Saturday, June 14, 2008

Two Great Tastes

That go great together - LEGOs and Indiana Jones. Mmmmm....

Picked up this Wii title because the Star Wars version did so well, although I never got it for the Wii because it wasn't really a Wii game, just a game on the Wii. No use of the Wiimote for anything other than mashing buttons. Still, I liked the newest Indy movie and I've always loved the franchise, so I did something I never do and bought a game based on a movie. Actually, three movies because the game replays the original trilogy. Better yet, you can skip Temple of Doom if you don't feel like hearing Kate Capshaw squawk. 

I spent a couple of hours getting through the first two chapters of the original Raiders portion of the game, which cover the Amazonian prelude that introduced the character in a way that hasn't been repeated since, as well as the Tibetan sequence where Indy finds the Magnifying Glass of the Gods. 

There are a lot of cute cutscenes that take a lot of liberties with the movies, which I think adds a lot. For example, there's a part in the first cutscene where Indy, map pasted to the front of his face, narrowly misses falling into a pit, but one of his porters doesn't. Two tribesmen are watching, one of them giggling until the other shoots him a look. Pretty cute, and there are lots of little moments like that.

And that's a good thing, because the game is fun and all, but there are problems. First up is the apparent design goal that "breaking every piece of furniture in sight is good". Remember how Mario had some suppressed anger regarding wooden crates? Indy has that about every table and chair in the place, and you'll want to break everything in sight so you can get extra hearts and cash. And you will need the cash to buy extra characters, as one of the cool things is you can switch from one character to another. For example, Marion is a much better jumper than Indy, so you need her to get into areas that he can't reach. 

Another problem I had was the "endless pursuers" mechanism. Not only do you have to figure out how to solve all of these puzzles, you also have to fight off wave after wave of henchmen. Wave after wave. Until you figure out the puzzle. Sort of like doing a crossword while in a car with a ADHD kid's soccer team. Most of the puzzles require you figuring out how to get to a certain spot, then using the correct character to build the necessary piece out of the pieces in the area. That in itself is pretty cool (although don't use Indy for this - it uses the same button as his whip, and about 55% of my mashing was wasted). I went through about 40 waves of bad guys at the Tibetan bar before I figured out what I needed to do, and it's not always obvious. 

Finally, as I said before this game could be on any platform. The graphics are great, although you can't change the camera angle for a couple of "hidden" spots, and the LEGO theming is really quite good. At no time, however, do you actually use the Wiimote as it was designed, through shaking or pointing. That's not an entirely bad thing, as my personal opinion is that they shouldn't try to fit a square Wiimote in a round hole if it doesn't work. However, it makes the game just another video game instead of a Wii game. 

I definitely like the 3D platformer implementation - I liked Mario Bros back in the day, and this has a very similar play style, although extended to three dimensions. You want to find all of the pieces of the "artifact" for each area, and there's a special room at the College where you can review progress on each level, as well as moving between the various movies if you wish. So if you get stuck on one level, you can go play a different movie for a while. 

There are an incredible number of animations in the game - in the parts I saw, I watched Indy punch, kick, and flip enemies, throw chairs, break bottles, fire crossbows and guns, and of course use the whip. And that's just combat. You can even have Marion do the same things, although she doesn't have a whip. The best section so far (of course) is the "run from the really big ball of rock" scene, which is not that hard to do as long as you aren't too greedy for getting every piece of coin in the game. 

I'm a little concerned that I can't save my game in the middle of a level. While it wouldn't take too long to get through the areas you've already completed because you know what has to happen when, it's still a little annoying to have to give up the entire level's progress just because you have to put the game away. 

Still, all in all it's hard to judge a game just because the port to the Wii didn't take full advantage of it's motion sensitivity. It's a cool enough game that I'm tempted to find the Star Wars LEGO game (at least for the Mac if not for the Wii) and have some fun with it. 

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