Bruce hadn't wanted to do it. There was absolutely no point to it. It had no real educational value, and what minimal benefits it might have had for Dick's hand-eye coordination and reflexes were nothing the boy couldn't get by engaging in real training. He shouldn't have gotten it. He should have said 'no' and that would have been the end of it.

Well, technically, he did say no…and that wasn't the end of it. Still, Dick's argument that it would look strange if the ward of a billionaire didn't have the latest toys shouldn't have swayed him. He could have gotten the Nintendo and simply not gotten any of the game cartridges. "But won't that look strange too?" Dick had said. "Suppose some business honcho needs to meet with Bruce Wayne and he brings his kid along."

"Fine," Bruce had said. "But you aren't allowed to play it."

"Now you're just being silly." Dick said, eliciting a glare from Bruce. "No, come on. What good is it to have the games if it doesn't look like I know how to play?"

"Do what I do when I play tennis or golf, pretend to be really bad at them."

Dick held his ground. "Bad is one thing, but not knowing how the controls work or how to play all those games?"

Eventually Bruce relented, and so in the hours when Dick wasn't patrolling, training or engaging in the study curriculum Alfred set for him, he was playing video games. Bruce shook his head.

He walked past Dick's room just to check on the boy. While he could have wished Dick to have found a more useful leisure pursuit, he had noticed that his younger partner only played when his schoolwork was done, and never slacked off in his training either. Looking into the large bedroom and seeing Dick seated on the chair a few feet away from the television, game controller in hand, Bruce decided that while the games might be useless, they were at least harmless. 'So long as he sits far enough away to protect his eyesight,' Bruce thought dryly.

He was about to leave when he took a glance at the TV screen. The background was that of a dingy city alleyway, while two men dressed as clowns attacked a blue-colored person. A blue-colored person in a cape. And a cowl. A pointed cowl. There were several yellow dots on the figure's chest. The rendition was too crude to be certain, but Bruce was willing to bet those dots were intended to represent a Bat-logo. "What in the world are you playing?" Bruce asked as the Bat-character proceeded to punch one of the clown figures twice before sending him flying across the screen with an uppercut.

"A fighting game," Dick answered without taking his eyes off the screen or his fingers off the controls. The character on the screen (there was no way Bruce was going to refer to the collection of pixels as 'Batman') leapt straight up into the air and at the top of its leap, suddenly moved horizontally, foot extending to kick the remaining clown figure in the knee which caused the video villain to fly backwards in violation of any laws of physics Bruce was familiar with.

"This is supposed to be me?" Bruce asked dryly. Dick did not reply. At this point, one inhumanly long-legged enemy strode onto the screen. It too had the clown motif going on in the costume, leading Bruce to surmise that it was a man on stilts. The Bat-character leapt into the air and repeated the impossible jump-kick, hitting the enemy on what appeared to be the left stilt. "If I'd kicked it like that, the stilt would have broken," Bruce pointed out.

"It's just a game," Dick said.

"I'm pretty sure that this violates some sort of copyright."

"Batman is a registered trademark?" Dick asked.

"Well okay, no, but they didn't even try to contact me."

"What were they going to do, leave a contract on the Batsignal?"

"It's still a borderline criminal act." The Bat-character punched the air three times while the man on stilts slowly walked towards him. When it got in range, the stilt-walker was met by an uppercut…to the knees. He too was sent flying backwards. "He got up pretty quickly given that he had a pair of stilts strapped to his legs." This observation did not elicit a comment from the Boy Wonder. "Why did I throw three punches when he was still out of range?" Bruce asked.

"The uppercut does three times more damage. It only lets you do the uppercut after three punches."

"That's ridiculous."

"It's just a game."

"You said that."

"It's still just a game."

Dick continued to guide the Bat-character through dingy streets of a city Batman supposed was intended to be Gotham, repelling the attacks of assorted evildoers who flashed in and out of existence before vanishing completely once Dick had hit them enough. "They don't really do that, you know," Bruce said conversationally.

"Just. A. Game." Dick was beginning to show irritation with his mentor's observations.

"Why am I just walking through the streets waiting for thugs to attack? A little stealth would be out of line here?" Bruce said. Dick did not respond. "There. Go into that alley at the top of the screen. It's dimly-lit, you can fire the grapnel and head up to the rooftop."

"It's just background art. There's no alley." Dick demonstrated by moving the Bat-character up there, where it proceeded to not move upward anymore.

"Pretty weak replica of Gotham…" Bruce muttered. As Dick's Bat-character continued to roam the digital Gotham, a large gift box with a big green bow on top of it could be seen on the ground. The Bat-character walked right towards it, eliciting a "Look out!" from Bruce before the game's protagonist punched the box, causing it to explode in a puff of green smoke. "That is not how I've trained you to deal with Joker-packages young man!" Dick rolled his eyes.

When the green smoke cleared, a small pink heart-shaped item appeared in its place. Dick walked the Bat-character over the heart. At the bottom of the screen, there were about two dozen lines next to the letters 'HP'. About three-quarters of them were white, the remaining fourth on the right was grey. When the Bat-character walked over the heart, that fourth turned white. "What does HP stand for?" Bruce asked.

"Hit points. It's how much life you have," Dick explained.

"So each time I get hit…" Bruce began

"…you lose a point." Dick finished.

"Regardless of whether I got kicked in the head by the stilt-guy or whether it was the fat clown jumping on my steel-toed boot."


Bruce snorted. The Bat-character entered what was called 'Gotham Skating Rink' by a sign in the background. When another man on stilts attacked, the character began punching while still moving. "I'm sliding because I'm on the ice?" Bruce asked.


"Even though my boots have high-friction soles that wouldn't slide nearly that much."

"I have the same soles on my boots as you do, Bruce. It's just a game."

"The guy on the stilts seems to be doing pretty well for a man on ice. Wearing stilts." Dick again decided silence was the better option. After beating up two of the stilt-men, a man on a motorcycle with a skull drove across the screen. The Bat-character jumped up and kicked the man off the motorcycle. "I can think of five ways to take him down that are safer than trying to jump-kick him off the bike."

"Just. A. Game."

"And why isn't he having any problems on the ice?"

"JUST! A! GAME!" Dick shouted.

The ice level ended and Dick proceeded to the next stage which was apparently titled 'The Battle in Front of Gotham Plaza'. "Descriptive name," Bruce said dryly. Several enemies attacked. The Bat-character waited in the center of the screen, and when all four closed in, the character made some sort of flourish of his cape, sending all four clowns flying in different directions. "What the hell was that?" Bruce asked.

"Your special attack."

"My special what?"

Dick sighed. "Your special attack."

"It's so special that I don't have a clue what it was I did."

Dick let out a frustrated growl, tossed the controller onto the ground and stalked out of the room. After a moment, Bruce glanced over at the television, sat down in Dick's chair and picked up the controller off of the floor. "Now to beat his high score…"

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The characters are owned by DC Comics. The game used as source material is Batman 3 by Sunsoft for NES, a truly awful game.