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The 5 Best And 5 Worst Jokers In Gaming

While Batman is a comic and film icon, his legacy extends to other forms of media. The caped crusader has starred in a number of video games over the years, appearing alongside a rich cast of allies and villains. Longtime antagonist the Joker serves as a key figure in the latter group, with his depictions often making or breaking the entire experience.

As a malleable and ever-changing figure, the Clown Prince of Crime can incorporate unique designs and be played by multiple voice actors while retaining the core traits that make up his character. Whether he appears as the big bad or a simple cameo, it's usually memorable. Of course, not all portrayals can be winners, and the Joker has his own forgettable and lackluster versions. These often feel like missed opportunities or bizarre oddities compared to the superb features he has in other licensed projects.

Here are the 5 best and 5 worst Jokers in gaming.

Worst: The Adventures of Batman & Robin for SNES

You wouldn't expect a "Batman" game with two Joker fights to fall flat. Unfortunately, "The Adventures of Batman & Robin," an adaptation of the animated series of the same name for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, is a bit of a dud.

Keep in mind this is far from the worst video games have to offer. Outlets like SNES Hub had high praise for the cartoon accuracy.  This compliment extended to the Joker's in-game appearance. The sprites, dialogue, and devotion to the source material are spot on, resulting in a faithful portrayal. The game also boasts several notable set pieces. Fighting Gotham's most chaotic miscreant on a moving rollercoaster is thrilling and fits the character well. Not to mention the fact that he utilizes an elaborate jetpack in the final encounter.

Sadly, the other details don't hold up. Joker's attacks are very one-note and predictable. Sure, it all looks nice rendered in 16-bit glory, but when defeating one of Batman's most legendary villains isn't fun then what's the point? Joker is known for having countless tricks up his sleeve, so it's disappointing how his movements don't go beyond jumping from side to side or flying left and right in the same fashion. The bomb attacks add a nice touch, but this pales in comparison to the skillsets of other video game Jokers.

At the end of the day "The Adventures of Batman and Robin" for the SNES is all style and no substance.

Best: Batman: The Video Game for NES

"Batman: The Video Game" for the NES is exemplary in how it handles its movie tie-ins. It mirrors the 1989 film closely with nods to iconic scenes and playable levels that fans would expect. What tips the scales further is the utilization of Jack Nicholson's surprisingly accurate likeness for some moments.

Much of the title is the standard fare of 2D platforming with set pieces and items that are alien to Tim Burton's movie. This all changes during the final act, however. As detailed by CGRundertow, the action culminates in "a showdown with the maniacal Joker in the bell tower of Gotham Cathedral," paralleling the movie closely. The Joker pops out with his absurdly long Smith & Wesson gun, leading to a thrilling if simple fight as Batman bobs and weaves around bullets and thunderbolts. These thunderbolts are an odd choice along with the Joker's large size.

Luckily, "Batman: The Video Game" sticks the landing, emulating the silver screen with the infamous shot of Batman holding up the Joker. The ending veers a bit from there, as Batman flings the Joker off the balcony rather than using a gargoyle to force him to plummet to his death. Sure, there are some strange decisions with this version, but the highs greatly outweigh the lows. 

Worst: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

An underrated classic, "Return of the Joker" is an engaging story in the "Batman Beyond" series. With twists and turns, this variation of the Batman baddie is nothing short of memorable. It's a punch in the gut to learn that this animated movie did not see justice in its N64 and PlayStation counterparts.

Similar to the "Adventures of Batman & Robin," this game includes images and portraits from the animated project. It's a decent inclusion and complements the polygonal, cartoonish style. Joker's henchman are well designed as well and perform moves from the movie while the crazed maniac himself doesn't look too shabby either.

The real criticism of the game and its representation of Joker is gameplay. The final boss is extremely underwhelming compared to the high-octane climax of the source that inspired the game. To dumb things down, the final fight of the game has Terry McGinnis going at it with Joker in a fisticuffs while a drone slides across the floor getting in the player's way. There are gadgets to help you take down Joker, but the whole fight is a slog regardless.

