Thursday, 7 February 2013

Game 28: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Final Rating

Well LucasArts can seemingly do no wrong, at least at this stage of the adventure game evolution. I really enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and while it’s not a flawless game, it was extremely well made and thoroughly entertaining throughout. The main question I have though is whether or not the game can surpass the 62 I gave both Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken. I’m thinking the PISSED rating scale may favour the sheer professionalism on show here…

Puzzles and Solvability
Overall I really enjoyed the puzzle aspects of the game, but there are some flaws to mention. For starters, it should come as no surprise that I think there were too many mazes in the game. It seems to me that the designers realised the game would have been very short without at least a few superfluous mazes to keep the player occupied. That being said, it’s nowhere near as bad as it was in Zak McKracken, and I really enjoyed the castle section of the game (which I was able to map easily), which I guess could be considered a maze of sorts. There’s also a bit too much emphasis on trial and error to solve the conversation puzzles. LucasArts quickly learnt how to use the branching dialogue systems in games like Monkey Island, but their first attempt didn’t quite hit the mark. I'm nitpicking though, as the typical point and click puzzles were quality, had a good difficulty balance (apart from a couple of obtuse solutions near the start), and the many alternate solutions (that were mostly pointed out to me by readers) were very impressive indeed. I also finished the game without requiring assistance, which may not be a very objective way to judge the solvability, but undoubtedly increased my enjoyment.
Rating 7

Finding the correct dialogue path is purely guesswork and for me resulted in stacks of restores.

Interface and Inventory
The SCUMM interface was already the best in the business, but Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade managed to improve upon it. Dropping some of the more superfluous actions (“Read”, “Put on” and “Take off”) certainly helped, but it was the addition of “Look” and “Talk” that pretty much removed every cause for frustration I had in LucasArts' previous adventure games. The inventory is exactly the same as before, which means it works perfectly well when combined with the sentence building action interface, but becomes a little unruly once you’ve got more than about eight items in there (although that happens rarely in this game and never for very long). That leaves only the action sections to discuss, which unfortunately is not where the game shines. While I proved that fighting is not completely necessary to complete the game (well...almost), it’s overly difficult to keep enough health intact if that’s the way you choose to play. Flying the plane is also not much fun, but it’s probably the first trial in the temple that shows the limitations of SCUMM for action based puzzles. If you don’t have a “duck” action, how can the player duck? Take the 7 that Zak got, add 1 for the verb interface improvements and remove 1 for the action issues...
Rating: 7

Even when I was really good at blocking, my health bar decreased quickly for no particular reason

Story and Setting
Let’s start with the good. This is a game where you get to play as Indiana Jones and hunt down the Holy Grail across various locations. Can that really be bad!? The game designers had it easy on that front, and all the Grail articles, inscriptions and dialogue were entertaining and intriguing. That said, I still had a lot of problems with the story for one simple reason. I haven’t seen the movie in about ten years! There are characters in the game that serve no purpose whatsoever, other than to make the scenes as much like the movie as possible. As far as I could tell, Marcus does absolutely nothing in the game (he wasn’t even given a name for a while), yet he turned up all over the place. Elsa played a similar role and it’s possible that I simply didn’t experience the alternate sections where they played a part, but I have to say it was off-putting. It may have made complete sense to someone familiar with the movie, but I don't think that should be a prerequisite. Other scenes feel really forced, and make giving the player a choice a bit of a farce. I found three completely different ways to rescue Henry, but no matter what I did, we always got recaptured immediately, I’m guessing so we could re-enact the chair scene that must have been in the film. I still don’t know what purpose me scaling the castle wall and finding Henry through the window could possible serve, and Donovan killing himself at the end because he was impatient was more than a little unsatisfying.
Rating: 5

Oh...and what are you actually doing here?

Sound and Graphics
The use of sound effects is slightly better than in Zak McKracken. Gone are the pops and grating sounds that were a feature of the previous two LucasArts outings, replaced by more realistic if not terribly frequent sound effects. The music is of course classic, being John Williams highly memorable theme, but there are other moody pieces of music that suit the underground and suspenseful sections of the game that I didn't recognise. I have to give a huge amount of credit to the graphics team for the amazing job they did with only sixteen colours. I’m sure the VGA version looks better, but for EGA, this is about as good as it gets. The animation is also very impressive, with Indy looking awesome swinging across the room with his whip. All up I’d have to say that this is the best looking game on the list so far, surpassing the SCI0 games from Sierra and Zak McKracken fairly convincingly. Still, I have to be careful with this category, as there’s a LONG way to go from here. I can't rate it less than Hero's Quest or Zak, so 7 it is!
Rating: 7

The animation is smooth and convincing and I really can't believe what they did with sixteen colours!

