Studs are everywhere in Lego Batman 2, spilling out of destroyed scenery, zooming into the Batwing mid-flight and cascading out of completed puzzles. They are small, but are the glue that holds the game together.
Offering endless reward and valuable currency, with the delightful tinkling as they scatter, followed by the chinks as they flow into your coffers; collecting them never gets old. Holy warm glow, Batman!
Lego Batman 2 depends on the studs to disguise its rudimentary puzzles and repetition. This is not bad game, mind - on the contrary, as we'll see - but it's a basic one that's had the makeover of a lifetime. It might sag slightly underneath, but it's a superstar on the outside.
This sequel takes a different tack to the original LEGO Batman game, with a 'darker' Batman who's adorably grumpy with everyone. As with any Lego game, many of the best moments are in the cutscenes; one-liners, physical comedy, background details by the bucketload and a brilliant ongoing double-act between Batman and Superman. The latter sweeps in to cheerily save the day on many occasions, while Robin cheers and Batman tuts about the ruination of a crime scene or how he could've taken care of things.
Blue Block Scout
To make matters worse, Superman has one moment that totally upstages Batman. You're given control of the big boy scout in the overworld and, as you take off, the opening notes of John Williams' inspired Superman theme sound out. It's an unmistakable sound and as dinky Lego Superman soars upwards, the camera tilting to look at the stars, everything seems perfect. It's a fleeting moment, but one that you try to recreate whenever there's a chance. No wonder Batman is so put out.
The star of Lego Batman 2 issn't actually the Dark Knight himself. There are lots of characters to unlock, each with a little specific thing that only they can do.
The Batman universe is so extensive that the treats just keep on coming. For fans, the whole game is a treasure trove of references and tributes, with everything from the Silver Age of comics to Christopher Nolan getting a nod.
This is Lego Batman 2's real appeal. The stages are brilliant-looking playgrounds in which you do the same thing over and over, smashing up the scenery to find the doo-dah to open this, or changing into one of many super-suits to interact with that.
The story is a series of self-contained stages dotted around Lego Gotham, an open world that's a bit empty in places but always has plenty of collectibles and, every so often, villains to be chased down and unlocked.
Outside of that, the key locations look awesome: the lurid neon of Ace Chemicals dominates its low-rent neighbourhood, while Arkham's gothic turrets stand at the end of a long, lonely road.
These sights keep you plugging away at Lego Batman 2, unlocking more and more of its layered secrets. There are concessions in this Wii version, such as the Gotham overworld being split into sections rather than one whole, and certain assets (like cars) are terrible. But such annoyances fade into the background after a short while, and everything else Lego Batman 2 gets right begins to dominate - the smooth animations and their sheer number, the thrill of Danny Elfman's Batman theme as you thwock a thug, the simple joy of blazing down a street in the Batmobile.
The imperfections are worth bearing with. Few games have production values as high as Lego Batman 2 and although there are many better videogames out there, none captures the magic, the size and the thrills of simple heroism quite like Lego Batman 2.