|Developer:||Lucasfilm Games|||||Release Date:||1989|||||Systems:||Amiga, Atari ST, CDTV, DOS, FM Towns, Macintosh, Windows|
This week on Super Adventures, I'm having a quick look at another one of those Lucasfilm/LucasArts adventures. It wasn't really part of my masterplan to play a pair of Sam & Max games in July then follow them up with a pair of Monkey Islands in September, but seeing as that happened I might as well finish the trilogy with a duology of Indiana Joneses. Uh, bit of a spoiler for the next game there, sorry.
The difference this time though is that I've never played this and I've got no idea what it's like. I don't even know if it's considered to be any good. But one thing I do know is that its full title is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, as Lucasfilm also developed a multi-platform Last Crusade platformer in the same year called The Action Game and they didn't want gamers to get them confused. That's good responsible labelling, I applaud them.
Weirdly another developer called Software Creations went and made a third Last Crusade game a couple of years later, exclusive to the NES. Which means the console got two entirely different Last Crusade action games. Later Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures and LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures would revisit the movie as well. Not a whole lot of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull games out there though, you'll be shocked to learn.
It’s not an animation of the Gold Guy LucasArts Man jumping around with an Indiana Jones hat on or whatever, but it’ll do. Lucasfilm Games were still months away from transforming into LucasArts at this point, though I'll be seeing the famous 'L' logo at the start of their next adventure, Fate of Atlantis. And I'd better see it do something.
I'd been wondering if anyone I've heard of had worked on the game and now I know. Ron Gilbert, David Fox, Steve Purcell, James Cameron... oh sorry, I read that last one wrong. Still, having people who would go on to make Secret of Monkey Island and Sam & Max: Hit the Road on the team is definitely a good sign. Also it turns out that this is running on the mighty SCUMM engine which powered all the LucasArts classics from Maniac Mansion up to Curse of Monkey Island.
Well our hero's goal was to change into dry clothes and he’s done that by himself, so now I don’t know what to do. Teach archaeology I guess? There's so many verbs down at the bottom of the screen that I'm sure 'teach' has to be in there somewhere.
You know what the game doesn't have though? Music. Not here anyway.
Well I'm in the ring now so I might as well see what happens when I choose to spar with the boxing coach.
Our punch power bars regenerate while we’re not punching, so I guess the trick is to keep my distance until I can strike with the heaviest blow. Trouble is, I don’t know how to back away or punch. The mouse does nothing!
Well I just knocked out the boxing coach. I'm sure he'll be fine though, no need to get someone in to check up on that sudden traumatic loss of consciousness. I mean he was only out for 10 minutes, going by the text that flashed on screen.
Okay I've been in college for a quarter of an hour and I've already left a puddle on the floor and beaten someone senseless, so let's see what else I can do here (because the game's not giving me any hints).
The interface looks very Monkey Island, but it's not quite as user friendly. For one thing it doesn't automatically select a sensible verb for what I right mouse click on. If I want to talk to someone, I have to click that 'Talk' button (or press the shortcut key).
Also it doesn't automatically tell me what my cursor's hovering over; I have to click 'What is' before I can sweep the screen to see what I can interact with. Then once I've memorised where the objects are, I have to 'Look' at each of them to find out what they are.
Could be worse though. At least I don't have to click 'Walk to' every time I want to go somewhere.
|(Lines only vaguely point to the right month, especially for the earlier games.)|
Last Crusade is down there on the bottom left, before Monkey Island but after Maniac Mansion. The film came out in 1989 as well so they timed that well. Sadly the last of the original Star Wars trilogy came out in 1983, a few years too early for us to get a Return of the Jedi: The Graphic Adventure game.
Actually, looking at this has just reminded me of something.
Plus why does it have INDY written across the top in giant letters, with the actual title hidden just below it in tiny text?
There's some nice shadows on the wall next to the front door though. That's a point, I could always try just walking out of college. Maybe he's not even supposed to be working here today, maybe he just wanted to punch someone and drip everywhere.
Man that's some weird shading on those students. The two on the bottom left have to make do with just two colours for their shirts, while the girls next to them have a full dithered gradient across their skirts.
