Lego Batman is the latest installment in the Lego series of video games developed by Traveler’s Tales. My son and I have found it to be the most entertaining of the Lego titles, even better than Lego Star Wars. Lego Batman is the first original storyline of the series and the first time you can play the game from both sides of the story – heroes and villains. We found it fun to play the game through with plot-holes as the heroes and play it again as the villains watching the story come together. I believe this is the first time my son has ever seen this style of storytelling.
Like all the Lego games, Lego Batman has great cooperative game play and puzzle solving. My son and I have a blast trying to figure out who must do what, which suit must be worn (there are different suits with different, specialized abilities), and in what order things must be done. The puzzles help my son build cognitive thinking skills, but my favorite aspect of the puzzles is the interaction we have together. They force us to think and work together towards a common goal. We have a great time playing these games and I believe we both will cherish the memories.
On the reverse side, Lego Batman continues the series’ tradition of, at times, being extremely frustrating. Depth perception is the biggest issue. It can be difficult to tell if you are in the right position for a jump or to push a box. Repeated failures can be aggravating. As I’ve posted before, the aggravation provides a great opportunity to teach frustration management. After playing these games for two years now I see a marked improvement in my son’s ability to deal with frustration. It is now me that often needs to be reminded of the lesson. If the depth perception is off, and I die repeatedly because of it, I often let out an ‘arrrrrrrgh!’ My son sets me straight and sympathizes with me. ‘I know, it’s frustrating,’ he says. Makes me smile every time.
During the story, there are several places where Robin wears a vacuum suit. He must vacuum 25 Legos and put them in a machine, the machine then creates something that will allow the heroes to advance. This is a great opportunity to teach children about adding to 25. Robin vacuums groups of Legos at a time. The total amount of Legos vacuumed is displayed on his back. When my son plays Robin I would ask him two questions after each group.
- How many Legos does Robin have?
- How many Legos does Robin still need?
I was worried that doing this constantly, disrupting the game play, would upset him. So I did it the first few times, then asked him randomly after that. One day we switched characters – I played Robin and he was Batman. I was pleasantly surprised to find he stopped me after each section and asked ‘OK, now how many Legos do you have?’ After my answer he’d say ‘Right! And how many more do you need?’ After my answer he’d say ‘Right!’ again and we’d move on. To make sure he was paying attention to my answers, I answered one incorrectly. He paused, but then said ‘…riiiight’ and went on. I laughed and said ‘No, that’s not right!’ and told him the correct answer. To which he said ‘Oh yeah!’ and we played on. At the age of 5, I’ll take the slight pause, but overall trust in his Father as a good thing.
While I do believe the game offers excellent learning opportunities through puzzles and mathematics, the power of it is in the excitement received from playing. The trick is to harness that energy to practical uses in the real world. So while playing Lego Batman I kept an eye out for subjects in the game that could be applied to real-world education.
Counting by 5’s – The Legos Robin vacuums often come in groups of five. I not only quizzed my son on counting to twenty five, but I began teaching him how to count by fives. Here are a few sites that can help.
Lesson Plan – Mathwire.com – Skip counting by 5’s.
Flash Game – LearningPlanet.com – The Counting Game.
How Batman and Robin’s Boomerangs work, or don’t work :-).
How Robin’s Vacuum suit works.
How Batman’s Jet Pack works.
How Batman’s hang glider works.
How Batman’s wing suit works (if you decide to think of it as a winged suit instead).
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
AGEd Tested: 5 Years
- Puzzle Solving
- Cooperative gameplay