For all the things that Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures gets right, it gets something fundamentally wrong. It looks like Indy, albeit with the help of a Han Solo head-swap from Super Star Wars. It even sounds like Indy, from the satisfying crack of the whip to Han Solo’s high-bit-rate voice samples, to loops of John Williams’ classic theme. But it doesn’t feel like Indy.
Booby-rigged-tomb-raiding is the name of the game (or at least it was until Ms. Croft brought all new meaning to that phrase) – stealing treasure for The Museum [read: The White Man] and whipping natives and animals full of ill will (more on that later). This videogame has all that. Grappling and swinging across ravines with your whip? No worries, you can tick that box as well. What about running away from giant boulders? Has it in spades (more on that later, too).
“Well, that’s all there is to Indiana Jones!”, you may say.
You’ve never been more wrong! There’s one crucial ingredient to the Indiana Jones formula that is missing from this videogame, and I’m sure even George Lucas in his post-quality-filmmaking phase knows what it is. In fact, given his repeated failure to emulate the success of Star Wars, Empire and Raiders in recent years, he especially would know. The secret ingredient to Indiana Jones, my friends, is exactly this:
Know this: for all of the unfortunate situations Indy finds himself in – situations that, need I remind you, he himself went looking for – he is incredibly, nay incredulously, fortunate. He goes out looking for trouble, and instead he finds luck. The man survived an atomic blast by hiding in the refrigerator – need I say more?
See, Han Solo’s head isn’t the only thing Indy borrows from Super Star Wars. It also borrows the series’ notoriously excruciating difficulty. There is no luck to be had in his Greatest Adventures, dumb or otherwise. Indy’s future tomb-raiding career (or indeed, his very life) rests solely on your near-Ikaruga-level-ability to memorise booby trap sequences with less than a third of the screen’s x-axis available to you to respond to said sequences. Which brings me back to the giant boulders. You’ll be seeing a lot of them. As in the same single boulder, over and over again. In fact, this one boulder will be all you see and no further. Hit a trap and it’ll knock you back into the boulder. Hit the boulder and you die instantly. Rinse and repeat until you run out of lives, then use a continue, and complete the first level all over again to reach the boulder and die some more. Yes, this is just the second level.
Okay, so I exaggerate a little on the difficulty. I *did* get past the boulder eventually. I switched the difficulty to ‘easy’ – which, as far as I can tell, merely increases the number of lives at your disposal – jumped like crazy, and finally, a few continues later, made it out of the Peruvian temple, MacGuffin in hand.
Still, it requires a masochistic spirit and an iron will to push on through, and you will come upon similarly frustrating situations on a regular basis (like, every second level). Case in point: Marion’s tavern, which, true to the film, is burning to the ground. Unlike the film, however, Indy must climb to the rafters, instead of, say, just getting out of the damn building, in what must be the tallest tavern in the known world. Meanwhile a wall of fire climbs beneath you, ready to welcome you into its fiery embrace should you run into a rat and fall through the floorboards.
None of this feels as effortless as Harrison Ford made it look all those years ago, and that’s the problem! Videogame Indy is decidedly unlucky, with no-one to aid him save for a handful of stubborn nerds with walkthroughs.
One thing they *do* get right, however, is the racial stereotyping inherent in the films. It’s an interesting dichotomy having a white protagonist with a whip against anything other than white vampires. A whip denotes mastery over the whip-ee, whereas being whipped denotes slavery. Throw in several non-white antagonists, and immediately there’s a dichotomy of class and race. Throw in a few animals, and you’ve got a whole bag of issues. How did this go unnoticed by PETA, or N’Gai Croal? Now, we all know that Indy hates rats, and Nazis. Well, turns out he hates a whole lot more. If you thought RE5 was bad, wait until you get a load of this Montage of Hate:
Indiana Jones hates you, and this game exists as proof of that hate.