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Indiana Jones and Lego: Together at Last!

  • Mar 16, 2010
Pros: It's Indiana Jones!

Cons: Idea is inspired, but not as drawn out as it could be

The Bottom Line: I've got "The Raiders March" stuck in my head.

Another preserved review. Hey, I like these things and don't want my hard work to disappear again. My current project is a best-movies-of-the-decade list.

I have to say I’m a little bit confused about the subtitle of Lego Indiana Jones. Just what does the package mean by “The Original Adventures?” This was acceptable with Star Wars because of the way the series was broken up into two parts. But Indiana Jones movies were never part of a larger picture. They were always movies which all stood by their very own. Granted, 19 years passed between Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but Kingdom is every bit a part of the Indiana Jones series as any of the other three. But I digress. Lego Indiana Jones is a video game covering the first three movies in the Indiana Jones series, so despite the absence of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, you still get to play through Lego-built interpretations of a good movie (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), an excellent movie (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), and the greatest movie ever made (Raiders of the Lost Ark).

The idea of creating a video game using Lego figures may seem a little bit cutesy. Those like myself who were never big Lego fans in the first place may be a little put off. But as I went about my business in Lego Indiana Jones beating up bad guys, solving puzzles, and finding hidden artifacts, the more trouble I had putting down the controller. Lego Indiana Jones, flawed as it may be, is a strangely addicting game. Those expecting simple retreads of the movies will be shocked at the level designs. Although watching the movies actually does provide a couple of hints at how to solve one or two puzzles, the levels are more of a reinterpretation of the settings than they are simple makeovers. After escaping Marion’s bar in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for example, Indy and Marion have to fight their way through the mountains. The jungle travel scenes from Temple of Doom, which have virtually no relevance in the movie, are also worked into the game as a level. Lego Indiana Jones turns many of the iconic scenes from the movies – including the finale of Raiders and the minecart and bridge scenes in Temple – into unique creations with a whole new feel.

Since Indiana Jones is an archeologist, it makes perfect sense that Lego Indiana Jones would revolve around solving puzzles. The level layout of Lego Indiana Jones is basically a series of rooms. You go into one room and solve the puzzle to get into the next room. These puzzles aren’t the ferocious mindbenders of the Zelda series, but they’re more than enough to hold you back for awhile. Many of them are of the typical “put the item in the proper spot” variety, and many others ask you to find the way to push the switches or get across the gap or other things of that nature. Lego Indiana Jones actually seems to revolve more around the puzzles than the action because many areas only send enemies after you when you first enter them. Other areas only send harmless enemies like bugs or snakes after you, and still others send you nothing at all. When you fight Nazis, you do it in stop/start fashion since the game sends them in small waves. It’s not until Last Crusade when the action quotient begins to notch up a little, with the motorcycle escape and tank chases being made into excellent levels.

Given the liberties taken with the level designs, I was a bit disappointed that the Lego theme of the game wasn’t worked into it more. There are many locations in the game where you have to build things using small piles of Legos. But besides that and many of the character and item designs, the Lego theme really isn’t there at all. I would have liked to see spots where the characters had to climb Lego-designed walls, or life-saving moves which were based in Lego designs. Things like those should have been obvious. But the way it is, Lego Indiana Jones ditches an interesting theme to try to be a common adventure game. It lost points in its final score because of this.

One thing that gives the game some depth beyond the puzzles is that you control more than one character at once. Many of the characters have different abilities. Indy can swing across gaps with his whip, Sallah always carries a shovel, and Willie can break glass with that annoying shriek of hers. You can switch characters with a quick press of the triangle button, and naturally you’ll have to use different characters in order to solve some of the puzzles. While I like the idea, its execution has huge design problems. First, some characters just don’t differ enough to justify being there. Sallah’s ability is to carry a shovel with him at all times. This is fine, but shovels are a very common item in the game. Willie’s scream breaks glass, but she can only use it at a couple of points. A bigger problem is that of the artificial intelligence controlling the characters when you’re not using them. They merely play follow the leader when the computer takes over and if you’re trying to perform some important job in a narrow space, they’ll get in your way. Finally, when you have more than two characters at your command, you have to cycle through them. Playing through Temple of Doom with Indy, Willie, and Shorty is a real trial.