Despite some dialogue excerpts and character designs stemming from the "Return of the Joker" film, this game is sorely lacking its title character. The "Batman Beyond" twist on the Joker is a distinct take so it's odd that he has such an unimpressive late-game role. N64 Today said it best when claiming the game "fails to capture the excitement of the film on which it's based."

Best: Batman: The Telltale Series and Batman: The Enemy Within

The Telltale video games pride themselves on story-focused experiences based off of popular properties. In their take on the "Batman" license, the developers produced a version of Joker that has more depth than many other iterations. Story is the name of the game and Joker has a big part to play. Largely referred to as John Doe in the games, the Arkham inmate helps Bruce in his exploits to defeat other villains like the Riddler and Bane. The relationship between John and Batman is more amicable this time around so those running through the narratives will likely have a greater attachment to the antagonist.

Dialogue options can be selected and decisions are made based off of the player's judgement. These choices have consequences and affect key moments all the way up to the ending. "All the big choices ... are about Batman's relationships with his allies, a move that feels designed to hurt me, personally," wrote Polygon's Susana Polo about "Batman: The Enemy Within." This lays the foundation for some hard-hitting scenes bolstered by strong writing and Anthony Ingruber's voice talent. There really isn't anything like Telltale's John Doe. He can become an obsessive foe to the Batman or a friendly comrade to Bruce. It's a refreshing portrait of the DC legend since you get up close and personal with a Joker that contains a limitless supply of character depth.

Worst: Batman The Caped Crusader

Classic 2D games deserve respect for their role in pioneering gaming innovation. This can't be said for "Batman The Caped Crusader," a lackluster action-adventure that hinders what would otherwise be an interesting encounter with Batman's archenemy.

Picture a classic Joker portrayal with the slick purple suit and a carnival backdrop to set the tone. This is enhanced by unique areas like a hall of mirrors and rollercoaster ride. Unfortunately, you can't interact with any of this as Batman. You simply chase down a fleeing Joker as rats and goons get in your way. Rather than delivering a satisfying action experiences, the title focuses more on puzzles (per Retro Freak Reviews). The Joker doesn't attack or do anything combative. Instead you run him down and get him into a stun-lock until the exchange is over.

"The Caped Crusader" as a whole is simplistic, but the effort that went towards the level creation is wasted on one of the most lukewarm interactions with what is supposed to be a legendary supervillain. This is easily one of the worst Jokers in gaming since it adds nothing to the character or the game itself. It's loyal to the comics, but ultimately the "Caped Crusader" is a meager blip in the Joker's video game career.

Best: Mortal Kombat 11

The "Injustice" series successfully brought DC characters into the fighting game world. Though he was a great addition to both "Injustice" games, NetherRealm Studios went the extra mile with Joker in "Mortal Kombat 11." For starters, his move set is whacky. His repertoire includes giant boxing gloves, a jack-in-the box, and a goofy Batman puppet — all an elaborate homage to his long-running history.

As he performs his moves, the Joker cackles and makes endless quips. This leads to one of the best aspects of the DLC character: the voice acting. IGN commended Richard Epcar's voice work specifically. The icing on the cake is the amount of dialogue and customization options. Joker makes references to the DC universe before fights no matter who he's taking on. DC-inspired costumes for other characters like Baraka and Noob Saibot add to the experience. The alternate costumes and gear aren't just for his opponents as Joker gets his fair share of customizable looks too.

Joker is one of those characters that can easily adapt to any game, but he fits right into "Mortal Kombat." It's a mark up above the "Injustice" series and well beyond the version that appears in "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe."

