The Lego licensing games started with Lego Star Wars: the Videogame. It was new and different, because of that it sold well. That game was followed by Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. It was also successful. It featured improved graphics with changes and improvements from the previous game. Finally exhausting the Star Wars license, was Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. This one enhance the graphics to an even greater degree while combining the first and second game into one large game. Now having finished with the Star Wars license, what could possibly come next? The answer of course was in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga as a playable character, and yes, there was also a trailer in the game. Let’s talk about Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures.
I’m just going to say it right away, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is a great follow-up to the Lego Star Wars games, especially if you’re going to pick from LucasArts library. There may have been other motives as well. After all, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released in the same year, about a month before the release of this game. Perhaps unsurprisingly it does not contain any levels based on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. After all it is called The Original Adventures.
From the moment the game boots up in a plane flies past the screen with the Indiana Jones theme playing, you know you’re in for a treat. There’s just something about the theme to Indiana Jones that screams adventure, don’t you think? And that’s one of the first cool things about the game is that it features music from all three movies. They are of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade. For a bit of extra variety, I understand some of the music is sampled from the Young Indiana Jones television series. Interestingly enough, it must blend well, because I didn’t even notice.
In many ways the game is much like its predecessors, playing the first level and completing it gives you access to the other two movies so that you can play them in any order you wish. Most people, I suspect played in the order the films came out. I know I did. Traveler’s Tales prefers to give you a hub as always, rather than just a simple menu. It is done really well in this game, though. The hub comes in the form of Barnett College from The Last Crusade. The three movies are represented by maps hanging on a wall side-by-side. The beauty of this is you barely have to move your character in order to choose the movie you wish to tackle. The different parts or levels of each movie are represented by points on the map. Each movie is divided into six levels, just like the Lego Star Wars games.
There is much more to do in Barnett College. The library serves as the space where you can buy more characters. There is a mail room where you can unlock extras, like bonuses that you have mailed to yourself during the levels. That’s right, during the levels you find packages that you can pick up. Once you’ve got one of these, you have to find a mailbox to mail them to the college. After you return to the college, you can then go to the mail room and open the packages by spending studs. Another room is the artifact room, which holds all the artifacts you collect throughout the game. Artifacts are actually a much better name for the minikits from the Star Wars Games. They serve the same purpose as before where you must collect ten pieces to complete a artifact. However, I think you can spend the games currency, still represented as studs to buy pieces you couldn’t find in the levels, but I’m not entirely sure. There is also a screening room where you can view all of the cut scenes you have uncovered while playing. There are 78 cut scenes according to this room, but I only unlocked the 74 that cover the movie’s stories. According to a bit of research, these other cut scenes are related to three bonus levels that are difficult to unlock. There is also a room where you can customize your own characters just like in previous games. This is where it gets a bit tedious. While thankfully the three movies, the game’s main section, are located side-by-side and close together, some of the other areas can be quite a trudge to get to, especially the character customization section.
Finally Indiana’s office serves as a puzzle room. The goal seems to be to obtain a key for unlocking the bonus levels by collecting five treasure chests hidden in the room. You must use the different abilities of the game’s characters in order to collect the chests. Someone carrying a book can translate a language and open a hidden panel. In this game women can jump higher than men, so using a female character, you can leap up to a chest on a shelf high up and collect it. At the time of writing this, I have not obtained all five chests. I also understand that collecting this key is still not enough to access the bonus levels. The final element being that you must collect all 10 treasures from each level, or close to it to actually gain access to the bonus levels. You may also remember that I said, that you can buy missing pieces to the trophies you collect. There doesn’t seem to be any point to it though, as doing so does not help get you access to the bonus levels or appear to complete the artifact as far as I can tell. For the curious the bonus levels are, Young Indiana Jones, an ancient city, and a warehouse. It’s a bit frustrating that the game seems to be designed for completists, someone willing to hunt out every trophy.
