iloveplywood I don’t think we will see a game like Batman again from Stern. It is only the game we have today because Lyman was given the time and freedom to execute his vision for the game and to allow him to change direction to the “play the episodes” model that the game evolved into. George stated early on that this was going to be the case and he deserves thanks and credit for ensuring it happened. Forgotten in the development cycle is that Stern was developing the code for the Spike 2 platform in parallel.
Stern clearly underestimated what it would take to transition into the LCD era and to some extent Batman was the guinea pig for Stern to show how IP assets the like of which no manufacturer had before could be used. Without the carte blanche given to Lyman we probably wouldn’t have seen the level of theme integration we have today.
Why did Stern allow a development cycle that is probably 2-3x the norm to happen? Was it because Batman was Stern’s most expensive game ever? Because it was the 30th anniversary game? Because it was a dream theme for George and Lyman? Because Stern saw a significant uptick in Premium orders when the code started to be something special? We may never know.
This may be the only Stern game that feels almost as deep as a JJP game. Even with the general code quality at release improvements we have seen over the last few years I don’t see Stern doing this on a regular basis when “good enough” is indeed good enough for the cast majority of potential buyers.
Look at the most obvious comparison- Batman vs. Munsters. Two themes both based on 60s cult classics and likely to appeal to the same set of buyers. Batman game play set the standard for theme integration; Munsters relies on the theme to mask just how shallow the game is. Where Batman provides a remarkable number of ways to play and enjoy the game (while totally immersing you in the theme), Munsters is currently not much more than a one trick “maximize the jackpots” pony. The majority of the IP assets are relegated to the match sequence after the game is over instead of being used to draw you into the theme during play as Batman does.