnd really, it’s not so much a “funny” joke as an idle way of dealing with the paranoia of recording hours and hours of unplanned commentary for a large audience every week, and also a way of making the “are we recording yet?” conversations less tedious..

So if that bit didn’t make sense… hopefully now it makes slightly less not-sense.

For the record: I’m okay with Canadians coming to America, as long as they learn English first.

The “Batman is sad” footage Chris was talking about is a reference to this video that Chris made about Arkham Origins.

“Batman agonizing over his dead parents” has now been featured in every Arkham game.

I’m going to straight-up recant what I said in this episode about allowing the game to continue if you failed to save Dr. Doctor M.D. from Zsasz. It’s true that it doesn’t make any difference to the plot, but it does break Batman’s trait of hyper-competence and obsession with saving everyone. A failure like, “I wasn’t fast enough, and someone died.” is a HUGE deal for Batman. It does happen once in a while, but it’s usually part of some sort of character-building moment. It would be the kind of thing he would agonize over for the rest of the game, and would need to be incorporated into some sort of arc. It’s totally inappropriate to have a failure like that stand without giving it the attention it deserves.

Batman doesn’t see the death by exploding safe as his fault, because he couldn’t have saved her from that. He’s spent his life training to resolve hostage situations, ambush people, and hit stuff with Batarangs, so that failure would sting in a way that the exploding safe doesn’t.

The game makes it a little hard to follow the business with the formula because it doesn’t establish the moving parts before they come into play. We just know that “Joker wants the formula.” We don’t know how many copies there are, or what form they take. Batman burns that scrap of paper and we assume, “Oh, I guess that’s it?” No wait! He can get it from Dr. Young. But then she dies. So was the formula in that safe? No, that had security codes for where the existing Titan formula is being stored. But if Joker was already here to trap the safe, why was Harley here? Was she going to recover Dr. Young from Zsasz? Or Batman?

And then you think, “Oh, Joker doesn’t get the formula. He just gets his hands on the existing stockpile.” But no, later we get audio of him making more.

I’m not going to call it a plot hole, but I will say this entire sequence is incredibly muddled. It’s not that the story can’t make sense, it’s that we were never given enough information to understand what we’re being shown. That would be okay if it was part of the ongoing mystery, but Batman seems to know what’s going on. He just hasn’t taken the time to explain things to the player.

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Footnotes:

[1] ”Oh, you’re recording now? Man, I’m glad I got all that hateful stuff about Chinese people out of my system earlier!”

[2] And really, it’s not so much a “funny” joke as an idle way of dealing with the paranoia of recording hours and hours of unplanned commentary for a large audience every week, and also a way of making the “are we recording yet?” conversations less tedious.



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From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    For the record: I’m okay with Canadians coming to America, as long as they learn English first.

    Dont you mean american?Because you yanks dont know a thing about english.

  2. Thomas says:

    If they’d allowed different paths and choices in a Batman game, I think that would have felt weird.

    Part of Batman’s gimmick is how good he is at the job. A Batman Gambit is the name for a plot where a bunch of stuff happens and then Batman shows up at the end and says “That was my plan all along.”

    Having choices makes Batman seem less exceptional. He’s no longer the superhuman detective, because it’s your skill and thoughts driving his actions and you’re very much human.

    The one time when something less linear might be more appropriate would be if the story was about one of the few times Batman was vulnerable. Maybe if Batman had let himself fall for Talia and his feelings were overriding his senses, you could mechanise that by allowing the player to make choices for Batman, or to allow the player to screw things up.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I must say I like how all the mooks are always hunched,making batman always seem like he is towering over everyone(except the super mooks).

  4. Blovsk says:

    Personally I think the Scarecrow stuff was better for giving you an impression of the villain than any of the other boss stuff in the game. Yeah, it’s lightweight gameplay but it’s at least ludonarratively satisfying.

    • MrGuy says:

      Agree completely. I don’t think that “platforming!” as a combat mechanic works, but the lead-ins to the Scarecrow sections are really interesting and satisfying. Scarecrow’s modus operandi is more canonical than (for example) Riddler or any of the other “rogues gallery” villains in the other Arkham games. Plus they give the writers some opening to inject more of Batman’s personal story and motivations into the game without doing campy flashback cutscenes.

      I do think the platforming sections reinforce the point that “the devs really didn’t have any ideas on how to make interesting boss fights mechanically.” But everything but the combat is really cool.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        “Plus they give the writers some opening to inject more of Batman’s personal story and motivations into the game without doing campy flashback cutscenes.”

