Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Cover
Platforms Steam, Amiga, DOS, Macintosh
Genre Point and click "adventure"
MtAMinutes to Action 6
Keep Playing? No

For being a rather popular film series, there sure haven’t been a lot of Indiana Jones video games released. Well, there have, but not in recent memory, the LEGO Indiana Jones I played a few years ago is pretty much it besides a few unheralded titles here and there. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released in 1989, that’s how far back we’re traveling today for a first hour review.

Developed by Lucasarts using their SCUMM adventure game engine, Last Crusade seemed like a slam dunk of a title to coincide with the release of the movie, especially as it had Ron Gilbert of pre-Monkey Island fame leading the development team. Indiana Jones wouldn’t be the first movie tie-in game ever, but it would probably be the first to follow the story so closely and carefully.

I’m making my way through my Steam backlog now, and I wanted to play a bunch of early Lucasarts titles since I’m a big Monkey Island fan and I seem to owe it to myself to play their other games. Last Crusade is essentially the oldest one available (Steam does not carry Maniac Mansion or Zac McKracken), so I’m starting here. I’m not sure if I’ll first hour their entire catalog, but here’s the review of the first hour of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Minute by Minute

00 - The classic Indiana Jones music, 8-bit style, kicks off right as the game begins. Young Indy is seen hopping from train car to train car as the creators are credited on the train cars. I think I could probably escape out of this but it’s pretty entertaining. Lots of recognizable names from this era of gaming.

01 - The game switches over to Barnett College, New York, 1938. Indy walks into the school soaking wet and speaks with his old friend Marcus. He’s got the Cross of Coronado! Is that in the movie?

03 - After a-not-very enthralling conversation Indy walks into the school’s gym locker room and changes into his brown suit.

04 - Being the classic Lucasarts game it is, there are 16 verbs laid out across the bottom of the screen, and you have to tediously click first on the verb, and then on the object on the top two-thirds of the screen.

05 - I walk back into the locker room and Indy changes into some gym shorts and white shirt, then he climbs into the ring with a solo boxer. He asks me what level of challenge I would like... “Go easy on me”, I suppose.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Title Screen

06 - Ummm... how do I punch this guy?

08 - I’ve literally tried every key, as far as I can tell. Guess I’ll just wait for him to knock me out. Fighting seems a bit confusing even without knowing how to hit, there’s punch power meters and two different health meters. Weird.

09 - I finally climb out of the ring and head into the school’s hallway.

10 - Indy and I click on the first door we come across and he walks up to it... and nothing happens. I have to “Open” the door. Looks like it’s his classroom, it’s absolutely packed with students who have been waiting for me to sign off on their papers or something.

11 - I really wish there was voice acting, spoiled by the Monkey Island Special Editions.

12 - I leave the room and it takes me about 10 clicks to land my cursor properly on Marcus to talk to him. Game has some hit box issues or something, might be because it’s twenty years old and I’m playing it on modern hardware. Marcus blandly tells me about some new professor, Indy has various levels of sarcastic responses at his disposal.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Fighting

14 - Leaving the school has Indy immediately accosted by two brutes who drag him off to see Walter Donovan, I think this is the guy who wants the Holy Grail.

17 - I’m pretty sure these conversations are almost ripped straight from the movie, I suppose you get bonus points for picking Indiana’s film response.

19 - So I need to head to Italy, that’s about as much as I picked up from that short kidnapping affair, well, that and my father is missing. Back at the school, I now have a “Travel” verb available to me. I can either go straight to Venice, or check out Henry’s place (aka Sean Connery, aka Indy’s dad).

20 - Suppose we should check in with dad’s place, see if there’s any important mail. Oh my, it’s been ransacked! Probably in the movie, it’s been years since I’ve seen it.

22 - Tons of nouns to click on in here, lots of pixel hunting to see what is interactable. It’s pretty hard to tell what can be verbed on as just running your mouse over an object does nothing special, you have to click on it first.