The game was originally designed for EGA video cards, so the development team originally had to make the best of a very limited set of colours (most of them bad). I'm playing the shiny VGA rerelease though, which was completely redrawn to make use of the hardware's redefinable 256 colour palette... with gradients on every wall! I think the artists must have gone a bit mad with power at times.
|Amiga version compared to VGA DOS version.|
I'm also kind of surprised to see Sam & Max show up (in their various forms), but with Steve Purcell working on the game it makes sense. Indy claims he recovered the totem pole from a strange Brazilian tribe that worships dogs and rabbits, so basically he stole it and then dragged it all the way from Brazil. And now it’s taking up space in his office. Maybe he should think about moving some of this stuff somewhere else, like to a museum perhaps?
He's also got a statue of a 'thousand year old falcon' sitting on his desk, which apparently means a lot to him. Not enough for him to take the damn thing with him though! Or that meteor fragment dripping with purple slime. My inventory's feeling so empty right now.
I was able to take the pile of junk mail though, revealing… a pile of letters! Then I took the pile of letters, revealing… a pile of papers. Eventually he dug down deep enough to recover a package from the desk. It’s his father’s Grail Diary, containing everything the man knows about the location of the Holy Grail! I haven't actually got any goals yet but I feel like I've achieved something.
To be honest I actually quit and loaded the Steam version of the game to take this picture, as ScummVM uses its own save menu. Steam's version runs fine and looks perfect once you turn off the filtering, but the music quality is terrible and I couldn't find a way to fix it, so I just stuck the files into ScummVM and used that instead.
I tried picking up everything else in the room, but there was nothing left to do but jump out of the window to freedom. I can already feel my I.Q. points rising.
Donovan wants Indy to go to Venice to discover a clue to the location of the Holy Grail. Indy's not all that interested though, as the Grail was always his dad's obsession. The thing is, they already sent his father and he's gone missing, so Indy's got a bloody good reason to fly over there.
Which means I've got myself an actual goal! I've finally hit plot.
I guess I'll just go back inside then and try clicking on everything again, hopefully stumble across the next bit of the story. It's really frustrating having no clear idea of what I'm supposed to be doing, especially when my character himself would know. C'mon Indy, its your life I'm living, give me a clue.
Oh hang on, I just realised that the ‘Travel’ option is lit! I can either go to his dad's house or take a plane to Venice. I can’t remember what Indy does in the movie, but it seems to me I should get all the info on the Grail I can before flying off to Europe, so I'm checking out the house first.
painting of a trophy. Indy himself painted it when he was a little boy, so I'm sure that'll come in useful on my quest. There was a chest there too, but it was locked so I had to leave it be for now.
Then I chose to fly to Venice and look, it's a proper Indiana Jones map scene!
Now I'm in an library filled with nothing but book stacks, plaques and Roman numerals, trying to find myself a puzzle and solve it. I wish I could remember what they did here in the film, but I’m drawing a total blank.
Okay, the plaques all seem to be in-jokes so I'll ignore them for now and the numerals are just minding their own business on the floor. The stacks on the other hand all go somewhere, so I'll check them out.
I'll see what's through the next pair of book stacks.
Why do I get the feeling I’m in a 'forest maze'? Like I need some kind of map to know what bookcases to walk through in what order. Oh hang on, maybe I've been carrying a map with me the whole time...
Grail Diary's as good as any hint book! Well for solving this particular puzzle anyway, Indy won't even read the thing anywhere else.
Third on the left huh? The third numeral carved into the left pillar in the room with that window design was... IX!
So now I need to find a crowbar in Venice. Or something else that provides leverage. Shouldn't be hard, they probably have all kinds of shops around here.
Talk' button is ghosted out so I can't speak to anyone up here. In fact I've only been able to speak to people twice in the entire game so far, which seems crazy. To be fair though it's infinitely more than I'd be able to in Maniac Mansion or Zak McKracken, as this is actually the first Lucasfilm Games adventure to include a 'Talk' button.