        Except all they do with it is “Some kid’s parents died.”

        They were given openings, and they couldn’t even expand Batman’s personal backstory to include his pets.

        • Chauzuvoy says:

          Scarecrow section 1: Batman is confronted with the spectre of his murdered parents.
          Scarecrow section 2: Batman is confronted with the spectre of his third-grade class guinnea pig that he forgot to feed, but he blamed Timmy Nolan which looking back just makes him feel even worse.
          Scarecrow section 3: Batman is confronted with the chilling consequences of his decision not to go vegan, in the form of the spectre of the steak he ate last night. Later he has a heartfelt conversation about it with Poison Ivy. It doesn’t go well.

  5. modus0 says:

    So, Batman finally manages to knock someone out with a Batarang.

    Would be nice to be able to do that to regular mooks…

    • MrGuy says:

      It’s funny. You have these throwable items, that are at times shown to be razor sharp (e.g. when they cut through the rope holding the chandelier in the library, when they cut down the bell). They’re also able to penetrate metal electrical junction boxes (and magically repair the circuits inside like The Fonz hitting a jukebox, but that’s a different crazy function). So they’ve got some heft and penetrating power to them.

      But when Batman throws one of these at a mook, and hits the mook square in the face with them, somehow they’re reduced to “Ow, that kind of hurt! Hey, please stop that!” level damage.

      Consider this a petition for counting anyone hit with a batarang in the “maimed” category.

      • Syal says:

        No, see, he’s hitting people with the hilt of the batarang. It’s perfectly harmless.

      • Taellosse says:

        You talk like he has only one kind of batarang. Madness! He’s got sharp batarangs and blunt ones, magical circuitry-fixing ones and remote-pilotable ones, and many more. And he always pulls out the right kind at the right moment, despite keeping them all in exactly the same place (a pouch on his belt that never runs out. Probably because it is actually a tiny 3D printer that can instantly create custom batarangs).

  6. Tuskin says:

    The scarecrow you guys want, is kind of in Knight. Haha. You almost described him perfectly.

  7. Viktor says:

    5:00 Because fuck Killing Joke, that’s why Mumbles. I’d be perfectly happy if that never showed up again. It shouldn’t have been canon in the first place. Can we just have Oracle without having to mention the worst writing Barbara ever went through?

    (The comic itself isn’t bad, it’s just TERRIBLE with Babs and was never meant to be canon so seeing it brought up whenever she appears in anything gets grating fast.)

    • Micamo says:

      DC burying The Killing Joke would be like Marvel undoing One More Day.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        It’s kind of worse than that; I mean, One More Day at least can be ignored by not being referenced – Oracle, at least from what I’ve read as an outsider, basically has The Killing Joke being the origin story for her not being Batgirl.

        Which means when Oracle shows up here, it’s, at least to someone not versed in the lore, kind of implied it’s canon and already happened. Most of One More Day doesn’t, to my knowledge, ever blend into other Spiderman canon stuff.

      • Taellosse says:

        You mean like it seems they’re in the process of doing right now with Secret Wars?

        It appears that what they’re going to end up with is Miles Morales as Spider-Man full time, while the new Peter Parker will be his semi-retired mentor, Peter and MJ will be married again, with a ~10-year-old daughter (probably named May). It’s uncertain at the moment, since Secret Wars is still underway, but we know that Miles Morales will have an ongoing solo comic as Spider-Man, and be a member of some form of the Avengers after it’s all over. And the Spider-Man tie-in story features a version of Peter who is married with a kid.

    • Mumbles says:

      YEESH don’t take it out on me!! THE TRUTH IS I actually don’t really care for the comic either. I mean it’s pretty good and there’s a lot worse shit out there. It’s one of those things you think is “deep” when you’re thirteen lol.

      • hborrgg says:

        Hey mumbles, I have a batman question from Arkham Knight. Who is the Firefly and why is the Batmobile so flammable?

      • Jakale says:

        One way they could still play on that same “you can’t stop villains from hurting people” theme, without getting into what is apparently a touchy plot subject with fans, is use the game events. In the first vision, we got the fakeout death with Gordon, but as Josh keeps pointing out whenever we meet Asylum employees, those people are not safe here. The guards in the main yard, Dr. Young, this nurse dude and guard we just saved. Batman didn’t save them while he was on the island, he probably didn’t save them by directing them to a safe place after saving them once before, and he didn’t even save Young while he was still in the room and having saved her twice.

