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TheRaider.net Research Video Games Last Crusade - Taito
 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

 
Start Screen

Developer: Taito Corporation
Publisher: Taito Corporation

Release date:
March 1991

Technical Info:
Platforms: Nintendo NES

Genre: Action & Racing Game

Mode(s): Single-player

 

The Indy games made for the old NES always seemed to come in two versions. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was distributed by both Mindscape and Tengen. When the time came to make a game adaptation for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, two companies brought games to the table, Taito and UBI Soft. What follows is a description of the Taito version of Last Crusade, released in 1990.

First off, it must be expressed that this game was in no way an adaptation of the very successful (and still popular) Graphic Adventure. Nor is it an adaptation of the PC "Action Game" edition of Last Crusade which was converted for a whole slew of systems including Commodore 64 and the Sega Master System. This particular game is, for lack of a better term, "unique" to the Indiana Jones video game legacy.

 
 

Story and Gameplay

click to enlarge
Cinematic photo screen.

The game is a combination of platform, overhead racing, Tetris-like puzzle solving, and Memory all rolled into one, which makes for a truly bizarre gaming experience. So let's cut to the chase on this one. The game is structured in an episodic manner that mirrors the locations in the film while not necessarily adhering to the film's narrative progression. For example, at the beginning of the game, Indy received two things in a cinema scene that plays out in a rather well rendered (for the NES) photo montage. He receives a telegram informing him of the location of the Cross of Coronado. He also receives his father's Grail Diary. At this point, the game gives the player the choice of either going to Venice or retrieving the Cross. The player has this kind of freedom for the rest of the game. Provided Indy completes episodes that will provide him with more options, Indy has the freedom to play, or not play, any episode presented to him. For example, retrieving the Cross is entirely optional throughout the game, as is rescuing Indy's father. In other words, there is a "bare minimum" to the episodes Indy must complete. The completion or neglect of episodes will have different affects on the ending of the game (should you manage to complete it).

The levels are always preceded by some very stylized photo montages of Indy and any characters related to the episode in question. For example, there is a big photo of Elsa's face at the beginning of the Venice episode as she greets Dr. Jones and a nice rendering of Castle Brunwald before the Germany episode. Each level has a different flavor of game play. Some levels, such as the episode on the Coronado, are played out in a platform format with Indy on profile beating up on the sailors as he makes his way to the stern of the ship. The motorcycle chase is presented like the car chase classic, Spy Hunter, where Indy is seen from directly overhead on the motorbike, dodging mines and other bikers. Some levels, like Venice, are comprised of intricate cerebral challenges that give the player a dose of thinking in between the action episodes, such as timed slide puzzles.

click to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlarge
Indy fighting on the ship, in Castle Brunwald, and the motorcycle chase.
 
 

Conclusion

The game is a very eclectic series of levels that theoretically should make for a great gaming session, especially seeing as how the game is fairly close to the film and uses John Williams' music. Unfortunately, this game suffers from two major flaws. The first and biggest problem with the game is lousy play control. I have always wondered what it would look like to moonwalk forwards and Indy showed me in this game. Indy is extremely slow in the platform episodes and the only way to get good speed out of him is to put him at his dead sprint "run" mode. This usually ends in his death, as he is too fast to brake in time when obstacles (like large drops or Nazis) appear. Indy's only weapons throughout the game are his limbs and his whip. His whip is worthless if its idiosyncrasies are unknown to the player. Unless Indy is at exactly the proper distance from the target and the whip touches the opponent in exactly the right place and provided that the opponent doesn't rush Indy first, then the whip will work. Otherwise, the Nazi or what have you can whip up on Indy at point blank range while Indy's whip just goes harmlessly over the opponent's head. The whip does help in Castle Brunwald to swing from one balcony to the next, but that is the extent of its usefulness.

click to enlarge
Tank fight.

At this point, Indy must resort to his extensive variety of hand-to-hand tactics to vanquish his enemies. These include punch, kick, the "haymaker" (which is supposedly the most powerful punch, but only succeeds in getting Indy even more injured), and a crazy flying jump kick that would make Jackie Chan jealous. Indy can even run up to a wall, hit it, reverse directions in mid air, and jump kick a pursuer, provided that he jumps at exactly the right moment and his leg lands on the opponent in exactly the right place, otherwise Indy flies through the enemy. I never knew Indy was a ninja until I played this game. Even with all of these moves, the enemies take an unreal amount of punishment before they drop. The real Indiana Jones would be ashamed at this Indy's ineptitude.

The second and final problem is that once you get over the learning curve in the game control, the game becomes extremely repetitive, easy, and short. At only 12 years old, I found myself clearing the game in ten to fifteen minutes easy every time. If curiosity is getting the better of you, if you have made the Indy gaming promise to yourself to clear all the Indy games, all of these NES ventures are easily emulated. Just take my word for it that there will never be a Last Crusade video game that tops The Graphic Adventure. As with Tengen's Temple of Doom, Taito's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a great collector's item for Indy fans and Nintendo enthusiasts, but beyond that "I'm afraid it's little more than a souvenir." (MF)

 

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