And He's on the ST
BY ANDREWREESE START EDITOR
If you're an Indiana Jones fan - and who isn't - then you've probably already seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade six or seven times. It's the best of the three Indy movies that's come to your local theater and, thanks to Lucasfilm Games, it's also coming to your ST this summer. START visited Lucasfilm Games recently for an exclusive preview of their two new ST Indy games. We were impressed!
You hear just a few notes of the theme song and you know immediately what's coming: it's an Indiana Jones movie. Or in this case, an Indiana Jones game -or two Indiana Jones games! And the nice thing is that these games aren't just movie rip-offs; they're well-designed and eminently playable.
Lucasfilm Games recognizes that there are two different types of gamers and have tailored a different game for each: an arcade game for the joystick set and a graphic adventure for adventurers. By the time you read this, you should be able to find both of the games on your dealer's shelves. Just look for the distinctive marbled box and the word, "INDY." Only the ST and Amiga will have both games; other formats will see only one or the other.
Goin' To Movie Heaven
When START received an invitation to visit Lucasfilm Games in Mann County, California. We accepted immediately. It meant more than just a visit to George Lucas' incredible Skywalker Ranch; it also marked a new commitment by Lucasfllm Games to the development of ST products. And if you're familiar with their prior work, then you understand the significance of this.
Lucasfilm Games was founded in 1983. Among its early successes were Ballblazer and Rescue on Fractalus. the innovative and graphically striking 8-bit games. The first ST game to be released in the marbled Lucasfilm Games box was 1989's Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (reviewed in the July 1989 issue of START), followed by Battle-hawks 1942 (to be reviewed in the next issue).
Charging down a walkway aboard the Zeppelin,
Indiana Jones tries to reach the biplane carried
aboard the airship. This sequence also is a part of
both the Action and the Graphic Adventure Games.
In the movie "Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade," Indiana Jones finds
himself aboard a Zeppelin after escaping
from Castle Brunwald. In Indy, The Action
Game, Indiana must battle Nazi guards with
his fists and whip to escape.
As the rain falls outside Castle Brunwald, Indiana
Jones must use his whip to swing into the room where
his father is being held captive. "Indiana Jones and
the Last Crusade" may be the last Indiana Jones
movie, but Indy will live on in Lucasfllm Games' two
new Indy games long after the movie ends.
Skywalker Ranch is located in a rural area north of San Francisco. Its 300+ acres are dotted with meticulously recreated turn-of-the-century buildings, all of which fit into the setting perfectly - you'd swear they've been there since 1900. (Lucas has even constructed a history for the buildings the $10-million main house was built by a retired sea captain and the "winery" by one of his rebellious sons.)
But the buildings' interiors belie their antique exteriors. The weathered brick winery, for example, is the Technical Building, home of Sprocket Systems, Lucasfilm Ltd's state-of-the-art post-production and sound design facility. And if you're looking for Lucasfilm Games, why, it's in the Stable House, of course.
Action and Adventure
We were hosted in our visit by A.J. "Red" Redmer, Director of Software Development. Redmer joined Lucasfilm Games from Maxis, where he completed SkyChase, the notable head-to-head air combat game.
Our first look was at Indy, The Action Game. This game is designed for the arcade gamer and features three "scenes" based on the movie. In the first, you play the part of Indiana Jones as a Boy Scout, and try to wrest the Cross of Coronado from graverobbers. Your escape is along a circus train, pursued by the angry' graverobbers. If you escape, the second scene requires you to find your way out of the Venetian Catacombs without being burned up, eaten by rats or squashed by falling walls. Making your way out of the Catacombs takes you to Schloss Brunwald where you must climb across the face of the castle during a lightning storm that shakes the building.
For those persistent gamers, the third scene begins inside a Zeppelin, as you try to locate a biplane to make your escape, while battling Nazis and solving a ladder-type maze. The final portion of this scene takes place in the Temple of the Holy Grail where you must solve three tests to reach the Grail before your father dies. It's nonstop action and only for the strong-willed.
As of this writing, plans are to let gamers begin the game in either of the first two scenes or continue the game from the last point of play. You'd better be good and you'd better be quick in this game, because it's no place for the cautious! Just be sure you don't lose your head.
Indy, The Action Game parallels the plot
of the movie "Indiana Jones and the Last
Crusade" and begins with a scene of Indiana
Jones as a young Boy Scout battling
graverobbers for the Cross of Coronado.
Indy, The Action Game has good graphics,
smooth gameplay and, of course, the
Indiana Jones theme.
