Don't call him Junior

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game logo

THE man with the hat is back, and this time he's brought his niece. Well, not quite. But dontcha just loves games developed with ail formats in mind? Isn't it a great feeling knowing that the game running on your immensely powerful Amiga sits just as happily on the Spectrum?
Believe me, it shows. The multi-million blockbuster film has been rendered into pixel form by US Gold, and I have to say I'm not happy with the job that has been done.

Now you must have seen the film, otherwise you wouldn't be interested in playing the game, buttering the tea shirt and eating the soundtrack album. This does help. Not with making the game any easier or playable, but in convincing you that this is vaguely connected to the real thing, and thus a worthwhile game.
Unfortunately it isn't a worthwhile game. Only a very worthwhile marketing exercise. But there you go, that's the software biz for you.

Indiana Jones is on the last crusade (before infirmity strikes) to find the Holy Grail. He must get to it before the Nazis do. The Grail goes from being the cup of everlasting youth to a power of great destruction if in the wrong hands. It sounds suspiciously like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and indeed it is.
The computer version takes four sequences and makes them into the four levels of the game.

Part one, accompanied by a nice little digitised piccy, casts you as the young Indy, played by River Phoenix of course.
This is sideways scrolling rocky platforms and ropes territory, populated with knife-throwing indians, gun-toting hoodlums and falling stalactites. The idea, as on most of the levels, is to collect certain objects which enable you to progress to the next. Pieces of stone tables, the diary, the cross and the Grail itself all have to be picked up along the way if you are to save the world from the Nazi jackboot.

The first level then, has you traversing these caves, avoiding the indians, watching out for the platforms which crumble underfoot, picking up vital supplies of whips and torches - it gets dark otherwise - and swinging from rope to rope over water.

A couple of points here. Firstly, the knife thrower hurls at random so luck largely determines getting past unscathed. Secondly, where there are two gunmen patrolling, you have to be lucky enough for them to appear some distance apart and not on top of each other, otherwise it is impossible to get past them.
One touch by anyone and you lose a life.

The final groan comes when Indy falls from the ropes over the water section - he doesn't sink beneath the waves, rather he falls in front of them off the screen. Sloppy programming or what?

Still, it is very difficult to get through the first third of level one without serious damage - stupidly hard in fact, when more rope play knife throwers and fatal drops have to be considered.

Then you go outside, have a leap out to the back of a speeding train and avoid rhino horns, mad giraffes and the usual bad guys before you get to the end. And that was the first level.

The other levels are easier, with the simplest being the final one. There's more cavern play with rats to consider in level two, the Assault on Castle Brunwald. The castle is burning and you must climb up the wall to part three. The effect of the fire dropping from the stone ceiling is feeble.

The next level is slightly at odds with the film as it has you racing around the zeppelin, trying to escape by biplane. This bit was cut, so didn't make it into the cinema. There's a nice heaving effect where the screen slowly scrolls up and down to simulate the airship's movement, but really the graphics are very dull here - it's just a maze thrash with the guards in the way.

Only the climax of the game, the Get the Grail sequence, where a heartbeat representing Indy's dad slowly declines, captures any of the spirit of Indiana Jones. There's traps, a fair bit of leaping and a nasty buzzsaw to contend with.

Graphically, Indy and the Last Crusade is only adequate. The playing area is fairly small, the scrolling a bit jerky and only the animation of characters worthy of note.
Speaking of note, the music and sound effects are awful. I wish someone had told the programmers that a good gun effect doesn't mean you don't have to bother with the rest of the game.

Indiana Jones and the Last Rites would have been a better title for this game. There's plenty of it, but you're never going to see it unless you can master the absurdly difficult first level. Sloppy programming adds to the misery. Maybe Indy should have brought his niece after all, it would have made things a little more interesting.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game logo

US GOLD £19.99

Bullwhips and hats are back in vogue as Indiana Jones returns to the small screen in yet another adventure, this time based on his latest big-screen escapade, The Last Crusade.
In the film, Indy (the part-time mild-mannered college lecturer) is just about to take things easy after a hectic adventure trying to get hold of The Cross of Coronado, which belongs in a museum. Then startling news comes to him that his father has gone missing while searching for the legendary Holy Grail. So, Indy must go find his dad, and the Grail too if he has time.

The game starts with Indy's first encounter with The Cross of Coronado, when he was a boy. Playing the part of the young Indy, you must traverse a large cavern and hopefully retrieve the cross before exiting. Essentially, it's a platform and ropes game: you walk along the platforms, climb the ropes (jumping from one to another on occasion) and doing your best to avoid the vicious knife-throwing and gun-toting, bullet-shooting baddies.

Initially, you have only a left hook to keep you out of danger, but you can pick up a bull-whip, which gives you a maximum of five lashes so use it sparingly. There's no time limit as such, but the torch you're using gradually fades so unless you manage to find another one, you'll end up trying to negotiate deadly jumps in near darkness.

The next stage sees you trying to escape with the cross across a circus train (relevant, if you've seen the film!) then for the rest of the game you're the fully-grown-up Indy: at which point you come across them nasty, nasty Nazis. There's a dash around the castle where Indy's dad is being held before more platforms and jumping around inside a Zeppelin. For the final task Indy has to jump his way along a tiled pathway, each tile inscribed with a letter. Jump on the right letters and he can progress, jump on the wrong one and you lose a life.