It's a shame really because if I could speak, I'd ask that couple over there on the left to give me their bottle of wine. Right, where did I leave that metal post? I really feel like smashing something now.
So that clue about needing 'leverage' earlier was just to throw me off track then?
You can imagine how this would be a bit awkward to navigate at the original resolution, but it's actually worse than you think.
HATES water? What?
No that's snakes mate, he hates snakes. And Nazis.
Either way he won't swim across, which is a bit of a shame really as I was doing pretty well down here until I ran into this dead end. I found myself a hook to grab, a torch I couldn't move and a slab I couldn't lift. It's like I'm playing a proper adventure game!
Wow, it turns out he didn't really need to solve that Roman numerals puzzle after all, as getting the manhole cover in the restaurant open would've done just as well. All I needed was leverage.
Well, I’m stuck. I can’t reach the rusty lock on the grate, I can’t shift the slab in the other room cause my hands slip, I can’t light the torch or pull it from the wall, and I can’t swim across the water. Plus I still can’t get the lovers in the restaurant upstairs to give up their bottle of crappy wine.
I give up, I’m checking a walkthrough, so I can reach some kind of natural conclusion to this article before 2017.
Huh, Indy's supposed to be able to just grab the wine right off the table after he's taken a look at it and confirmed out loud that it's crap? But I always 'Look' at everything... or at least I thought I did.
Oh wow, it worked this time, I have the wine bottle! Now I know exactly what I need to do next.
I used the wine bottle in the flooded cave to fill it up, then poured the water onto the torch to dampen the hard mud fixing it to the wall. Mind you I expected the torch to come off when I 'Pull'ed it, not drop me into another dark maze. Which makes no sense really when you think about it, as there's clearly light shining up on him as he falls.
Now I just have to use the red cordon to... oh, that didn't work. Oh duh, I know what I need to use!
Yes, I’m basically a genius. Oh wait, I've just permanently blocked my path to that cave on the other side. Well I'm an idiot. Though to be fair I'm not used to LucasArts games giving me the opportunity to screw myself over like this.
I backtracked and found a way back up to dark maze #1 (turns out that the slab I couldn't open earlier was the hatch to a ladder). Then I trekked back to the now un-flooded cave, and walked across to find...
Well I was looking for good excuse to turn the game off I suppose.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure literally gave me a headache. I'm in pain now as I'm typing this. But I don't dislike it in the way I do games like Dark Seed. It's got too much of that Lucasfilm Games charm. By that I mean I like watching Indiana Jones fall down holes. Plus it's much prettier than I expected, looking like a proper predecessor to Secret of Monkey Island.
I mentioned in my Dropsy writings last month that I struggled to get into the game because a lot of the appeal of point and click adventures for me is the dialogue, and it didn't have any. Well this has that exact same problem, as I barely found anyone to chat with. The 'Talk' button got about as much use in the end as the 'Pull' button.
But my main issue with the game (besides having to keep manually clicking 'What is' before scanning my mouse pointer across the screen for items) is that it wasn't pulling me forward. The best point and click adventures give you things you want to get done, this just dropped me into places and left me to look for puzzles on my own.
Also I browsed that walkthrough a little and turns out that I could've found a map to the catacombs if I'd took the time to search those books inside the library. Trouble is that there's no clue it's there and by the time you realise you need a map, you're already stuck in the maze and the only way back out to the library is through. Plus that cave I blocked off with the waterfall? Turns out it contains a crucial clue, necessary to beat the game. And Indy can even get killed later on. This isn't your typical friendly LucasArts adventure, with no way to die or get hopelessly stuck. Though on the plus side there's more scope to find alternate solutions than most LucasArts games allow.
Sadly from reading actual reviews from people who've actually finished the game, it seems that what I played of it was the good bit, as there's a lot more fighting later on, along with other rubbish mini-games and trial and error dialogue puzzles. Worse still, health doesn't fully return between fights so you can win every battle and still lose by attrition.
If I was going to rank all the LucasArts adventures I've played from best to worse, from what I've seen of it this belongs to be right down at the very bottom. But it's probably the best of the Last Crusade games at least!
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