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Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade

Genre: Action Developer: Tiertex Publisher: U.S. Gold Players: 1 Released: 1992

I always wonder where it did go wrong with movie licensed games. Did it start with the disputed “Atari Video Game Burial” in which millions of unsold copies of the crappy E.T. game for the Atari 2600 where buried in a New Mexican landfill? Or if that story is a hoax then where did it go wrong? In any case, bad movie licensed games have been around for years. When the Genesis was popular those games already had a long life behind them and producers were greedy enough to soil the wide range of Genesis and Super Nintendo games with them as well.

In my opinion, The Last Crusade is the second best movie in the series after Raiders of the Lost Ark. At least it’s a hundred times better than the awful second part which was called Temple of Doom. The Last Crusade spawned a lot of commercial games; there was even a PC/Amiga adventure released with the exactly same title as this one, though the games have nothing in common. The action/platformer based on the Last Crusade got a multiple platform release (Genesis, Master System, NES, Game Boy, Game Gear) and is officially known as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game to avoid possible confusion with the adventure game. For the Genesis version it’s only on the label of the cartridge itself that this crappy extension of the title is mentioned.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a four level platform game, all of which are loosely based on fragments of the movie. The player can pick two difficulty settings: easy and hard, but even on easy the game manages to be annoyingly hard. The biggest contribution to the immense difficulty is the unresponsive and anti-intuitive control scheme. When Indy reaches the end of a ledge he automatically drops off. The players actually has to press the jump button a split second before he reaches the end of any ledge. This is especially hard in the second stage when Indy has to walk on a moving train, but more about that later.

Besides jumping, Indy has the ability to punch and whip his, well, whip. The punch is totally useless most of the time since the reach of it is very small and enemies are seldom close. The whip is more useful, but the more you use it the less powerful it becomes and the more hits are needed to take out an enemy. Furthermore, the whip can be used to swing over certain areas – just like in the movie – but it works very counter-intuitively. Indy doesn’t want to jump to make his whip reach a spot at which it can be attached, instead the player has to stand still and just press the whip button! Yes, it took me some time to figure that out, which was pretty annoying.

Another irritating aspect is the amazingly number of cheap hits the players will receive in this game. In the first cave level Indy can get hit by (unseen) falling spikes of the ceiling, by falling into shallow water (since when did that hurt the hero who was “named after a dog”?), by hitting his head on the ceiling when he jumps too high and by enemies with some of the cheapest A.I. ever, who shoot, punch or throw knives at our hero.

I managed to finish the first level, but the game doesn’t get much better after that. In the second level Indy is walking on a moving train constantly bothered by enemies (like giraffes sticking their heads out of carriages – yeah right, giraffes), jumps between carriages and over unclear obstacles. This stage is near-on impossible, no matter if you’re playing the game on easy. When you finally seem to reach the end of it you’ll mess up due to the overwhelming cheap A.I. or loose control, leaving you frustrated as hell. The only way I managed to surpass it was by using the level select code which, thank God, exists for this horrible product.

If you thought the second stage was hopelessly annoying, go give the third and fourth stages a try. The third is a Dracula-like castle at which Indy constantly dies when he falls off a platform into… grass. Later on he dies from falling into… a pile of bones. The fourth stage is composed of catacombs that contain moving blades which apparently can be avoided if one can manage the counter-intuitive methods to do as much.

There aren’t any saving graces for Last Crusade either. The graphics look quite bland and are very low on animation. Each level just contains one type of enemy that only differs in their choice of weapons. The “end bosses” of each stage (if you ever manage to reach them) are laughably cheap and the music is an ever-repeating uninspired tune of the Indiana Jones theme. Other sound effects range from bad to non-existent. If you want a real laugh at the cheap-ass A.I., try the hard mode.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a short game, but due to the annoying control, cheap A.I. and insane difficulty level, most gamers probably will kick this horrible product into the dusty part of their game collection before finishing it. And that’s rightly so, because it is just one of the many games that proves that for unclear reasons, movies and games seldom form a quality mix. Actually, that’s quite an euphemistic statement for such a turd as this game manages to be! I’m already wondering what kind of games will be produced based on the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones movies. I won’t set my expectation too high.

SCORE: 3 out of 10

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