One of the biggest changes in this game is probably the ability to interact with objects. In Lego Star Wars you were only able to pull switches and that was about the extent of what you could interact with, not counting everything you could smash and the Lego’s you put together. In this game you can pick up Spears, swords, disguises, and guns among a few other things. This is such a cool feature, because it makes the whole game feel more open just to be able to pick up all these things. It makes you feel like you have more options when it comes to a fight. I can choose to grab a sword off the ground and start swinging, or a gun instead, and keep my distance. Be warned that there is a limited time for picking up any object. When something is dropped, it’ll bounce a few times before coming to a rest. It will sit there for a brief moment before it begins to flash, warning you, that if you don’t pick it up now it’s going to disappear.
Disguises seem to have a limited use. You can’t just put them on and expect to walk up to any character. Instead, you can use them at guard posts. Put on the appropriate hat, walk up to a guard post, and wave at the guard. He sees your hat, assumes you’re one of them, and opens the offending gate or door for you.
Most of the characters you travel with each have their own skill or ability, making them important to the movie and chapter you are playing. Satipo, Indiana’s assistant from the beginning of the game carries a shovel. As you travel through the level you will find places that can be dug up. Just switch to satipo, and start digging. Later in the same level, towards the end of the introduction Indiana will have Jock, his pilot with him. Jock carries a wrench and can repair things, such as his own plane. In one final example, Willie from Temple of Doom can break glass with her voice. As you can see the game tries to make these characters important to you, rather than having Indiana do everything and these characters having no real reason to be there, except for they were in the movie with him. The cool thing about the environment being more interactive though, is that there are times Indiana can pick up a wrench or shovel himself rather than having to switch characters, but that’s only if you can find the item lying around.
Everyone knows that Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes, and another cool thing this game borrows from the movies is phobias. If Indiana happens to wander too close to a snake he will begin to shiver and refuse to move.Â At this point you normally have to switch to another character that you can use to destroy the snake. Indiana is not the only one that will suffer from phobias as you play. Willie is afraid of spiders and Indiana’s father is afraid of rats. There may be a few other characters with phobias to, but I can’t recall for sure. It’s a nice little touch that gives a nod to the source material and thankfully is not overused in the game.
For some odd reason Indiana does not carry a gun in this game. His bonus character in Lego Star Wars did carry both a gun and his whip, and you could use both of them. His primary weapon in this game seems to be his fists followed by the whip. That’s not to say those are his only weapons, though. In most cases, if you can pick it up, you can use it, which means that you can hit people with shovels and wrenches, as well as spears and swords. When you beat up opponents, like soldiers they drop their guns to the ground and you can pick those up as well. Gun ammo is limited, but you can still switch to your whip and save the gun for later once you pick it up, if you desire.
The cut scenes and gameplay followed the movies quite well. Sometimes certain things are altered for a more kid friendly humorous approach, but not too terribly and for the most part the cut scenes are enjoyable. In some cases you could argue that they expand on things we did not see in the movies. For example in the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark, we see Indiana and his party making their way through the jungle until they come across a fallen idol of some kind and everyone flees. You then get the chance to explore bit of the jungle yourself, as you finish making your way to the temple. The tarantulas from the movie, have been changed to giant spiders that you must battle. It’s a big difference, but for some reason it’s forgivable. Later in the game, after Indiana and Marion exit her burning bar, we actually get to see where they go and play a little bit as they make their way to the airport. You get the idea.
There is one part of the Last Crusade Section of the game that I found interesting, because it seemed to rely on the idea that most people have seen the movies. And no doubt that’s quite true. When Indiana Jones is trying to find the Grail, I didn’t see any queue that indicated what you should be looking for. Having seen the movies, I knew I was looking for the oldest looking, beat up chalice possible. I didn’t see anything that communicated this to the player though, because the characters only speak in mumbles in grunts. I’d be curious to know if anyone ever got stuck in this part of the game.
There is some vehicle usage in the game as well, but nothing like the Lego Star Wars games. Most of the levels in this game are generally a mix between standard walking and an occasional vehicle segment. In many of these levels, you can drive and also get out of the vehicle at any time. After finding your way through the Temple of Doom, the level transitions into the mine carts seen. I was surprised that it wasn’t a level of its own. You must ride the mine carts out, by triggering switches as you zoomed past them. Once all the switches are triggered, you make it out of the mine.