Environment and Atmosphere
The environment, as you would expect in an Indiana Jones game, is really quite varied. A New York college, tunnels beneath a library in Venice, a Nazi filled castle in Germany, an ancient temple in Turkey, it’s all well visualised and interesting. Given how wide-ranging the locations are that Indy visits throughout the game, it’s unsurprising that the atmosphere is also quite varied. I personally found the whole castle section of the game, which for me made up half of my playing time, to have a great atmosphere, not only due to the location and the lightning filled backdrop, but also due to the suspenseful nature of the setup. I know others found trying to evade guards to rescue Henry to be tiresome, but I really enjoyed what was a challenging experience and found it difficult to pull myself away from it. I can't say any of the other sections matched this part of the game for atmosphere, but it is impressive how perfectly the designers captured the feeling of fun and adventure that is found in all the Indy movies. I'm going with a 6 here, as some sections are clearly just there to follow the movie's structure and add very little value.
Rating: 6

Norman Bates had nothing on this!

Dialogue and Acting
Many readers predicted that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade would clean up in this category and I can’t argue. It’s the first game to bring any sophistication to conversations, with branching dialogue paths and alternate puzzle solutions found only by exploring these paths. As I’ve already mentioned earlier, it’s by no means perfect (there’s too much trial and error needed to find the right branch of conversation), but it’s a big step in the right direction and one I’ve never heard attributed to this particular game. Even ignoring that aspect, the actual story dialogue is fantastic, and it should come as no surprise that it’s both cinematic and thoroughly entertaining throughout. LucasArts raised the bar in this game while keeping the level of precision and professionalism that was already prevalent in their creations. I’m giving it the first 7 for this category, but games will have to improve from here to get the same.
Rating: 7

It helped that I could hear Harrison Ford's voice in my head throughout the entire game.

7+7+5+7+6+7 = 39 divided by 60 = 0.65 multipled by 100 equals....65! Wow, that's possibly a little higher than I was expecting, but I can't really find any reason to drop any of the numbers. I did really enjoy the game, and even dropping a point back to 64 would leave it firmly in second place on the board behind Hero's Quest. I think I'll leave it at 65, which means the winner of the Tex Murphy pack is...

...we have a tie!!! Both Tymoguin and marc-aut predicted 65, so I'm going to have to figure out a way to decide upon a winner. I'm tempted to give it to Tymoguin as he also predicted that the game would get the first 7 for Dialogue and Acting, but that doesn't seem entirely fair. You know what? I'm feeling generous. You both win and I'll pay for one myself. Congratulations! Send an email to and I'll reply with the GOG codes.

50 CAPs for TBD
Riddle Solution Award – 30 CAPs – For solving my Bad Mojo riddle. The hardest one yet!
Technical Assistance Award – 10 CAPs – For explaining how to get MT-32 audio working
Alternate Solution Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me about an optional area

30 CAPs for Andy_Panthro
Alternate Solution Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me of an alternate solution to the student problem
Mein Kampf Award – 10 CAPs – For letting me know how I could have evaded the security guard
Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing the game with me

25 CAPs for mpx
Alternate Solution Award – 10 CAPs – For telling me how to meet Hitler
Kickstarter Award – 10 CAPs – For announcing the awesome Dreamfall Chapters Kickstarter project
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about a new adventure game sale on GOG

20 CAPs for Lars-Erik
Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games

20 CAPs for Deimar
Minor Assist Award – 10 CAPs – For explaining the wine bottle scenario and sheet music in general
Alternate Solution Award – 10 CAPs – For explaining how I could have evaded guard 11

20 CAPs for Jarikith
Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing the game with me
Alternate Solution Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me of the ability to get a map to the catacombs

15 CAPs for Cush1978
Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing the game with me
Severed Head Award – 5 CAPs – For answering my question about the rolling head

15 CAPs for Tymoguin
Clairvoyant Award - 10 CAPs - For predicting the score I would give the game
Captain Dialogue Award - 5 CAPs - For predicting that the game would be the first to score 7 for Dialogue

15 CAPs for Charles
Storytelling Award – 10 CAPs – For linking to a fascinating and Indy related story
Marcus Brody Appreciation Award – 5 CAPS – For telling me who Marcus Brody is

10 CAPs for Laukku
Version Warning Award – 10 CAPs – For warning me about the differences with playing the game in SCUMMVM

