Riddle me this, pedant

E Nigma Esquire

Where does he find the time to hide all those wonderful trophies?

I’ve had some time off recently, and so I thought I’d use it constructively. All right, I’ll ‘fess up – I used it to play Batman: Arkham Asylum for the second time. It’d been about three weeks since I had my mouth-watering first look at the game’s sequel, Batman: Arkham City, so I thought I’d go back to the original and see if it was as great as I remember it being. It was and then some, mainly because I decided to take on The Riddler’s challenges instead of blasting straight through to the end.

The first time I played Batman: Arkham Asylum, I played it on the PS3 and shot straight through it as quickly as possible, ignoring all the side-quests and collectibles dotted around the map. I was more interested in how the story was going to pan out than chasing down some hard-to-find Riddler trophies and scanning areas of the Asylum to solve some obscure riddles. This time, however, I decided Mr Edward Nigma Esquire was going down and since I only had a few days to play B:AA, I decided to use a walkthrough to give me a couple of clues.

In the end, I didn’t so much consult the walkthrough for a couple of hints as I did use it for nearly every single riddle and trophy. Yes, I cheated, but hell, if you’ve ever played this game you’ll know how maddeningly vague some of the Riddler’s clues are for his riddles, and how hard it is to find all the Riddler trophies with absolutely no help. The Riddler side-quest is also gargantuan in size and takes a fair bit of backtracking to completely wrap up. It has to be said, that before the Riddler took flight from Arkham, he’d really done a lot of forward preparation in order to humiliate the Dark Knight.

All of which made me ponder over two details. First of all, how rubbish is the security in Arkham Asylum? Does anyone monitor the movements of the inmates at all? Are their cells even locked? If the answer to the last two questions is ‘yes’, then how do you explain the fact that that the Riddler can set up around six hour’s worth of conundrums for Batman while ostensibly being locked in a cell?

The plot set-up for the game involves the Joker tapping up a resource in Arkham before the game starts, then escaping and then allowing himself to be caught by Batman and brought back into custody. As the game started, this struck me as a pretty ballsy move, given the amount of things that could have gone wrong. After finding my umpteenth Riddler trophy, however, I was wondering if anyone had missed the Joker when he sauntered out of Arkham in the first place. I mean, if the Riddler can take delivery of a consignment of trophies while banged up in the Asylum and have enough free-run of the place to hide them all in hard-to-reach places both inside and outside his cell-block and, in some cases, in the infrastructure of the various buildings on the island, then the Joker busting out must’ve been a doddle. I’m surprised the place doesn’t have any revolving doors in it.

(And as a side-note, did anyone else notice the pile of human skulls outside Killer Croc’s cell? At the start of the game, he’s locked up in his lair beneath the Asylum. So who was feeding him people before this happened, and why doesn’t Batman even mention this?)

Second question; is there anyone, anywhere who has managed to find all of the Riddler trophies and solve all of the game’s riddles without any help at all? I’m sure the writers of the walkthroughs on Gamefaqs are probably more adept at searching for hidden stuff than myself, but seriously, didn’t any of them have to phone a friend? If not, then hats off to them. They are the gods to which Achievement Hounds such as myself pray to at night, because really, the Riddler content in the game would make a pedant howl for mercy.

I can’t find fault with the way the riddles themselves are set up. When you wander into an area where one has been hidden, a clue pops up on the screen and then it’s a matter of searching for something which stands out from the scenery. However, finding all of the Riddler trophies with no aid whatsoever is a Herculean task. There’s the odd one here and there that’s just standing in plain view, but the lion’s share of them are insidiously well hidden behind breakable walls or air-vents positioned in areas of the map you just wouldn’t naturally think of searching. There’s one Riddler trophy behind a collapsible wall in an area called The Abandoned Chamber, which requires incredible precision to collect, given that the player can’t rappel up towards it, and the game’s jumping mechanics don’t seem to accommodate the direction in which the player needs to go. Thanks to the fact I was (cheating by) using a walkthrough, I knew  exactly where the trophy was and it still took me a good thirty minutes to collect the ruddy thing.

Oddly enough, at this point The Riddler’s voice crackled over the radio. “How are you doing this?!” he screamed. “You’re cheating! You’re using the internet, aren’t you? That’s the only explanation!”

Touché, Mr Nigma. Touché…

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