This is definitely the best Indy Jones game. The gameplay is old hat (groan!) and is terribly frustrating at times, but if you like the platforms and ladders style of game then you'll find it enjoyable. As a tie-in to the film it works very well, but it stands up as a game in its own right too.


The title music is a disappointment, but the sound effects are good: shame there are too few of them. The graphics are good, backgrounds are well drawn and the animation is adequate and adds plenty of atmosphere. Not the world's greatest game, but plenty of fun and doubly enjoyable if you liked the film.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game logo

US Gold
Price: £19.99

But is it? I mean, when you make a movie as amazingly successful as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", you ain't going to end it all there, are you? Sequels must follow, and I am willing to lay money that they will. But back to the subject of the review, Indiana Jones - The Action Game, first of two titles coming from the Lucasfilm stable based around this intrepid explorer's final adventure. You, as Indy, have to run, jump and whipcrack your way through different escapades, all based around scenes in the movie.

First of all, we see Indy as a boy, climbing though some caves, avoiding loads of bad guys and already displaying his prowess with a bullwhip. Then we catch Indy doing the archaeological business around a ruined temple. On the third level Indy, now a grown man, is racing around a German Zeppelin, and finally we see Indy searching for The Holy Grail. Doesn't he know the Monty Python team have it?

The game is played as a side-on, multi-scrolling affair, and scroll very nicely it does. I especially like the way the Zeppelin is constantly bobbing up and down on the third level.

Indy himself is a fine figure of a sprite. Large, and for the most part, well-animated. He looks a bit strange when he jumps or falls, but otherwise he looks great.

The backdrops are very nicely drawn indeed. I really like the way the scenery in level one gets darker as your torch burns out.

And now, the bad news. Very badly indeed. It is not a problem of large playability errors, just a whole bundle of small annoying ones. Like the way it is luck whether you die or not, for example, when you have to climb a rope to get past a knife thrower, it is all down to chance whether he throws the knife or not. Also, Indy takes a long time to respond, which makes combat difficult. On top of all that, it seems a little unsure as to where the edge of certain platforms are, which means that you end up falling through quite a few ledges.

It could have been good. It is just that they did not do it right. I would prefer something like Rick Dangerous. But maybe the adventure game will be good.

64 version should be available soon. Graphically it won't come up to the Amiga standard, but is still looking good nonetheless. Looks like it is going to be as much fun to play as the Amiga version. More news as we get it.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game logo

US Gold, Amiga £19.99

T he man with the hat is back and chasing after the Holy Grail to save it and his father from the evil Nazis. With tongue firmly planted in cheek the funniest of the Indy films is already a huge hit, and accordingly has two games for all us fans to remember it by. The Action Game has been created by UK programmers Tiertex, with Lucasfilm only supervising, and sticks quite closely to the film plot.

The first of the four levels recreates the flashback which starts the movie, with River Phoenix playing the young Indy on a Boy Scouts outing. You start off in the caverns where Indy has discovered treasure hunters looting an archaeological site. Your objective is to grab the Cross of Coronado and escape, but there are plenty of villains to whip into shape and chasms to jump over. There is also the dark - if you don't keep picking torches up the screen goes completely black!

Once Indy escapes the villains give chase, forcing him to take a dramatic ride on a train. You must run along the top of coaches, giraffes and rhino horns while beating up the baddies. The train seems to have grown considerably since its movie appearance, but survive it and level two transforms you into the adult Indy searching Venetian catacombs for a shield, much as level one. The level continues at Castle Brunwald, with Indy now able to use his whip to swing over gaps as he scales the castle walls.

Level three sees you hitching a ride out of Germany on a massive Zeppelin. Unfortunately, mid-flight the Zeppelin is ordered back home and you must escape by getting onboard one of the biplanes slung underneath it. As you bash your way through Nazi stormtroopers passports must be collected to prevent the alarm system being set off! Escape and it's trip to the temple containing the Holy Grail. This is a Metrocross-style level, where you have to sprint along, jumping over razor-sharp blades.

Robin Hogg Tiertex go from strength to strength with titles like Thunderblade and (soon) Strider but they've fallen down quite a lot with some bad titles. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade is, amazingly, one of the latter. Three out of the four levels are strikingly similar in gameplay, slow in pace and generally dull in action. Thankfully the graphics are okay and varied. The idea is stills from the film before each level is neat but the sound effects lack substance. Climbing ladders and walking sedately along ledges is all well and good but best in moderation. The Metrocross-style level at the end is nicely different but it's too little, too late.
Stuart Wynne Capturing the grungy, beat-up atmosphere of the Indy films, complete with begrizzled Harrison Ford and grimy caves was always going to be a tough assignment. And sadly it's a test Tiertex have failed - while the main sprites are reasonable, the backdrops are generally very poor, especially the clouds on the train section. Graphics do not a game make, of course, but with Indy performing as sluggish as he does here, they certainly could help. If you're a real fan you might find this unimaginative, but effective fun- if not, avoid.