        You can absolutely have these facts manifest as doubts and fears in Scarecrow scenes. This is Arkham Asylum, where the a lot of villains go AFTER Batman wins and saves the city from them. If they can run amok here and kill all these people tasked with the job of keeping them from everyone else, what can he do?

        You even have the set-up in the beginning where Joker gives him a chance to knock him down the big hole and the guards you meet talking about how these criminals should be killed, since rehabilitation isn’t working and they keep killing people.

        Imagine hallucinated ghosts of all these people he hasn’t saved because of all these villains that he’s “stopped” but are never really made safe to be around and all because Batman brought Joker here, Batman didn’t figure the plan out fast enough,Batman didn’t take Joker out when he had the chance, before Joker could hurt all these people.
        That’s some meaty stuff to play around with if you have an endgame that can show us why Batman works the way he does, why he doesn’t kill all these criminals or encourage the city to do so through the justice system.

        • Henson says:

          It’s a fine idea, but risks the Mass Effect Jenkins/Ghost Kid problem, of expecting us to feel some sort of emotional pull to the death of characters we barely know. It’s much more effective to use characters that we know hold emotional weight for the characters.

          Personally, I think the Barbara Gordon/Oracle regret flashback idea is a good one, but has two problems 1) not nearly as many people are familiar with this event as they are with Batman’s parents, which may leave a large chunk of the audience confused, and 2) there are a significant number of people who are very vocal in their dislike of this plot point. In the end, going with Batman’s parents is the safer, if more bland, route.

          • Jakale says:

            Fair point, I was imagining it as something similar to Metal Gear Solid 3’s boss sequence with The Sorrow where you have to walk past every enemy you’ve killed in the game while they attack and occasionally yell at you for it, so more of a mood flavor hallway like the Crime Alley here before hitting the boss proper, maybe with more Joker commentary about what a failure Batman is at hero-ing.

            Off topic, I though Crime Alley was a mental metaphor name when I saw it in the sequence, but that is apparently the actual name of the street.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            of expecting us to feel some sort of emotional pull to the death of characters we barely know.

            The problem with that wasnt that it was a character we barely know,but that it was a character shepard had no connection with.If throughout the game(s) it was hammered in that shepard has this need to save everyone,it would be different.And its not hard to portray batman as someone who has the need to save everyone,because he is batman.In fact,thats what makes the end scene in city work,and why you dont just go “why the fuck are you sad for the villain batman?”.

            • Henson says:

              Yeah, that’s probably a better explanation. Really, thinking on it, the Jenkins situation wasn’t really badly handled in Mass Effect, which makes sense with the ‘connection to the characters’ framework, since Jenkins and Shepard clearly have worked together for a while, but Shepard and RandomKid haven’t.

              Still, I’d be wary of bringing in all the Arkham staff Batman failed to save because Batman doesn’t seem to have much connection to them, either. You could make it work, but you’d have to make sure it’s supported by his relation to the characters earlier on.

              • Syal says:

                Have a Scarecrow section where you’re fighting thugs to save people, and when the people thank you and leave they immediately run into some kind of deathtrap, or more thugs with guns. Just a quick “have you really saved anyone” bit.

                Or you beat up a villain, and when you move on the villain gets up, follows behind you and shoots any friendlies you come across. And you can knock them down again but they keep getting back up.

              • Thomas says:

                Jenkin’s was bad just because of the way they wrote it, not because of it happening. All his dialogue whilst he was alive was “Oh gosh look how young and naive I am, it sure would be sad if I were about to die”.

                And then when he died it was by charging in front of two pathetically weak enemies (whilst you didn’t follow him) with some terrible, terrible animation.

  8. Phantos says:

    I’m glad Chris noticed Sharpe is voiced by the same guy who played Mr. Herriman.

    I still remember his small part of the xenophobic street guy in the first level of KOTOR.

    A friend of mine thought it would be funny to use that audio over a clip of Mr. Herriman. “Geez, Foster’s got pretty racist in the last season…”

  9. Phantos says:

    The Scarecrow platforming stuff isn’t great, but at the same time I think I’d rather the game have it than not. Just as a break from the mook-punching and vent-crawling.

    At least it wasn’t a bunch of quicktime events or something stupid.

    • Viktor says:

      Yeah, I don’t know why Josh is having so much trouble with it. It’s not great gameplay, and fixed-camera platforming in 3d is universally a bad idea, but I appreciate the attempt and the break between mook beatdowns.

  10. The reason Asylum feels more ‘real’ than City is cause it’s scaled properly. As Chris says, the scope of the game matches the size of the setting.

    City does not have that at. ALL.

