The Video Game Critic's
Updated 3 August 2008
Indiana Jones Retrospective
As a huge fan who's played many games based on the Indiana Jones trilogy, I decided it would be a good idea to assemble a nice retrospective coinciding with the release of the new film. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after I had put most of this page together that realized that most of these games really stink! Oh well, what the hell. Enjoy the reviews!
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Atari,1982)
System: Atari 2600
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (LucasArts,1988)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Taito version) (Taito,1990)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Ubisoft version) (Ubisoft,1993)
When I showed this to my friend Chris, his incredulous reaction was, "Wait a second - is this a GameBoy game?!" Yes, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is an atrocity of outrageous proportions. Not only are the graphics horribly grainy, but the first stage is rendered in about two colors! Okay, maybe three - if you count black! This is definitely the most hideous game I've seen on the NES. Indy looks even goofier than he did in Temple of Doom, if that's at all possible. The film provides for plenty of interesting stage ideas, but this shoddy game even makes jumping the cars on a circus train seem dull! The first stage, entitled "Exploring the caves", is about as unimaginative as you can get, with all the obligatory cheap hits including falling stalactites. It's hard to grab onto ropes, and fights with bad guys amount to trading punches until somebody falls over. The controls are so stiff that I might as well be controlling C3PO. Last Crusade is one truly pathetic piece of trash, and for a 1993 game (by LucasArts no less), it has absolutely no excuse.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (US Gold,1992)
So many scenes from the third Indiana Jones film beg for an arcade game, including the circus train, catacombs, the boat chase, and especially the final scene with the three Grail challenges. But Last Crusade fails on every level. The controls are uncommonly poor. Jumping only works half of the time, and trying to leap at the edge of a platform sends you plunging into the abyss. Swinging on your whip is about as easy as picking up a watermelon seed! The characters are poorly rendered with cheesy black outlines, and the villains of the first stage look more like a bunch of Jerry Garcia impersonators! The catacombs are loaded with flaming mice the size of cats, and the final level isn't even consistent with the movie, as ducking under the swinging blades results is fatal! It doesn't help that you instantly die from touching harmless objects like a bush, pile of bones, or even a puddle of water! And when he dies, our hero unleashes a painful wale that's positively demonic! Even the Indiana Jones theme sounds cheesy. As the final insult, the picture on the cartridge shows Indy being chased by a plane, a tank, and a German convoy, none of which appear anywhere in the game!
Young Indiana Jones (Sega,1994)
Young Indiana Jones is a good-looking game that would be fun if it weren't impossible to play. The controls are just deplorable, which is surprising considering this was released in 1994. The game takes you to all the exotic Indiana Jones locales including Egypt, India, Tibet, Germany, and England. You can even select the order in which you play the stages, which is always a nice feature. The graphics aren't bad either. Young Indiana looks almost digitized in appearance, and when he uses his whip to climb, the animation is quite impressive. Colorful stage backdrops include the Pyramids of Egypt, snow-coved Hymalayan mountains, and London Bridge on a stormy night. Sadly, the gameplay is frustrating and repetitive. Although your whip moves with fluid motion in any direction, it inflicts minimal damage on sword-throwing thugs and other converging enemies. Since you can't squat down while using it, you're pretty much a sitting duck. You'll face the exact same goons over and over again, and shooting them with a gun provides your only relief. But the worst aspect of the game are the irritating small creatures like birds, snakes, scorpions, monkeys, and even fish that hound you from all sides. Not only are they impossible to avoid, but targeting them is an exercise in futility! Egypt is a nightmare, because after stumbling through all sorts of tedious hazards, a big windstorm can come along and sweep you all the way back to the beginning! It makes you feel very helpless in a game that never really gives you a fighting chance to begin with.
Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (LucasArts,1994)
System: Super Nintendo
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (THQ,2001)
System: Game Boy Color
Indiana Jones was always great on the big screen, but how would he look on the smallest screen of all? The answer: like a little spider! Wow, these characters are small. Close examination reveals some interesting animation, but still. Infernal Machine's gameplay features Tomb Raider-esque shooting and platform jumping, but the 2D environments are poorly rendered. Multiple shades are used to convey depth, but it's hard to tell where you can and can't go. It's not unusual to fall unexpectedly or run smack into an invisible wall. The gunplay is unrealistic but effective - just face an enemy's general direction and unload. Sometimes you'll engage in comical shootouts with a Nazi standing right in front of you. The platform action is weak, but not as bad as the underwater mazes you have to swim through as your air supply depletes. On a positive note, the stages are reasonable in size, and the user interface makes it easy to manage your inventory. My favorite part of this game occurred when I blew up a wall with a grenade - much like I did 23 years earlier while playing Raiders of the Lost Ark (Atari 2600) with my sister. But besides conjuring fond memories of other games, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine doesn't have much to offer.
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (LucasArts,2000)
System: Nintendo 64
Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb (LucasArts,2003)
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (LucasArts,2008)