Unless you’ve spent the last 25 years living under a rock, it’s a safe bet that you grew up as a fan of Indiana Jones. It’s hard not to love the films, given their sharp sense of pulp adventure and the famed archaeologist’s signature everyman charm. Now, with the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull just over the horizon, what can a good Dr. Jones fan do to satiate the wait?
Unless you’ve spent the last 25 years living under a rock, it’s a safe bet that you grew up as a fan of Indiana Jones.
It’s hard not to love the films, given their sharp sense of pulp adventure and the famed archaeologist’s signature everyman charm. Now, with the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull just over the horizon, what can a good Dr. Jones fan do to satiate the wait? Play some of Indy’s lesser-known video game adventures. Here’s a rundown of some of Indy’s best (and worst) games.
Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s TombReleased: 2003 for PS2 and XboxIndy is tasked with finding the “Heart of the Dragon,” an ancient Chinese artifact that offers typically unprecedented power to whosoever gathers all the pieces. Naturally, both the Nazis and the Chinese are after the heart. The game has a wide variety of European and Asian locales, lots of exploration and a healthy focus on brawling (with shovels even!). This one’s pretty solid. Muddy graphics and some buggy combat kept it from true greatness, but the fun factor is still high, and the Harrison Ford voice-double is almost perfect.Indy-o-meter: 7 out of 10
Indiana Jones and the Infernal MachineReleased: 2000 for N64The Infernal Machine actually takes place after the events of The Last Crusade in 1947. Indy learns of an ancient Babylonian machine, which the Soviets are trying to reassemble in order to harbor the power of the Babylonian god Marduk. Take the N64’s trademark graphics, add a horribly written script, horrific voice-acting (Indy sounds nothing like Harrison Ford) clunky controls and buggy-level design, and you get the point. Simply put, this game is so laughably bad it’s actually kind of awesome.Indy-o-meter: 4 out of 10
Indiana Jones’ Greatest AdventuresReleased: 1994 for Super NintendoA composite of the three films’ plotlines, Greatest Adventures is a pretty typical side-scroller, reminiscent of the Super Nintendo Super Star Wars games. Using conventions typical of licensed video games (liberties with the story, out-of-place enemies or scenarios), this one is still pretty decent, for what it is. The 16-bit graphics hold up pretty well to this day, and the game is fun, if a bit annoying at times.Indy-o-meter: 6.5 out of 10
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action GameReleased: 1989 for NES, GenesisLoosely following the plot of the film, the various versions of the game are roughly the same, but vary wildly in difficulty. The Genesis version might as well have been made out of porcelain, because everything causes a massive amount of damage. Throw in an almost superhuman difficultly level, a lot of nearly unavoidable cheap-design flaws, some mild racism and what appear to be heavily mulleted George Lucas look-alikes–you get the idea. This game stinks. The regular Nintendo version tones the game down a bit, but you still have to find your whip from level to level. Lame.Indy-o-meter: 2 out of 10 Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomReleased: 1988 for NESThis one should have been called Indiana Jones and the Great Child Rescue, since game play is focused almost entirely on capturing slave children from the mines seen in the film. After dumping you directly into the mines (no introductions to speak of), Indy, who looks more like The Man in the Yellow Hat of Curious George fame, has to find his way through a repeating set of rooms, capturing kids who give him jewels, keys and other seemingly useless items. With its focus on exploration and the whole “using items to find the exit” approach, the game plays more like the classic puzzle adventure game Lolo than anything else.Indy-o-meter: 5.5 out of 10
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost ArkReleased: 1982 for Atari 2600Oh, god. I have no idea what’s going on here. I can pick up and drop things, but that’s about it. If I move down the screen, I fall off an unavoidable cliff. A pear-shaped thing that I can only assume is a native or some other kind of enemy is trying to hump me to death. The graphics are so bad I can’t even comprehend what I’m looking at. Later, I learned that the game required two controllers to play. WTF?Indy-o-meter: N/A
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Complete AdventuresReleased: May 2008 for current systemsLike LEGO Star Wars before it, it’s Indy, only done up in Lego blocks, and with a good bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. The game is aimed at younger players, with a focus on two-player action (again, like its Lego space-opera cousin). Always wanted to run away from a blocky LEGO boulder in an effort to escape with the Golden Idol from Raiders? Now you can! Sweet!Indy-o-meter: (If the Star Wars game is any indication, 8 out of 10.)
Indiana JonesExpected release: Summer 2008 for PS3 and Xbox 360Virtually nothing is known about this one, except that it’s expected to take Indy back to his glory days (the ’30s) and that it features a crazy new engine with an independently run physics. What does that mean? Instead of having to program pre-made animations for the game’s characters and environments, the game will make them itself, meaning (in theory) that a punch will never land the same way twice, and characters will move and react differently to things the way they happen. Other details are under wraps, but it has the potential to be the best Indy game yet.Indy-o-meter: Not released yet