Video Game Archaeology 6: Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures

It is time for more Video Game Archaeology! Video Game Archaeology is my monthly exploration of an artifact video game found during my excavations of various bargain bins and yard sales; an examination of a game cast off and long forgotten. This month’s Video Game Archaeology entry is significantly less obscure than any of the previous ones. Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures is not exactly an unknown SNES game, though it is definitely not one of the systems most famous games. Still, it is a game based on one of the most popular film franchises ever. I, however, was wholly unaware of the game until it was released for Virtual Console a couple of years ago. I wasn’t shocked to discover that there had been an Indiana Jones SNES game, but it did stun me that I had managed to remain unfamiliar with it for all that time. At first this lead me to conclude that the game simply wasn’t very good. If was worth playing I would have heard about it. That changed when I noticed that nearly everyone who played had only good things to say about it. When I started doing my Indiana Jones movie reviews earlier this month, I finally decided to drop the 8 space dollars needed to download this and see for myself how good it was.

Boxart for Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures

Image via Wikipedia

Like Big Sky Trooper last month, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures was from LucasArts and published, at least on the SNES, but JVC Musical Industries in 1994, though this was developed by Factor 5. Factor 5 is famous for the Star Wars Rogue Squadron games, though at the time they may have been famous for the Turrican series. Factor 5 and LucasArts had a long successful relationship, but Factor 5 disappeared a few years ago after the failure of Lair for the PS3.

Indy is a standard SNES action game, much like LucasArts’ Super Star Wars series, also for the SNES or Super Castlevania IV. The Castlevania comparison is an easy one, but they are not particularly similar. At least not more than any two SNES action games. They use the standard level progression and utilize passwords instead of saves, both those are just conventions of the genre. They do both share a primary weapon, the whip. In Castlevania it is a vital, versatile tool. In Indy the whip is much more limited. Especially when it comes to using the whip to swing around the stage. It is more fluid and more precise in Castlevania, while in Indy it feels sloppy and somewhat tacked on. Which is strange, because for the most part Indy controls much more fluidly than the arthritic Belmont.

Graphically, Indy is a nice looking game. Not mind-blowing, but a solid, competent SNES game. Apparently in a nice nod to the fact that Harrison Ford played both, Indy’s sprite is largely identical to the Hon Solo sprite from Super Return of the Jedi, though I haven’t played so I cannot confirm this. The music is a bit iffy. Sometimes it is spot on renditions of classic Indy music, sometimes it is kind of crappy renditions of classic Indy music.

As the name suggests, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures provides playable versions of famous scenes from all three original Indy movies. Starting with the temple and boulder chase from Raiders of the Lost Arc. Each game has about 10 levels, give or take a few for a total of 28. I managed to play most of them thanks to my looking the passwords up online manly perseverance. It is about as accurate as a 2D action game version of a movie could hope to be. Sure there are some strange changes, like Walter Donovan’s skeleton after he chooses poorly being the final boss, but most of the stages are somewhat close to how you remember the scenes from the movies. There are a few Mode 7 stages, but I was not impressed.

Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures is a very good game, but it is hardly essential. The fact that so few good games have been made based on these film is baffling, since they are perfect for it. This SNES one is a game worth playing. Maybe not worth tracking down 20 years later, but since it is readily available on Virtual Console I recommend Indy fans give it a whirl, as well as those who appreciate a quality 2D action game.

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