“Stay out of the light,” he said.
This was my father to me, a boy of 6, watching the original Indiana Jones on the big screen. Our hero, Indy, was making his way slowly through a black temple in a dark jungle, only to find a shaft of light, strangely penetrating in this mysterious place. Indy reaches his whip forward grimly and releases the trap harmlessly as spikes carrying a corpse thrust forward to my eager and horrified eyes.
To me, that was on-screen magic. The international intrigue, the romance, the action and Lovecraftian horror spelled both fun and adventure, and I never forgot it. It’s the kind of story that gets better every time you tell it, and every time you remember it, no matter how old you are. So imagine my surprise and joy when they introduced Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy for the PlayStation 2.
As a child I had a passion for Legos and was delighted with the Lego Star Wars game, so I immediately picked up this game as well. It was great. Though not quite as good as the Lego Star Wars, it has a charm all of its own that really made it a real pleasure to play (hey, when the hell did James Lipton start writing this? It was bad-ass! ‘Nuff said).
The game itself is essentially put together for children between ages 7 and 10. Younger children will have some trouble with the puzzles, and older children may become bored quickly with the ease of the game, because it is “technically” easy. After all, anyone can eventually get to the ending of the game, with some challenge, but if you want to unlock all the secrets and “cookies,” it will take a lot of strategy. Thus, a 10-year-old child can have fun “winning” while an adult with too much time on his hands can constantly replay a tough level trying to get that last puzzle solved.
The game itself is composed of three primary levels; each following scene-by-scene actions from the first three movies (Raiders, Temple of Doom, Last Crusade). Our hero starts at his beloved university and is free to wander the grounds to purchase packages to improve his skills, discover secrets in his office and observe treasures he eventually collects from around the globe. When you’re ready to really play, you hop a plane to an exotic adventure and fly off to some mysterious place filled with intrigue and suspense.
Those adventures are literally step-by-step from the movies, and if you’re an Indy fan, like me, it was a blast to watch classic moments in Indy films rendered into a very well-done video game with lots of cinema scenes filled with jokes and old favorites (watching Lego faces melt after the Ark is opened in Raiders and Lego “ghosts” are flying around really cracked me up).
Every stage has several primary goals. The first is obviously to complete the mission, a relatively easy task as you have unlimited lives. But every time you die you lose a precious amount of “coins,” something you collect to take back to the university to buy new characters and treasure, and if you collect enough coins you can buy more special abilities. Each mission also has 10 separate pieces of an artifact that you can collect to display at the university, and one “package,” which (if discovered) you can mail to the university and open later to discover new powers.
Clearly you cannot get each treasure and package the first time around. Only during the “free play” which is unlocked after beating a level will you have that chance — and only if you enlist the aid of the right characters at the university to help you on your missions or your digs. Of course, you cannot get “the right character” until you unlock all of them and “buy them” from the shop at the museum. With them in hand you will be able to eventually unlock all the secrets in the game and open new levels in the museum which give you the chance to play as “young Indiana” from the beginning of The Last Crusade.
This game was much harder than Lego Star Wars, for me. The puzzles were more complex, and the precession needed to succeed was much more involved. In fact, there were times it was downright frustrating because of the challenge. Sure a 10-year-old can beat the level, but let’s see a 10-year-old get ALL the puzzle pieces. Hell, Harrison Ford himself would be sweating it out. Also, jumping to that hard to reach spot or dying and losing lots of coins, aiming your pistol or your whip ... you had to do things just right. You didn’t have to worry about that precision in Lego Star Wars.
A bonus to this game is that most of the tricks to beat the bosses and certain spots in each level could easily be deciphered if you sat down and watched the movies. Then you’re like “oh, yeah, to kill that Thuggee guard I have to crush him under the big rolling block on the end of the conveyer belt. Of course!” Naturally, that made things fun, because the game really tries to run each level like a scene directly from the movie, so you really try to play the game like the movie if you want to win.
The only real drawback of this game compared to Lego Star Wars is that you only have a limited amount of characters to work with. Star Wars had aliens out the wazoo, not to mention Jedi with force powers, droids, bounty hunters and space ships to boot. New characters to choose from this include (for example) Indiana in tuxedo, Indy in fedora, desert khaki’s, Nazi uniform, leisure suit ... I mean, really, leisure suit? Come on!
But the bottom line is that if you liked the movies, this game was a lot of fun. Once you beat it the whole way through, there’s not much to it in terms of continued playability, except rewatching the cinema shots, but it’s a great ride for a rainy-day weekend.