Like the movies, there are many little touches of humor. With the Lego theme of the game prominent, it would have been disappointing for Lego Indiana Jones to not contain any humor. And with the Lego theme keeping this game’s tongue firmly in its cheek, many cutscenes use a more Warner Brothers-like, in-your-face style of humor than the movies. My favorite scene came at the end of the first level in Raiders, when Indy is forced by his rival Belloq to hand over the idol he has stolen. In the game, Indy offers up several other items to Belloq – including the head of Star Wars droid C-3PO – before finally surrendering the idol. Later, when Marion goes missing, Indy goes through the motions, just like in Raiders. The difference is in the game, he goes through them as two bad guys carry the basket Marion is hiding in all around the background.

While the humor present in the cutscenes was nice, I thought the funniest aspect of Lego Indiana Jones was that is doesn’t challenge your perception of Indy’s movie character immunity. You get four hearts in the game, and one is deducted for every hit. And in typical video game fashion, something bad happens whenever you run out of hearts: You explode in a shower of Lego blocks and a certain amount of the treasure you were carrying falls off for you to re-collect, like the rings in Sonic the Hedgehog. While trying to gather up all of your collected treasure before it disappears isn’t something you’ll want to do over and over again, consider yourself lucky because your game won’t actually end. Indy, like the fictional character he is, simply materializes again and keeps fighting. I was killed dozens of times in my walkthrough and not once did I ever have to contend with a Game Over screen. It made the job of playing enough of the game to review it a LOT easier.

To extend Lego Indy’s replay value, the common trick is used: Just throw a whole lot of collectable crap into the levels. You can collect a lot of little coins for a True Adventurer ranking. This may be trickier than it sounds if you’re constantly getting killed, but you only have to collect enough treasure to be a True Adventurer once. So if the amount of treasure you need is 50000 and you collect 50000 before being killed and falling back down to 48000, you’re still a True Adventurer. This idea had a lot of foresight to it because it saves a lot of frustration. There are also treasure chests containing parts of ancient relics. I’m not sure what those were for. Lego Indy’s bells and whistles include hidden characters, postal packages, and a cutscene gallery. After completing a level in story mode, you have the option of playing through it in a free play mode with any character available. You can access all of these things through Barton College. They’re not the most original bells and whistles, but they do their job nicely.

The sprites in Lego Indiana Jones move with more grace and fluidity than anything composed of Legos has a right to. The foreground objects, as expected, are made mainly of Lego blocks. The non-Lego backgrounds are very lush, colorful, and beautifully rendered. I like the added touch of enemies and objects getting destroyed in explosive showers of Legos. Although the characters are made of blocks, they are always twisting and contorting their faces into weird expressions of emotion. There are some characters in Lego Indiana Jones who look more menacing than their movie counterparts and some who look less menacing. Willie – a screamy, bubble-headed, and thoroughly spoiled lounge singer in Temple of Doom to begin with – looks even less harmless here, and Mola Ram’s design is one of the funniest I’ve seen in awhile. Sallah looks so much smaller he is almost unrecognizable. The closest movie-to-game resemblance is borne by Henry Jones Senior. The graphics aren’t quite perfect, however. There was a little bit of slowdown, though not nearly enough for it to become a serious distraction.