10 CAPs for Chumazik
Indy Quotient Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me how to get my Indy Quotient when I thought I couldn’t

10 CAPs for Canageek
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about a new game called The Cave
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For commenting about a new adventure game sale on GOG

10 CAPs for Aperama
Australia Day Award – 10 CAPs – For solving my Beneath a Steel Sky riddle

10 CAPs for Pacpix
Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing the game with me

9 CAPs for marc-aut
Minor Clairvoyant Award - 9 CAPs - For being the second person to predict the score I would give the game

5 CAPs for Ilmari
Trickster Assist Award – 5 CAPs – For defending the honour and integrity of The Trickster


  1. My first guess and already won :)
    I would have given the prize to Tymoguin, cause i didn't do much but reading your blog ;)
    The last time i've played the was to long, i hardly renember anything but the castle. Looking forward to Fate of Atlantis, it was a supreme game.

  2. Oh gosh! I was pretty much positive about the 7 in Dialog and Acting, but I didn't expect to guess it right overall my first time 'round. I guess marc-aut and I are pretty cool!

  3. I wonder what will be the first non-Sierra/Lucasfilm –game to get to the Top rated games –list?

    The next game, Larry 3, had some technical issues. Apparently Al Lowe made a clever algorithm, which made certain part of the game take MORE time, the faster your computer was. From personal experience I can say that even at the end of the nineties computers were way too fast and it was pretty tedious to get through this part of the game. DosBox might help, but there’s also a patch in Sierra Help Pages:

    1. Thanks for the info Ilmari. I'll see how I go without the patch and apply if necessary. After getting through Emmanuelle's speed challenges, I feel like I can do anything! ;)

    2. Lucas Arts made supreme games back then.

      I renember my very first PC-Game was TIE-Fighter, it's still one of my favorite Sci-Fi Games

  4. Haha, just realized that in two games we'll meet the still stubbornly AGI-based Manhunter 2, which judging from the screenshots doesn't look like it has changed much from the first game. Sure we criticize Indy's punching sequences now, but oh just you wait... :-)

    1. Do I sense a tinge of mocking laughter? ;)

    2. I seem to remember Manhunter 2 not being as good as the first one. Will have to wait and see how my memory is though

  5. Cool, glad you had fun playing it. I must say, I didn't enjoy the description as much; We all know the story, and since it is so similar to other Lucasarts games there didn't seem to be much to say.

    Are there any new companies coming up? Radical engine changes? What I find odd is that these would seem to be cheaper to make then a CRPG, yet we see a lot less diversity in companies then on Chet's blog. I wonder why that is?

    1. There's going to be more companies at the beginning of nineties (just to name few, Access Software with Tex Murphy-games, Adventure Soft with Simon the Sorcerer, Delphine Software with finally some decent French games, Legend and the relaunch of text adventures with graphics).

      The most radical engine change (if you don't count improvement in graphics and sounds) comes probably when Sierra changes to an icon-based point and click. Most other companies preferred to just copy Sierra or Lucasfilm -interfaces.

      As to your last question, I'd say making adventure game requires actually something more than just programming skills: you have to invent decent puzzle sequences, come up with a story, perhaps write some dialogue etc. CRPGs of the same era could in worst cases lack all dialogue, have only a remnant of a story etc. and in effect be just exercises in number crunching (this item with a generic name gives +7 bonus to that attribute). Furthermore, CRPGs could well recycle most of their graphics (one dungeon might look exactly identical to another), while in adventure games this was usually not possible and you had to make all places in the game look unique (mazes being the exception).

    2. I was thinking Microprose with games like Dragonsphere. Somewhere in the near future, I think the Kyrandia games make an introduction too.

    3. Ilmari: Yeah, I agree on the art. However, to make a good RPG you need a good understanding of math, and how rules will interact with one another, and then implement them. I'd say it is harder to do RIGHT, but easier to do badly if you just want to churn a game out.

      Also: I imagine there were a LOT less digital artists back then, though as Manhunter shows it was easy to throw something together in MacPaint or whatever and call it a day.

    4. The other thing to remember is that I'm only playing select adventure games, whereas Chet is playing ALL crpgs. If I was playing every single adventure game that came out, you'd be seeing a lot of different companies and engines. The majority of the games would be terrible though, and I'd still be stuck in about 1986.

    5. So what you are saying is that I need to put these caps to use more often? ;)

      That said, I haven't seen much on your list that you are skipping, and I thought your list started as rather comprehensive, then got filtered down unless we paid CAPS?