Worst: Batman

The 1986 game "Batman" features perhaps the weirdest version of the Joker — not a totally surprising development as it is one of the caped crusader's oldest games. An isometric platformer (per The Pixel Empire), Batman moves through puzzle labyrinths collecting portions of the Batcraft to save Robin from Joker and the Riddler. It's a basic premise where you go from point A to point B. What's odd is the lack of emphasis on Batman's rivals. 

Joker has a brief cameo during which he moves in a simple pattern as Batman avoids large black mystery balls. The clown looks off with his gargantuan head and the level itself isn't reminiscent of any known encounter with him in the past, making everything feel like a random fever dream. It isn't so much an awful depiction of the Joker as it is confusing. Nothing is familiar besides the smiling head so it's no surprise that this game rarely comes up in conversations about video games or Batman.

Best: The Lego video game franchise

Don't let the cutesy style fool you, the "Lego" video games contain some of the best Joker moments in any medium. Starring in titles like "Lego Batman," "Lego Dimensions," and "Lego DC Supervillains," Joker is a high point in a series that has remained consistent with its faithful adaptations. An eclectic assembly of bosses and top notch voice work make this one of the best iterations.

"Lego Batman: The Videogame" kicked off DC's foray into the "Lego" world. Joker is a force to be reckoned with even without spoken dialogue. The cutscenes are a bit silly but surprisingly respectful of their source material. If Joker was just an enemy to take out it would still be satisfying, but there's an entire villain side to the story mode. Dual wielding guns as the Joker is incredibly enjoyable within the campaign.

The "Lego" games have only gotten better with Mark Hamill and Christopher Corey Smith providing voiceover. Push Square went so far to say that "it's almost spine-chilling hearing the Joker's infamous cackle courtesy of Mark Hamill." Boss battles also grew in scale with fights ranging from a boat chase to brawling with Joker on top of a giant robot. It's absolutely insane, and it's obvious the developers wanted to do right by Bats' rival. "Lego" Joker is a fun, referential, and outright zany interpretation that can't be seen anywhere else.

Worst: Batman: Dark Tomorrow

"Batman: Dark Tomorrow" is a complete nightmare. Earning a dismal 25 Metascore, reviewers criticized everything from the controls and camera to the gameplay in "Dark Tomorrow." How the developers adapted the Joker added more flames to the fire. Many voice actors have handled the Joker with care. Unfortunately, Allen Enlow's performance comes off as a cheesy fan imitation. The character design further aggravates the issue with bizarre facial animations and an art style that teeters between cartoonish and realistic. 

If that's not enough, the boss battle that ensues is laughable. "The Joker runs away and you just fight regular enemies until Joker kind of just gives up," detailed YouTuber Rerez. At the end of the day, Batman beats up some inmates, runs up a flight of stairs, and, well, that's about it. Nothing about this Joker is redeemable by any stretch of the imagination. He's appalling to look at and listen to and you don't even fight him. It's best to leave "Dark Tomorrow" swept under the rug never to be uncovered again.

Best: The Arkham series

When it comes to video game depictions of the Joker, there's one clear winner: the "Arkham" series. Rocksteady Studios and WB Games Montreal destroyed the competition. Whether he's voiced by Troy Baker or Mark Hamill, this Joker is not just the best in gaming, but one of the best period. All four of the "Arkham" entries feature the crazed clown in one way or another.

Rocksteady made sure to keep Joker's traditional framework intact while adding new spins to the mix. For example, the final boss fight in "Arkham Asylum" is unlike any previous iteration of Joker as he transforms into a monstrous beast that Batman must defeat. Joker's decrepit and sick appearance in "Arkham City" is spine-tingling. Hamill's voice suits these depictions perfectly, mixing his classic animated series performance with the darker nature of the "Arkham" games. In its review, GameSpot referred to Hamill's work as "something special."

While "Arkham Origins" had a different production with WB Montreal and Baker stepping in for Rocksteady and Hamill, it still knocked it out of the park. The Joker of the "Arkham" franchise remains the character's definitive video game portrayal.