The sounds in Lego Indiana Jones are pretty much what you would expect, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. The game gets things off the right way by booming the famous “Raiders March” at the title screen. That’s several points right there, as the famous score is a stirring, inspiring piece which did for movies what the main theme from The Legend of Zelda did for video games: Give the patron a powerful bit of music which said “hold on to your hats, ‘cause we’re going on a great adventure!” The brilliant score of John Williams is displayed in its full glory in Lego Indiana Jones. The characters don’t talk, but they do make silly noises, and this is okay with me because talking Legos would have put too much reality into a world meant to be a little bit silly. A fine line is walked deciding which sounds should be real and which should be in Lego, and it’s treaded carefully. There are no real explosions, for example – the explosions have the sound of Lego blocks falling on the floor. Yet, vehicles sound like real vehicles. The gunshots are very weak-sounding, but they are the only low point of an otherwise flawless score.

The controls are tight for the most part, but they can be trouble in certain spots. Assembling Lego sets tends to be a laborious task because the game will allow you to set a couple of blocks before you accidentally perform whatever function the circle button is usually used for. Therefore, building necessary items takes longer than it really needs to. Jumping can also be a little too tight, and you’ll sometimes fly off a ledge because you held the analog just a little tiny bit in the wrong direction. The worst part is the lack of camera control. The camera barely moves and it certainly doesn’t zoom in at points when you really need it to, nor does it turn when you need to get a better angle on a jump. There are times when depth simply isn’t perceptible, and so you’ll often have to make jumps by guessing the precise angle of your target.

Despite the cutesy idea, there is a pretty solid game buried inside of Lego Indiana Jones. It may tell a story everyone has seen a million times on the silver screen, but the little Lego quirks and the odd level designs make it worth a look. Lego Indiana Jones is at least more solid than any Lego structure anyone will ever build.


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More LEGO Indiana Jones: The Origin... reviews
review by . May 27, 2009
Let me tell you: it's not easy to get my 8 year old son to stop asking me to let him play "M" rated games, but since I snapped up Lego Indiana Jones, there has been some very little need for me to so no (at least as it regards permission to play video games).      I'm not going to completely re-hash what everyone has written; that would be redundant. I'm simply going to say that not only is it fun and engaging, not only is my 8 year old challenged and excited to play (yet capable …
review by . March 01, 2009
posted in The Gaming Hub
Ah, the Lego video game series. Largely forgettable, marginal games until a little something called Lego Star Wars came along. Oh, what a fun thing that was! Colorful, entertaining, challenging and thoroughly great! Then came a couple sequels and now we've got this, Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures! Yes, the little man in the plastic fedora has come to join the fun!    And what fun it is! Though by necessity smaller than Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and lacking …
review by . November 26, 2008
This game is a blast for kids and and adults too. As you play through the game you can unlock over 60 different characters to use which always make it interesting. You can even create your own person by combining assorted body parts in design mode. There are many different types of weapons and tools that you can use as well. You kids will learn teamwork and some puzzle solving skills as well. The game really makes you feel like you are along side Indiana Jones and involved in the adventures yourself. …
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Your Favorite Hero in Lego Form

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures takes the fun and creative construction of LEGO and combines it with the wits, daring and non-stop action from the original cinematic adventures that enthralled audiences everywhere (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). With a unique tongue-in-cheek take on the original adventures, LEGO Indiana Jones follows Dr. Jones escapades through the jungles of South America to the mountaintops of India. Fans can build, battle and brawl their way through their favorite cinematic moments, from Indy’s entanglements with snakes to his dashing boulder run.

Of course, pop culture’s most iconic archaeologist will whip through all the classic moments with the help of a host of supporting characters including Marion Ravenwood and Short Round. Players can also mix and match the body parts of more than 60 playable characters to create new heroes just as they could in the best-selling LEGO Star Wars games.

Lego Indiana Jones

Key Features

  • Everyone’s favorite fedora wearing hero returns to theaters this May in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and families can celebrate the humor and excitement of the original films with LEGO Indiana Jones.
  • Tongue-in-cheek humor presents The Original Adventures in a manner only LEGO can whip up, with comical reinterpretations of classic Indiana Jones scenes and elements.
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ESRB: E10 - (Everyone 10+)
Number of Players: 2
Developer: Lucas Arts Entertainment
Console: PC, Playstation 2
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: 2008
Price: $11 - $30 USD
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