Game and Book Retrospectives

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

PC - Lucasarts, 1989

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, or Indy3, as it is affectionately known, is a fun adventure which shows its age much more than the Fate of Atlantis. The VGA 256-colour version, which you can find on GOG still looks a generation behind its sequel, but the EGA/CGA versions are extremely dated. A proprietary Japanese PC named FM Towns had a number of special CD-ROM versions of Lucasarts games including this (as well as a very cool looking vertical drive in which to insert them). The FM Towns version included the music from the film, which would have been an exciting addition, but unlike Fate of Atlantis there was no talkie version of this game with voice acting. I do prefer some good old MIDI interpretations of music while playing older games, to really get into it. It’s great to hear what composers could do to overcome their technical restrictions of the time and make great game soundtracks, so I’m not missing the orchestral score at all.

Having played both, it definitely feels like a proto Fate of Atlantis

Indy3 clocks in at around 5 hours which by modern standards, and later Lucasarts adventures, is short but sweet. This could go up to 10 hours depending on a couple of the puzzles.

There are a few frustrations that I didn’t have with Fate of Atlantis, the first being the top down sections. While it’s often a nice change of pace to have different perspectives in a point-and-click adventure, these were not at all fun. One of them is a maze similar to that in the Fate of Atlantis, but more frustrating. Fistfights may ensue with any baddies you find, but there is an added annoyance with trial-and-error dialogue options to try and get past some of them as well. In another maze, you can only see a short distance ahead, with many different exits and backtracking. Again just trial and error, and not a very fun or rewarding puzzle. It was a slog, even with a walkthrough.

Some other non-point-and-click sections were fun as well, although I didn’t see all of them, for good reason. There are often multiple ways to achieve your goals that also result in different sections of the game, although not to the extent they improved upon for the 3 different paths in Fate of Atlantis. It was novel for adventure games at the time and also gives a reason for the Indy Quotient or IQ score present in many subsequent Indy games. The innovation with the IQ was a persistent score across multiple games, giving reason for multiple playthroughs and a reason to bother developing multiple routes through the game which otherwise the player may not see.

EGA vs. VGA: Whoever wins... we lose.

There were other, smaller, upgrades from previous titles as well. The previously mentioned conversation system, while often put to annoying use here, was also a first for Lucasarts games. The SCUMM system was upgraded with more options as well. It’s another evolutionary jump in the point-and-click world which looking back is easy to overlook in the shadow of Fate of Atlantis. Perhaps because this was a film tie-in, which have often (and still sometimes are) cheap cash-ins, while its sequel was an exciting new story for fans.

But playing through the movie scenes can be fun too. In the book Rogue Leaders: The Story of Lucasarts George Lucas mentions how he wanted Lucasarts to create separate stories from his movies from the outset. This would be the first movie adaptation that Lucasarts had handled since its inception in 1982, and it was a great success in that respect, inspiring confidence to do more of them. Part of this may have been the fact that George had licensed Star Wars games to other companies until 1993, so Indy was the biggest franchise Lucasarts had. Perhaps we would have seen a Star Wars point-and-click during the golden Lucasarts era if they had held the licence. We can only dream.

Reading through the grail diary for clues does make you feel like Henry Jones Jr.

Regardless, they made an effort to make you feel like you were in the movie. sing Henry Jones Sr.’s Holy Grail Diary (or Grail PDF unless you want to spend some money on eBay) to solve in-game puzzles was a nice touch as well. It really makes you miss buying a game and opening the cardboard box to see what goodies were inside when you got back home.

If you have to play one Indy game, it’s Fate of Atlantis. Despite the glowing reviews of the time, over the years Indy3 has paled amongst its peers and wouldn’t even make the top 5 SCUMM games, let alone adventure games. But still, it’sl a decent time, an option for the patient Indy fan, and an evolutionary step in adventure games of the 90s.

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