    The layout of City immediately feels false and contrived. Like Chris already mentioned, the alleyway being a foot long, the villains being a ‘boss’ of an ‘area’. But also the physical layout of the actual game and how this ‘city’ doesn’t even remotely resemble the design of an actual city block. There’s no cross streets, it’s just this haphazard array of buildings arranged in such a way as to keep the draw distance manageable. The game is just constantly straining to validate its own size and failing almost every single time.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      To be fair, there IS a canonical explanation for the design of Gotham City, and it involves its arquitect, Cyrus Pinkney, being sort of a madman. It would be nice if the game explained it, or at least referenced it, though. Origins talks about Pinkney, but I don’t remember if it references the city’s layout.

      • Taellosse says:

        Because Gotham City, which is a deliberate, if darker, echo of New York, was designed by one guy? Most cities don’t work like that – they grow organically over time to fill available topography, and no one person is responsible for very much (Washington DC being a rare exception, as it actually was designed with deliberate intent). This is why city streets are so often haphazard – they were not laid out rationally as a complete whole, but gradually on an as-needed basis, often created for older forms of transportation. Some cities, like New York and Chicago, are more rational than others, like Boston, because large portions of them were destroyed and had to be rebuilt all at once.

        That said, Arkham City still strains credulity in how it’s laid out, even accounting for a bunch of great big concrete walls having been retrofitted into place to seal the section off. Not to mention the idea that any city government would approve a street plan designed by a crazy person is kind of silly.

  11. Henson says:

    “Batman! I sense the sleepy nightmare man nearby! His juju reeks of desperation. You must show him your dancing death searchlight, sacred warrior!”

  12. Damn it, Chris, now I want an Arkham game with Batman set in Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.

  13. Adam Phant says:

    It’s been awhile since there’s been a stinger.

  14. Ledel says:

    Today’s bodycount totals.

    K.O.ed: 133

    Maimed: 17

    Killed: 9

    The two kills and four maims are all from the use of explosive gel near the end of the episode.

    • Mintskittle says:

      I have to wonder whether the skeletons during the Scarecrow segment might have also been more mooks that Josh blew up. Since the start of the sequence starts with Batman entering a hallway, and ends up in the bell tower, Batman had to traverse the asylum in his delerium, and may or may not have crossed more Joker goons on the way there.

      EDIT: Also on the subject of Batman and his totally not killing ways, NerfNOW!! did this Arkhan Knight comic the other day:

      http://www.nerfnow.com/comic/1583

      • crossbrainedfool says:

        Given what happens in the third Scarecrow trip, it’s likely.

      • hborrgg says:

        I loved the way Chris described it in the previous episode.

        “You hit people with the batmobile and they quote/unquote “Die” or whatever you want to call it.”

        • Ledel says:

          I’ve watched a little bit of gameplay from that. Is it raining during the entire game? I’m only asking because I’m sure having the mooks soaked has no effect on them being tased after their bones are broken from being hit with a tank-mobile.

          • Shamus says:

            I was playing Arkham Knight saying, “Man, is it STILL RAINING?”

            My daughter Ester says, “Are you kidding? This is GOTHAM. I’ll bet it even rains INDOORS.”

            Yes, it is always raining ,except in Arkham city, when it is always snowing.

            • Darren says:

              To be entirely fair, every Arkham game takes place over the course of a single night, even though that would be nearly-to-actually impossible even if you didn’t spend hours completing Riddler challenges.

              • Henson says:

                It’s always night in Gotham.

              • Thomas says:

                It makes sense for Arkham Asylum to take place over one night, it’s the part of the major plot of the game.

                It’s ridiculous and stupid in the following games. In Arkham City we see the various gangs plot to take over territory, take it, the other side plot to take it back, they successfully take it and then a third side plot to establish that area as their territory – and succeed-

                All in one night! There was some poor mook who got pitchforked because he went to the toilet and their territory changed whilst he was flushing. And his friend survived because he washed his hands and the territory changed back in that time.

                EDIT: Technically it makes sense for Origins to take place over one night? But only in the way “It’s christmas so all the bad guys are having a party on the street and all the civilains are indoors ignorant of outside existing” makes sense

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                The big bad hired the Weather Wizard to create the right ambiance.

            • James says:

              Well Rain and Night time are a common noir trope, as is all that chiaroscuro lighting that is everywhere. and Batman is really just a Noir with a costumed nutjobs.

      • Ledel says:

        I honestly think that once the walls start breaking away, Batman get into a near-comatose state with the Scarecrow gas. Just because: 1) there aren’t any new bodies around when you wake up from that, and 2) with all the running and jumping around Batman does once the walls fly off, he wakes up back where he was when the walls all flew off.

