Monday, 7 February 2011

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

Nostalgia is a word we use a lot when we talk about old games, and it gets thrown around a whole bunch when old games get a re-release. Let me first indulge in some nostalgia; it's relevant, I promise. It's the early nineties. I have a mere four years under my belt, and my mother decides she needs a computer in the house for work. Excited by what this means for entertainment, she also buys 'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis', and I met my first video game. I spent hours and hours on it and eventually, at a certain point in the game, the combination of early Macintosh technology and rudimentary memory storage resulted in a game-breaking crash at the same point during every playthrough. I was young, I didn't mind, I played something else.
Last year, the re-release of this game was massively overshadowed by that of various other point-and-click adventures that clambered onto Valve's Steam network, and it has been quickly forgotten again. I, presonally, did not miss this second coming. It dawned on me that I had never actually finished the game before, and as soon as I realised that, I had to download it, and download it I did.
"How" is the first question that struck me. More precisely, "How did I ever manage to get that far through the game at the age of four?" and also, "How is it possible that I can remember almost all of this dialogue and almost none of the solutions to the puzzles?" I was genuinely stunned, some of the locations in this game are punishingly difficult to get past, at least without resorting to the wisdom of other players on the internet. I also discovered, to my delight, that there are three possible paths in the game. Replayability! I had no idea the game was so multifaceted.
I was flabbergasted, actually, at how much of the game must surely have gone over my head when I was younger; the dry, sarcastic sense of humour for example. Amazing, as well, is the music in this game. Obviously, it's almost two decades old, but it displays drama and accomplishment better than the soundtracks of some big-budget blockbusters from the current generation, all with really simple, electronically created melodies. I'm certain that in my youth I didn't have the nous to appreciate the 'American scholar taking on the big, bad Third Reich' plot in its brilliantly tounge-in-cheek entirety, but something made me keep playing it.
I think I've figured it out. It's Indy. I'd seen I think one of Dr. Jones' movies before I played the game, and I was already hooked. That's one of the great things about this game, the characters and dialogue are well done enough to keep it immersive, a real achievement when all you can really do is look at the background for things that look like they might be animated. Ok, so the combat is fantastically basic and you won't be surprised if I say the visuals are comically bad, but it's a great story, told in a way that might have you tearing your hair out, but never bored.
Summary: It's fun, it's silly, and it's Indiana Jones. Realistically, a lot of this game is what you would expect from it, it's a bit dated, but whether you find that endearing or frustrating will wind up being a matter of choice.
Recommendation: If you've got time for classic point-and-clicks, and haven't given this one a go yet, you're missing out. It's pretty cheep, and it'd be a shame not to give it a go. If you're more into epic and detailed scenery, explosions and realism then I'd probably give it a miss.

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