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TheRaider.net Research Video Games Desktop Adventures
 

Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures

 
Box Cover

Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts

Release date:
April 30, 1996

Project Leader: Hal Barwood
Story by: Hal Barwood, Wayne Cline
Game Design by: Hal Barwood, Paul D. LeFevre, Tom Payne, Wayne Cline
Lead Programmer: Paul D. LeFevre
Lead Artist: Tom Payne
Music & Sound Effects by: Clint Bajakian

Technical Info:
Platforms: PC Windows, Apple Mac

Genre: Adventure/Puzzle game

Mode(s): Single-player

 

It is hard nowadays to recall a time when most computers still ran DOS and Microsoft Windows was merely a front end. Twelve years ago, Windows 95 was only a year old and people were just getting used to the idea that they would not have to type "C:\win" anymore to get to Windows. DOS was on its way out and the Microsoft revolution was in full swing, complete with cute little graphics of folders and "Recycle Bins" to make the PC friendly for computer users of every skill level (and bury the Apple Macintosh at the same time).

click to enlarge
"X marks the spot!"

Many companies jumped on the Windows 95 revolution and started flooding the software market with programs and applications software for the new operating system. All manners of spreadsheet programs, art and photography graphics editors, and the famous Quicken accounting software piled up on the shelves. LucasArts, now one of the top gaming companies in the business, decided to tap into a niche of Windows that was not so heavily trafficked by other software developers. Already riding high off of a whole slew of now classic games including Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Rebel Assault, the LucasArts crew decided to develop a new game to target a new audience.

The popularity of Windows' stock game, Solitaire, has never waned. At the time, LucasArts attempted to target the Solitaire player with a product that would install right up next to it and its little brother, Minesweeper. They designed it to be just as light, fun, and easily played as the aforementioned games for people while they were at the office, on a business flight, etc. The only difference between Microsoft's games and the LucasArts game would be that the latter's would star Indiana Jones. The game was named Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures and it played in a window the same size as Minesweeper.

 
 

Story and Gameplay

click to enlarge
Temple amidst jungle.

The game was budget software from the onset, always designed to target the Solitaire player and not the hardcore video gamer. As a result, Indy fans waiting for a knock down, drag out sequel to the blockbuster Fate of Atlantis were quickly disappointed. This game was certainly not for them. The game structure was extremely simple and almost juvenile. The entire game plays out in a window approximately two thirds the size of an average postcard. Players control Indy completely with the mouse and the game is seen from a "Legend of Zeldaesque" perspective with the view directly overhead and Indiana and all of the people he interacts with looking like those stumpy little people that come with Fisher-Price pre-school toys.

The game is intended to provide brief, but fun entertainment. The game randomly generates a quest for Indy and, depending on what settings you have chosen, each game takes approximately thirty minutes to complete. The games are like "mini-Zeldas" where Indy must talk to people, possibly help them, collect items for his quest, fight off some baddies, and retrieve the idol or what have you. There are only fifteen different quests, but the gimmick to the program is that it utilizes a "world generator" that can create countless maps. So even though the quest might be the same, the world Indy must traverse and the subplots to the end goal could be completely different.

click to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlarge
Indy entering a Mexican town, interior of a house & trading with locals.
 
 

Conclusion

Desktop Adventures is literally "Indy gaming on the go". It is a very nice companion to have on the laptop on a long flight to Cairo, but if you want an epic Indiana Jones adventure, look elsewhere. I enjoy the game in this context, but for long spells of playing at home, I must recommend something else. While the game boasts "billions of possibilities" the subplots start to repeat quickly and it becomes tiresome to have to go looking for the "ladder" every other level. It also becomes very fatiguing to have the same conversations with the same people over and over again every level. The small playing window is frustrating (especially when running a 1024x768 resolution) because the cursor often slips off the window and one click after that hides the game screen under whatever folder is open beneath it. The game holds my attention for only a few minutes at a stretch, perfect for travel and random leisure time (like a break at the office) but lousy otherwise.

Overall, it is a very slick little desktop accessory and a nice alternative to Mindsweeper and Solitaire. Keep in mind to reserve it purely for travel and moments of pure boredom. If you find that you really enjoy the style of the game, but tire of the scenarios, I recommend that you go get the "sequel", Yoda Stories, which is Desktop Adventures in the Star Wars universe. Remember there is no way to "beat" this kind of game, so "if you want facts Indy, I've none to give you." (MF)

 

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