30 Days of Xbox: Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

That music! That hat! That whip! And yet…
There’s a lot of love out there for Indiana Jones (as long as you never mention anything made of crystal), but for Indiana Jones videogames? Aside from the Lucasarts adventure games (which, let’s face it, is a niche of gaming for the adventure crowd) there’s relatively little that really stands out. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you consider that not only does the core material lend itself so very well to videogame formats.
Really, everyone else has done it, either concurrently or first, from Rick Dangerous to Lara Croft and more lately, Nathan Drake, who couldn’t be more Indy-esque without a John Williams score.

Yeah, that one. I guess Naughty Dog might get sued at that point.
Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is built on the same engine as the Xbox Buffy games (both of which I considered playing, and still might), and it certainly ticks the right boxes in terms of content, theme and even look and sound.
The soundalike they’ve got for Indy is decent (but clearly not Harrison Ford) and the model is likewise identifiably Doctor Jones. There are some liberties taken — I’m not sure I recall a scene in any of the Indiana Jones movies where he brutally beats a thug to death with a spade — but not too many.
It’s not exactly tough, with plenty of signposted puzzles and enemy AI that’s fairly forgiving. It does do Indy-style punchups well, though, with satisfying noises and multiple attack modes. You can always take foes on with the whip or a machete, which is curiously bloodless when you strike it straight through an enemy. It’s a bit like Mola Ram doing his famous open heart surgery with no blood…
Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is one of those games that (rights tangles notwithstanding) I could see somebody polishing up and making a decent modern version of, although I wonder if the property and the costs associated with Disney wouldn’t make that a non-starter.

Fat Duck Tech Retro Xbox Game Rankings

  1. Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time
  2. Taito Legends 2
  3. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
  4. Panzer Dragoon Orta
  5. Outrun 2
  6. Ninja Gaiden
  7. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
  8. Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb
  9. Godzilla: Save The Earth
  10. The Punisher
  11. SSX Tricky
  12. NFL Street
  13. Disney Extreme Skate Adventure
  14. FIFA 2004
  15. NHL Rivals 2004
  16. Rocky
  17. Spy vs Spy
  18. Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers
  19. Rugby League
  20. Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death
  21. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball

Indy is a decent game, but not quite a great one. I’d like to return to it, if only to work through the game’s narrative, so it well and truly earns its place on my Xbox gaming shelf.
Next time: Things get dark.

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