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Jose Angel Villar

Indiana Jones Video Games
2001 - 2010
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ToDoom: Atari

Lost Kingdom

Raiders of the Lost Ark

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Help Support Research Video Games Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Box Cover

Developer: Atari Games
Publisher: Atari Games

Release date:

Programmed by: Howard Scott Warshaw
Graphics by: Jerome Domurat

Technical Info:
Platforms: Atari 2600

Genre: Adventure game

Mode(s): Single-player


The early eighties… Oh the memories. Saturday morning cartoons, Big Wheels, Star Wars toys, and the iconic Atari 2600 with its so-seventies wood paneling and orange-buttoned joysticks. In comparison with the consoles of today, the Atari 2600 is primitive and mock worthy. In its day however, the Atari 2600 was a gaming mainstay for thousands of children across America.

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The opening scene.

Towards the end of its run, just before the advent of the legendary Nintendo Entertainment System and their famous high jumping plumber, the developers of software for the old 2600 started taking advantage of movie tie-ins and produced five movie based games. These titles were Superman, Star Wars: Jedi Arena, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first licensed Indiana Jones video game and to date is the only game dedicated exclusively to the first film in the Indiana Jones series. All other games that incorporate elements of Raiders are usually compilation games like Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures for the Super Nintendo and the Williams Indiana Jones pinball machine which play through the whole trilogy rather than honing in on a single film.


The Story

The game follows the plot of the film, but VERY LOOSELY. The whole game is an early attempt at a Zelda-type adventure scenario. The game begins with Indy (rendered in beautiful 2 bit graphics) being lowered into the Well of Souls with the Ark of the Covenant below him. When he reaches center screen, the Ark and the elevator he comes in on disappears. From there, you had better hit the orange joystick button or Indy will be killed by snakes. Once the button is pressed, Indy is magically transported to what can only be described as "the entrance screen." On this screen, there is a rock, and Indy's whip waiting behind it.

From here on out in the game it is "Indiana Jones and His Adventures In Wonderland." Forget about the film. With the exception of Indy himself and the search for the Lost Ark, there are no similarities. For the remainder of the game, Indy traverses sparse, surreal screens collecting items and braving the perils of such locations as "The Valley of Poison" and the "Room of the Shining Light" to find the Ark. Forget about Belloq and Nazis. They are absent from this game. There is a "Thief" that could be Toht, but "could be" is as close as it comes to the film.

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The Cairo chase scene (left), and Indy chased by a black Thief (right).


For a gamer used to the video games today which have graphics that are capable of rendering recognizable objects and backgrounds, Raiders of the Lost Ark will be a very frustrating gaming experience. The graphics are surreal rather than realistic and it takes an experienced "Atari-eye" to discern what is what in Indy's 2 bit surroundings. "Is that a bag of coins or a grenade?" I found myself asking on many occasions. The play control is also frustrating because one joystick is used to control Indy while the other is used to select items from his inventory. See if you can run away from the Thief AND fumble for your revolver at the same time with that kind of game play.

For all Indiana Jones fans this game is a collector's item because it is a vintage piece of the Raiders merchandising machine in the early eighties and THE FIRST Indiana Jones video game. It also has Raiders artwork on the cartridge and the box that has not been seen anywhere else. For those two reasons, it makes a great display piece in an Indy collection. If you are looking for a game that really engages you with the feel of Indiana Jones style adventuring, I recommend Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom arcade game (from Atari) or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. However, if you are looking for a nostalgic gaming experience with your old Atari, by all means PLAY AWAY! (MF)


Game Chapters

Entrance Room
Temple of the Ancients
- Room of Blinding Light
- Room of the Giant Spider
- Treasure Room
Mesa Field
- Interior Mesa Chamber
- Well of the Souls
Bog Field
Map Room
Thieves Den
Black Market


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