25 - All right, found nothing in my searches, though I’m sure there is something of some value. Off to Venice!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Venice

26 - The game pulls off the classic Indy traveling seem decently well for the technology available. Indy is meeting Walter at a cafe, and we’re on the lookout for Dr. Schneider. A blonde bombshell shows up (who I’m pretty sure is a Nazi) and leads me to the library.

28 - Well, I definitely remember the librarian stamping books in the movie. Here he is, and just as annoying with small sound effects.

30 - Off to explore the library, I remember in the movie Indy smashed a floor tile with one of those rope holding thingers.

32 - Ah, the game calls them metal posts, that would make sense. I now have a metal post in my possession! I also picked up the red cordon, which I guess is the rope thing. And of course, Indy is holding his whip, too!

33 - All right, this library is huge! There are 12 screens: the entryway, 6 screens with just books on them, and five screens with 9 roman numerals on the floor each. So... ah... which floor tile do I smash again?

34 - I try to smash the closest tile and Indy says that probably isn’t a good idea since he doesn’t know which one is right (duh). “If only I had dad’s notes!” Oh geez, are you serious? Where are dad’s notes?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Venice Library

35 - Haha, I walk out to the plaza and Travel back to the United States! How convenient! Okay, dad’s notes are probably at Henry’s Place, right? Like I said, there has to be something important in this mess.

37 - Oh, I might be on to something. The only untouched piece of furniture in this whole place is a desk near the door. Under a table cloth which was under a plant, is a locked drawer... Where’s the key?

39 - Okay, another annoying thing! I didn’t use the right verb earlier on one of the objects. I had to “Pull” on a bookcase to knock it over. Ugh. “Looking” at it, Indy doesn’t see anything special. But a few of the pixels are whitish.

40 - Ridiculous, had to “Pick up” some sitcky tape on very precise pixels. This is why the adventure game genre is pretty much dead.

42 - Well, I’ve got sticky tape, now what?

48 - Think I tried everything with the sticky tape, nothing working. Guess I’ll... go to the school again?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Classroom

52 - Oh! You can walk through the crowd of students to get to Indy’s office! Interesting stuff in here, lots of artifacts and winks to other games. Including a Sam and Max totem pole! Was this game out? Was it even close to being out? This is a bit odd.

53 - An incredible amount of stuff to interact with isn’t always the best thing, so many combinations of things to try with the items I have, particularly the sticky tape.

55 - A jar of solvent has dissolved the tape and revealed... a key! What the? Sometimes you don’t ask questions. Indy has to crawl out his window to avoid the kids outside his office.

56 - Back to Henry’s Place with the key, got an old book!

57 - WHAT?! When looking at the book, Indy says this was a book he made as a kid to “look” like his father’s grail diary. That is absolutely ridiculous.

60 - Yeah, I’m still just sort of staring at the screen. I guess I could have gone back for more searching at Indy’s office, but I’ve pretty much made up my mind now.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Office

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 6

Well, that was a bit painful. I haven’t played a ton of adventure games here at the First Hour, but the success rate is rather low. Curse of Monkey Island went well, but my foray into Star Trek: The Next Generate - Final Unity went pretty bad. And yes, if you’re skipping ahead, Last Crusade also went pretty bad.

I don’t think the fault is entirely on the game, either. Gamers have changed, expectations have changed. We really don’t expect games like this to have “missable” objects that force us to unexpectedly backtrack. If I couldn’t return from Venice to the United States, I would have been pretty screwed in getting the Grail diary (which I never did get, as it is).

We also expect a more streamlined gaming experience. Being offered 16 different verbs that can interact with possibly dozens of objects on the screen in hundreds of different ways can make gaming into a chore. No one likes checking every object in their inventory against every object on screen, that’s just gross gaming.

And unfortunately, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade suffers from these issues, and while I understand the game was made in an entirely different era, I can still pass judgment on whether I would keep playing...

Would I Keep Playing? No, there are just too many hurdles to cross and too little fun to be had. Twenty years ago I probably would have spent hours on this game figuring everything out, but that was then, and this is now.

Also, I still don’t know how to fight.