    6. Canageek: In 1980s most of the adventure games were still text adventures and/or never ported to DOS, so they wouldn't have ended up in Trick's list.

    7. Ilmari: I see, so it isn't that Trickster is skipping graphical RPGs, it is that only a few companies were making them in the 80s?

    8. That's at least part of the reason. Furthermore, the Wikipedia notable adventure games list doesn't cover all the adventure games there are, so there might be some minor graphical adventures (with less than 10 votes in Mobygames) that didn't make it even to the vote.

  6. Glad to see another game get checked off the list, and it's one you enjoyed more than the previous atrocity. Things have finally settled down at work for me (I hope you enjoyed your vacation, would be nice to take one), so starting this weekend I'll get back into playing and posting. I still need to get around to doing the posts for Hero's Quest I was planning when both you and Chet played through it.

  7. A fair score I think.

    As good as the EGA version is, the VGA is lovely. I'm sure it would have got an extra point for it.

    I guess the big shame is the amount they didn't include from the film. Admittedly the bits were mainly action sequences, but it did make the game seem like an attempt to cash in on the Indiana Jones franchise. I'm sure they could have removed a maze and instead had a part where you play Marcus evading Nazis and meeting Sallah, and of course they should have included Donovan drinking from the wrong cup.

    1. So that's what happens at the end of the movie. I really can't remember at all! Donovan's death in the game felt terribly contrived and unsatisfying, so I assumed something different must have occurred in the movie.

    2. Donovan followed Indy through the three trials and into the grail room (not sure how he knew to solve the Jehovah puzzle exactly, maybe he worked it out himself) and chose the grail first but he chose "poorly" by choosing a kingly golden looking cup and died like Indy does in the game.

      Indy chose wisely by choosing a cheap looking wooden cup.

    3. Indy's father was talking about the trials as Indy was facing them. So Donovan definitely heard him say "Jehovah" and the all important revelation that " Latin, 'Jehovah' begins with an 'I'!" I don't think Donovan started following Indy before this point (they show him stepping through the blades that Indy stopped with his whip), but I could be wrong.

  8. I will probably finish the game up this weekend. It has been fun, but the mazes are annoying.

  9. Since all the adventure games on the sidebar are old: Homesick by Lucky Pause: Already made its funding goal and everything.

  10. Dreamfall Chapters is on Kickstarter :)

  11. Wow...65! Not surprised; you seemed to enjoy this one quite a bit, mazes notwithstanding, and it has the typical well-constructed LucasArts puzzles. They don't seem perfect, but a) what is? and b) it didn't appear to dampen your enjoyment of this game.

    LSL 3 is a personal fave of mine, so I'm looking forward to seeing how you like it. I liked it better than 2, though not quite as much as 1 or 6. Thought it was leaps and bounds above 5. I echo Ilmari's concern about the timing issue. When I first played this game, that section was impassable, until I found a program called MoSlo. DOSBox made programs like that obsolete, though, as subsequent playthroughs of Larry 3 have had no problems whatsoever.

    Well, we're having the next "Storm of the Century" here in New England. Wish me luck, and hopefully I'll be able to read your next few postings!

  12. I vote for a movie-game comparison post. :-)

  13. Let's face it Marcus Brody didn't do much in the movie either. However he was played by the awesome Denholm Elliot, so his invclusion as comic relief was definitely not wasted. Don't know how you could incorporate him into the game. Also, did Salah (played by John Rhys Davies better known as Gimli) make an appearance in the game?

  14. I think I would have gone with "John Rhys Davies, better known as the incredible narrator of Quest for Glory IV." Not to mention his Wing Commander appearances!

    1. I said no camels! That's five camels! Can't you count?

    2. Yes, how come Salah was left out of the game? I also loved his appearance in Dune 2000 as a mentat. Alas, most people today will probably only recognize as Gimli the Dwarf or the voice of Treebeard.

      @Cush1978 haha!

    3. I will always remember Rhys-Davies as the King Richard in Robin of Sherwood (just imagine his booming voice shouting "I am the King of England").

    4. Just played Hero's Quest IV too, duh. Would have been much more appropriate. Still much bigger Lord of the Rings boffon than Hero's Quest fan (not that I don't love that too). I did think it best not to mention Sliders.

  15. Replies
    1. Drat, I need to find more sales to catch up!

  16. I've been away for the weekend on a boozy work trip to the Gold Coast. I should have the Larry III intro up in the next day or so.

  17. Wow, I have 10 whole points! The highest CAP amount I've ever had! :-D I guess I'm gonna keep on commentating.