Parts of Indy, The Action Game reminded us of the 8-bit game Zarro with its use of a whip and the need for impeccable timing to make it through. The 16-by-16 pixel character graphics are quite nice and the music is, naturally, the Indiana Jones theme. Copy protection is off-disk, based upon a heiroglyph table that accompanies the game. Indy, The Action Game should provide arcade fanatics with many nice, long and challenging play sessions. It's planned for a June release on the ST.
SCUMMy Animated Adventures
Lucasfilm Games is one of the leaders in the development of animated graphics adventures, thanks in no small measure to SCUMM, their proprietary "Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion." Now in its fourth version, SCUMM is an integrated system for creating adventure game scripts that control all elements of a graphic adventure. SCUMM is a hybrid language that was developed in-house at Lucasfilm Games. It follows a C-like structure, but allows multi-tasking, i.e. multiple parallel scripts to follow the actions of more than one character and to provide several different methods to solve the game.
Indy, The Graphic Adventure Game was created with SCUMM (and several of its strangely named sub-systems) to follow the basic plot of the movie. But where most movie-based games typically fall short by aping the movie plot too closely, Indy is based on a concept of "out-Indying Indy." You can get through the game by following the plot of the movie, but your results will differ depending on your cleverness, your "Indy quotient." And this game lets you choose your own style of adventure as you go along.
"There are three parallel paths in lndy," says Red, "You can use the mouse point-and-click method as in Zak, but you can also choose to fight your way through the game or talk your way through it. I think that it will allow the player to customize the game experience to one that suits him or her best."
In fact, you can switch among these methods as the need (or your mood) seems to call for. For example, to escape from Castle Brunwald, you can escape on the ground and try to talk your way past the guards, steal a biplane and fly out (while fighting enemy planes) or ride out on a Zeppelin by using the point-and-click method. You can even choose to steal the Zeppelin's on-board biplane and switch into the action mode, but first you must solve several puzzles and negotiate a maze. If you run into a guard, you can then try to talk your way out or fight. There's a nice zoom technique into the fight sequences and the fights are well animated. It's your choice how you want to play the game.
Indy, the Graphic Adventure Game also
parallels Steven Spielberg and George
Lucas' movie, but adds alternatives unavailable
to the movie Indy. In Schloss Brunwald, Indiana
Jones must solve several puzzles, including two
which revolve around this kitchen scene. A clue:
dogs love a nice piece of beef.
Sean Connery plays the part of Dr. Henry Jones,
Indiana Jones' archeologist father, in the movie
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." The relationship
that is developed between the Joneses is carried on in
the new Lucasfilm games.
In the movie " Indiana Jones and the
Last Crusade," Indiana Jones and his
father pass through this airport to catch
a ride on the Zeppelin. In Indy, The
Graphic Adventure Game, things aren't
quite as easy as Harrison Ford and Sean
Connery find it. You might want to
''borrow" this gentleman's tickets.
Indeed, Red expects that reviews of Indy will vary widely. "Each reviewer will see virtually a different game, depending upon the choices he or she makes along the way. All of the dialogue is linked throughout the game, so that if you've spoken to someone near the start, the characters will respond differently in dialogue and actions later on."
just movie rip-offs.
The graphics have been much improved since Lucasfilm Games' earlier efforts. Where Zak McKracken was created with SCUMM version 2.0 with a resolution of 160-by-200 pixels and character-based graphics, Indy is being created with SCUMM version 3.0. Its resolution is 320-by-200 pixels with pixel-based graphics, Z-clipping and smooth animation, both in the characters and backgrounds. The difference is noticeable. Says Red, "We've left the Commodore 64 world behind. Gone is what we call the 'Zak walk.'"
Indy, The Graphic Adventure Game will come with a Grail Diary that's necessary to solving many of the puzzles in the game. Lucasfilm Games has even turned the off-disk copy protection scheme into part of the game by creating integral puzzles that must be solved with the aid of the Grail Diary.
All in all, Indy, The Graphic Adventure Game is an ambitious undertaking and one that looks like it will raise graphics adventure game standards to a new level. It's due out in its ST version in early fall. And Lucasfilm Games promises that this will not be the last new adventure to come out on the ST. They've already announced a new fantasy adventure called Loom and promise two more new titles on the ST before Christmas. With the care they've shown on Indy, they should be winners. Watch for them at your local theater. I mean software dealer.
By the way, you just can't beat up some of the guards in lndy. If you run into one of the big brutes in the Castle, try getting him drunk. Just remember that a guy that big takes a lot more than a stein of beer to put him on the floor.
Indy, The Action Game, $39.95, and Indy, The Graphic Adventure
Game, $49.95. Lucasfilm Ltd., P.O. Box 2009, San Rafael, CA 9491 2,
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