The levels feel quite long too. They generally span multiple segments of the movie they represent. The first level of Last Crusade is a great example of this. This level covers from the time India arrives at the docks to the end of the boat chase from the movie. If you can recall the movie at all, your trip to the library is now an entire segment of the level. Finding the entrance to the catacombs inside the library, which could’ve easily been a level of its own is a second segment, followed by the exploration of the catacombs as a third segment. And finally as already stated, the boat chase is the last segment of the first level. The segment number and length themselves can vary, as well. Because these levels felt so long, there were times I was wishing for mid-level checkpoints or saves.
It could be tedious if the game wasn’t so enjoyable. However, I did struggle with the length of some of these levels a bit when it came to free play mode. For whatever reason I did not find free play mode as enjoyable with Lego Indiana Jones. I think this is in part by the lengths that you must go through in order to achieve some of the bonuses. Just to get into the bonus levels of Lego Indiana Jones you are expected to collect all of the artifacts without missing any. For me that was just too much to go through just to access three more levels that in the end were not that impressive.
There are three bonus levels, if you managed to access them. The first is Young Indy, the best of the three bonus levels. This level covers the short segment of Indiana Jones as a young man in the beginning of Last Crusade and could have easily fit at the beginning of the Last Crusade part of the game. I have no idea why it was held back as a bonus level, but it’s fun and worth a play, if you can unlock it. There is a small continuity mistake in this level, at least in my opinion. During the first part of the level Indiana comes across a few snakes and is afraid of them. To deal with these snakes you must switch to the other character, who is simply labeled as Boy Scout. Indiana shouldn’t be afraid of snakes at this point though, and should be able to deal with them on his own. Later in the level you do get the actual scene that sparks his fear of snakes. Sure, it’s not important, but I thought it was interesting.
The second bonus level is far less remarkable. It is labeled as Ancient City, and reminds me of the Lego city bonus level in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. Basically the goal here is to smash and build things as quickly as possible to earn a million points in the shortest amount of time.
Finally we have the Warehouse bonus level. This level is unique because it gives you a chance to build a racetrack and race around for whatever reason. You get three types of blocks that you drop on green pads in order to construct your track. Green blocks are corners, obviously for turning. The straightaway parts of the track are built with the blue blocks, and U-turns can be made with red blocks. Like with the Ancient City level, there is also a million points meter and a timer. You don’t have to mess with the racetrack at all if you don’t want to. There is a target on the right side of the warehouse and if you have a character with a bazooka, for example, you can shoot a target and rack up that million points in no time, ending the level.
Two player co-op works just as it did with the Star Wars Lego games. Your friend can jump in at any time, and quit at any time as well without reloading any levels or saves. There does not seem to be a two player arena though, like there was in the previous game.
I played this game back when it was originally released and during the Temple of doom section of the game, I got stuck on what you’re supposed to do on a rope bridge at the end. I was really dreading playing this part again, because everything I tried to do to beat the level just wouldn’t work. I read guides and may have even watched a video or two. As far as I could tell I was doing everything correctly but it wasn’t working out. And that’s where I stopped playing for years. Now playing it again, all these years later, I had no issue and was able to make the bridge collapse, like it’s supposed to.
In the video settings of the game is a vsync setting. If you’re having any difficulties with any jumps, I suggest you turn this on. Things should suddenly become easier. I noticed an issue just a small way into the first level, and who knows, perhaps it was the problem with the rope bridge all those years ago.
Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, is arguably one of the best of Traveler’s Tales Lego games. After three Star Wars games, it feels fresh and creative. Many things are labeled to fit the theme of the movies it’s based on. Some of the later games feel less creative or fresh, and it’s a bit disappointing. The game’s biggest drawback is its bonus levels, and what you have to do to access them. If you’re not a completist, you will never see the bonus levels for sure. Who knows what else. In many ways Lego Indiana Jones does it right though, and is one of the most fun games in the series. Unfortunately there is a sequel that somehow doesn’t live up to the high standards of this game, and we will talk about that in the near future.
Thanks very much for reading. My thanks to the brickraiders.net site, which help me figure out how to access the bonus levels and what the heck those packages and mailboxes were all about. Please feel free to leave comments and discuss.