Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, the latest spanky film spin-off from US Gold has just made it to the Spectrum. So, with popcorn in one hand and joystick in the other, David Wilson battles his way across the office, deviously rolls under his desk, nippily parks himself in front of the Spectrum and plunges headfirst into the game.
You've seen the movie, read the book, worn the T-shirt - but have you played the computer game yet!? Nope? Well I have, so ner. And is US Gold's conversion of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade a corker or what!? Better than the film I reckon! Okay, okay, so the film was a goodie. And I'll admit that I gasped as Indy leapt heroically from rope to rope over gaping chasms! Thrilled as he ran along a speeding train full of dangerous circus animals! And grimaced (quite a lot in fact!) when he leapt over rotating, razor-sharp blades in the entrance to the temple of the Grail! But Blimey O'Riley, that's nothing to what I did when I saw the computer game. (He swooned actually! Ed) Hem, hem. Anyway, wanna know what it's like?
You bet your last Rolo you do! Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade is a four level, horizontally/vertically scrolling arcade adventure. And it's boss! The game actually follows the plot of the film ties closely (which isn't surprising really since US Gold designed it around the original movie storyboards) and your goal, just like in the film, is to discover the Holy Grail. But, of course, before you can actually find the Grail, you'll need to first secure several helpful items. These include the Cross of Coronado (actually, of no use to you at all as far as the Grail is concerned, but still fun to find!), the shield (which belonged to a crusader who first discovered the Grail and bears inscriptions relating to its whereabouts) and the diary (which belongs to Indy's Dad - a bit of a Grail expert - but was nicked by the Nazis.) This contains the remaining clues.
Right, that's the storyline, so what does it actually look like? Well, at last Indy gets the sort of respectful treatment that Batman got in The Caped Crusader (except that Indy seems to have a bit of a limp!). It has large sprites with lots of detail and the animation is slick. The graphics are good despite being in monochrome! There is a slight problem though with the collision detection, which can be a shade ropey. This makes punching or whipping baddies a tricky task since if you touch them you're wasted.
The 128K version touts a Spectrum version of the famous theme tune on the menu screen, and the usual sound effects during gameplay. The latter is all that 48K owners hear, I'm afraid, but since the Speccy mix of the theme isn't quite the stirring orchestral version, you shouldn't be too put off by this! The control system is the normal up/down/ left/right/fire, but changes for the very last level (See Holy Grail), Gameplay is very good. The smooth scrolling and neat animation help everything to progress at an enjoyable pace. The level of difficulty is pitched at just about the right notch too, requiring a bit of thought and skillful joystick juggling. There are four main levels, but in fact the first is in two parts and there's a sub game for entry to the second level!
And that, in a nutshell, is that. A great game and well worthy of being made a Megagame. Tiertex, the programming house behind this little gem, has obviously spent a lot of time thinking of devilish traps and tricky bits of maze. All in all, a very slick conversion, with nice graphics and animation, and great gameplay! My only gripes seem to be the collision detection, and the slightly unrealistic things like the disappearing passbooks and the whip that's only good for five 'cracks'! Still, get used to these, and you'll find Indy every bit as enthralling as the movie!
Good graphics, puzzling mazes and skillful joystick juggling, all pitched at the right level of difficulty.
