Batman: Arkham Origins is only one of the two Batman games Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment is putting out into the wild this year. There’s also Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate for PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS, a side story to that will, according to WB, continue the tale told in the console game coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC. Blackgate is in some ways more exciting than its console big brother; it’s made by some of the key creators behind Metroid Prime.
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is the first original title from Armature Studios. If the name seems unfamiliar, that’s not surprising. The Austin, Texas studio was primed to be one of the hottest new developers on the block when it opened back in 2008 because it was headed by Mark Pacini, Jack Matthews, and Todd Keller. Those three men were respectively the director, technology engineer, and art director behind Retro Studios’ Metroid Prime games developed for Nintendo between 2002 and 2007. Metroid Prime is one of the highest rated exploration-based games ever made, so the thought of those creators tackling the Batman: Arkham series is downright mouth-watering.
But it’s been five years since the studio opened, and it hasn’t released a single original game. In fact, it’s only commercially released product is the PS Vita version of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, released in 2012.
When the studio first formed, it was developing a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 title for Electronic Arts. “EA approached us with this really interesting business model of creating a small studio that is only comprised of industry veterans,” Pacini told Kotaku in 2008, “The goal is to create new IP with a very, very small team and to produce a game without having to grow that team.” According to industry rumorsmith Superannuation, however, that early project was killed within months of the studio opening. After that it was reportedly working on a military FPS for Nintendo Wii in 2009 and, according to Polygon, a Mega Man X reboot for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on behalf of Capcom in 2011.