        As it is, I think it’s just Scarecrow upping the dosage of gas he is pumping in that ups the challenge of his sections.

        • MrGuy says:

          Fun continuity possibility – the “fake” bomb Joker set off in the library actually contained (in addition to the boxing glove on a spring) a fair amount of Scarecrow gas, with a timer to release it later. When Batman goes to burn the formula, he’s actually descending into the Scarecrow gas, which set up the next segment.

          Also might sort of explain Dr. Young’s paranoia after hiding the formula (since she was down there too).

        • Taellosse says:

          That’s only true for the first Scarecrow segment, though. He wakes up in this one in a completely different place (the top of the bell tower). And I think the same is true of several of the others as well.

          • Ledel says:

            Fair enough. Though I will still argue “show me the bodies if you want it to count.” So unless Batman is responsible for all the dead guards you find around Arkham (Heh, that would drive up the body count quite a bit), I’m not going to count the Scarecrow sections.

            • Taellosse says:

              Oh, not arguing that part – I agree, there needs to be some tangible evidence to support the idea he’s attacking real people while tripping on fear gas.

      • Phantos says:

        I think it’s funnier if it’s not mooks he’s unintentionally punching out, but like… doctors, nurses and security guards he’s already saved.

        “WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHY???”

        • MrGuy says:

          Also, since we’re beating up skeletons, it’s always made me thing Batman accidentally turned on detective mode and didn’t realize it. OMG Skeletons!!!! Skeletons everywhere! I’ll get you, you bad skeletons!!!

  15. HiEv says:

    I think the guy over at Ctrl+Alt+Del has psychic powers and saw this episode coming, specifically your framerate issues:
    “Slideshow Vigilante”
    http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20150624

    • MichaelGC says:

      Heh! I’ve not encountered those framerate issues with the physics objects myself, as Asylum won’t even let me switch PhysX on. I think it reckons my GPU is, like, an order of magnitude not good enough: I’ve only got a 780, whereas it wants at least a 9800…

  16. Ledel says:

    As far as the Joker being able to make more Titan serum; it’s totally within his character to have already gotten his hands on the formula and have Batman running around trying to stop him from learning the formula. I saw it as the Joker just doing one more thing to push the Batman.

    • MrGuy says:

      I think you can make any plot hole/motivation issue vanish in a Batman story by waving the “Joker loves doing things that don’t seem to make sense externally in order to confuse Batman” stick.

      It’s not implausible but it’s rarely satisfying, especially in cases where Joker doesn’t later monologue (or at least lampshade) about how he’s fooled you with his slight of hand.

      For example, Joker figured out you’d try to track Frank Bowles, so he tied him to the restraints, dragged him through the asylum, killed him, and then left his dead body with the note reading “Dead End” on it to taunt you. THAT’S how Joker plays “fooled you!”

  17. Wow. The “Ghost Voice” of the guy who murdered Batman’s parents (pick your own continuity for who it was) made me wonder if Campster’s Demon-Voice from a few diecasts ago had made a return.

  18. Phrozenflame500 says:

    My feeling when I find out that Shamus hates the glorious state of Canadistan. The sultan will not be pleased…

    On a related note, it’s now canon that every every Spoiler Warning episode is immediately proceeded and immediately followed by racist tirades against [insert country here].

    • Nidokoenig says:

      And rolling a handful of d20s against a random country table is how they decide which country gets it this week, and how the blog gets its name.

  19. Thomas says:

    Incidentally I’m totally claiming Josh’s “Just climb up Batman” as evidence that the camera angle separate you from the character in those segments.

  20. newdarkcloud says:

    I missed my chance to talk about it during the last Scarecrow mission, but I never though that they were that bad before.

    Maybe it’s because I grew up with PS1/PS2-era platformers, but these levels didn’t give me a lot of trouble.

  21. MichaelGC says:

    There actually is a ‘climb up immediately after grappling’ tutorial. I don’t know if they were getting a bit thematically carried-away, but for some reason it comes & goes like Batman in Predator mode:

    Arkham Asylum EP2: Officer Frank BALLS, 14:40 – 14:45
    https://youtu.be/fZX7XrAqNAo?t=14m40s

    Doesn’t exactly out-stay its welcome, does it? Perhaps it was an experimental attempt at subliminal tutorialisation, or something…

  22. Isaac says:

    Forgot to mention this last vid but Josh when the game slows down while you’re in the middle of punching a dude that’s the game giving you an opportunity to counter

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