Tread carefully now as we explore the four levels of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
1. Somewhere in Colorado First off, Indy has to retrieve the Cross of Coronado. It's hidden in this system of caves under the Colorado desert. Indy has to find his way to the Cross, jumping across chasms, shinning up and down ropes, whipping guards (literally!) and generally finding his way about in the gloom of the caverns. You start out with a trusty torch, but... oh-oh, Chungo!... this soon burns out. As it does, the screen colour changes to gradually darker hues! Best to collect another torch el pronto! You can also grab a trusty whip, but for some reason you can only use it five times! There are also those crumbly bridges that disintegrate as you cross them! Keeping up a brisk pace will see you safely across, but don't try it again 'cos it ain't there!! The whole cave system is cleverly interlinked so that it you should fall down one of these chasms and survive you can end up back near the start. Hurrah! There's the artefact! The Cross of Coronado, if I'm not much mistaken. A lovely 16th century piece given to the Coronado by Hernando Cortex in 1520 I believe. Righty-ho, time to find your way out. Ah me! Back into the daylight again. Bit spooky those caves. Eeek! No time for a well earned rest, those baddies from the cave are hot on my heels! Perhaps I can give 'em the slip by hopping on top of this...2. Moving Circus TrainRunning the length of this Chatanooga Choo is no mean feat in itself, but when you throw in an irate herd of rhinos who keep poking their horns through the roof, a giraffe's head and an Inca chappie who throws sticks at you then you know we're talking tricky with a capital 'T'! Aaah, I lurve wild animals, where's Skippy the Bush Kangaroo? Stop! No time for sightseeing on this trip, unless you want a rhino's horn up your botty! Rather weirdly, you still need your torch in this bit. Rather impractical on the back of a speeding train, and in broad daylight too(!), but it adds a time element, I s'pose. Finish this bit and you step off the train at...3. Castle Grunwald, AustriaHmm, this level is called The Ascent into Castle Grunwald, and that's where it's based... the not-so-lovely Castle Grunwald in Austria! (This is where the Nazis held Indys dad in the movie.) But what's this? There are several doors in front of me with spooky hieroglyphics over them. Also the computer has given me a date! ( Well alright, but I never take off my peripherals on a first date. Ed) Not that sort of date! But perhaps this is a clue! Yes, US Gold has enclosed a spooky hieroglyphics decoder chart. The symbols that match the date randomly displayed must indicate the correct door! If you get this bit wrong, then the shield you're searching for won't be there! Right through the door and now we're...4. Wandering About The CastleIt's a bit bloomin' damp, isn't it? For the sake of gameplay, the Venetian crypts from the movie are stuffed into the basement of the Austrian castle. Cor, it really is 'a small world' in this game, chumlets! Watch out for the rats... uurrgh! Oh, and the energy zapping drops of water! But hold on... if we're going into the castle's crypts, how come this level is called The Ascent Of Castle Grunwald? Yup, that's right, you've got to get the shield, then hoof it back up and out again! Ooh no missus! Since you're poking about downstairs in the castle, you're also going to need to keep getting fresh lanterns, so keep yer eyes peeled! Got the shield yet? Good, now it's off to the airport and time for you to get...5. On Board The ZeppelinUp up and awa-yay, in my beau-ti-ful airship! Indy is now on a German Zeppelin looking for his Dad's diary. Judging by the way this whole screen is drifting up and down, I'd say we were mid-flight. Oooooh! I feel quite queasy! Still, this holds the final clues that are in Indy's Dad's diary, so grab a couple of tummy settling barley sugars and press on! Instead of lanterns here, Indy collects passbooks to help him with the guards. However, they (rather inexplicably) disintegrate as time passes giving you a time limit for finding the diary. If they disappear completely, then all the guards move about in double time, making your task double tricky!! Hurrah, what's Indy got? He's got the lot. (Except for the...)6. Holy GrailRight, you've got the Cross (well, you can bung it away now 'cos it's not needed!), you've got the diary and you've got the shield! Now for the big one! The Holy Grail! In true Indy style, the temple in which it resides is fraught with vicous head-lopping (and other bit-lopping!) blades and things! Tread carefully! Also, the control system alters slightly here 'cos your viewpoint has changed to give a 3D perspective. Here you move left and right, forwards and backwards, and use the fire button to jump. Skillful joystick work is required as you leap onto a ledge swept by a rotating blade, then immediately jump off again, up, forward and slightly to one side to fling yourself through a doorway! Challenging, I'm sure you'll agree!