Monday, March 4, 2019

Let's Play Batman: Return to Arkham City: Episode 9

If this Let's Play series were a season of a television show split into two parts (in the style of The Walking Dead), this episode would serve as the midseason finale (or "midnale," to use a term I coined). I won't say any more for now, except that it ends with a rousing bit of action that also serves as a natural stopping point in the game's narrative. Go ahead, see what I mean by watching the embedded video.

But before we get to the exciting conclusion, we have to wrap up the business from the last episode: rescuing the undercover cops from Penguin in the museum. The predator challenge where we save a big group of them from some armed enemies happens with accompaniment of a driving, horns-based musical theme, known on the official soundtrack as "How Does It Feel, Pig?" However, if you listen closely to the music in this part of the game, it's clear that this track is actually the second layer of a musical theme we've heard earlier, called "Trophy Room." So that's why, after I took out all the henchmen and talked to the cops, I filled this usually music-less space with this same track. Additionally, during the trip from the Armory over to the Iceberg Lounge, I use a track that we've heard before from the extended soundtrack called "Entering Penguin's Turf."

We quickly discover that it's pointless to confront Penguin without first finding a way to disable the ice gun that he stole from Mr. Freeze, so we have to search the museum for everyone's favorite cryogenic scientist - and that's when the music gets interesting. For this section I inserted my favorite piece of music from Arkham Asylum: a dual-layer masterpiece that is not on the official soundtrack, but which can be found in the in-game audio files under such innocuous names as Batman and Combat. If you listen to those two tracks separately, you'll see that one contains just the strings, while the other features just the horns, but when you put them together, they form an extremely complex and evocative theme that perfectly embodies the feel of both the Arkham games and the Batman universe in general. What's more, for its use in this Let's Play, I mix the various layers in and out depending on the action in the game. For example, listen closely to the music during the search for Mr. Freeze (and again as we make our way back to the Freeze Suit in the Armory) and see if you can distinguish the different versions of the track.

But between those two segments, we actually have to find Mr. Freeze and get some information out of him. Since he is locked in a room with more of Penguin's character-specific display cases, I took that as a good opportunity to showcase some more music from Batman: The Animated Series. First and foremost, there's the opening theme from "Heart of Ice," when we first see Mr. Freeze (the zero-suit version, pictured above). But before that, we see the remains of Joker's famous hyenas, which make their first animated appearance in the episode "Joker's Favor." Then there's a case for Harley Quinn, under which I put the opening theme from the episode "Harley and Ivy." And for the Clown Prince of Crime himself, we get a theme that we've heard before, from "The Last Laugh," but it's such a perfect musical representation of the Joker, that I don't feel too bad about reusing it multiple times.

The last piece of personal music in this episode is probably the most outrageous one in the whole Let's Play, but it goes along with what's probably the most outrageous moment of the whole game. While traveling back across the thawing lake, Tiny the shark makes another appearance, this time jumping up to chomp down on our raft! Reacting quickly to this surprise attack, Batman executes a Beat Down maneuver (i.e. spamming the strike button) until it goes away. This is clearly a reference to the extra campy "Shark Repellant Bat Spray" sequence from the 1966 movie Batman, starring Adam West, which is why I punctuate this moment with a jazzy rendition of main theme from the soundtrack of the 1960s TV show.

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