LEGO Indiana Jones DS Review
Everyone knows Indiana Jones is the most famous archaeologist in the world. Try this: name just one other archaeologist. Louis Leakey you say? Ok—name one other archaeologist whose last name doesn't make everyone snicker. See? You can't.
When I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid, I decided I should spend my life dodging poisoned arrows and stealing priceless artifacts, and now, thanks to Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures on DS, I can.
TT Games and LucasArts have done three LEGO Star Wars titles and not surprisingly, the two companies' latest LEGO-ification includes all three movies of the Indiana Jones trilogy: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade.
The game is extremely faithful to the three films which is both good and bad. On one hand, the stories are timeless and action packed, appealing to audiences of all ages. On the other, audiences too familiar with the films may be hoping for some sort of creative addition to them and if so, they're in for a disappointment.
Fans of the film's soundtrack may be disappointed as well even though the game does contain John Williams' epic score. Every time I hear the spirited Raiders theme, it gives me chills. Admittedly, they're tiny chills since they're coming through the DS speakers; the music sounds like it's being played by an orchestra of ants.
Anyway, the scaled down graphics fare better than the music on the DS. Consistent with the Star Wars LEGO games, TOA is filled with chunky little versions of Indy, his leading ladies, his (shudder) sidekicks and his enemies. The character likenesses are so good actually, they'll make you wish you could render everyone you know as a Lego figure. The only downside to the graphics are the cinematics. It's fun to see scenes from the movies done in LEGO-Vision, but the pixelation is obvious and distracting.
It doesn't matter much, though, since most of your time is spent adventuring, The game is stupid simple but offers a bit of variety through character swapping. Each character has its own unique weapon and fighting style and success depends on having the right characters in your party. Indy might whip-swing across a gap and lower a bridge so Marion can become a monkey and snag a golden idol (yup—she turns into a monkey). Or that annoying little bugger Short-Round might crawl through a tunnel. Or Gimli—I mean John Rhys-Davies' character Sallah—might dig up the pieces of a platform that leads you to a hidden treasure map.
The point is, it's fun to use all the characters and doing so couldn't be easier. Run using the directional pad and break objects, collect studs, and fight enemies with a single button press. In addition to familiar pad and button controls, the game also makes creative use of the DS's other features. Blowing into the DS's microphone inflates rafts, sends Indy flying from fans or puts out torches. A swipe on the touch pad unearths treasure, turns cranks, and activates minigames. And if weren't idiot-proof enough, just look for the tutorial messages displayed every time a new action is introduced.
Once you've played all three episodes in Story Mode, what's next? Replayability is built into TOA; you might even say it's required. Finishing Story Mode only completes about 40% of the game. To get 100% --and win the Obsessive Compulsive award—you have to play through all three episodes again in Freeplay mode.
Why? Because during Story Mode, you unlock characters needed to access off-limits areas. The good news is, playing through once more provides enough new content to make it worth your while and unlocks extras.
Unfortunately, TOA's game extras are not that "extra". The mini-games are a predictable set of collection, survival and memory games except for a Temple of Doom take on the Cooking Mama mechanic where you race to prepare roast beetle and frozen monkey brains. There's also a local wi-fi multiplayer element with cooperative action for those with two DS systems and two copies of the game, but it's the same episodes.
The Good: a cool hero, a kid-friendly storyline and gameplay that's easier to learn than tying your shoes.
The Bad: A cautious adherence to the movies when more creativity was needed; making a kid-centric game about a hero anyone born after 1989 may not know about; the possible limited appeal to older gamers who are familiar with Indiana Jones due to the game's simple, repetitive mechanics.
Overall, Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy is cute and good for one or two laughs but is likely to bore older gamers. It's a perfect title, though, for gamers 10 and under.