Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures

Posted by Tom Lenting.
First posted on 01 February 2007. Last updated on 07 September 2009.
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Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures
Indy must foil the evil plans of the Third Reich, again!
Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures
The game uses an overhead isometric view.
Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures
The Nazis are among many of the enemies faced by Indy.
Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures
A new map is randomly generated each time the game is played.

Following the track of success laid down by Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, LucasArts has decided to give its intrepid hero Indy his own run as a "desktop adventure" as well. Despite its Indiana Jones license, however, Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures cannot be compared to other games from the series. This is because it plays more like an average desktop gadget than a real point and click adventure.

Although it is only a mini game, fans may instantly find it hard to reconcile the dated look and play of this desktop adventure, knowing that the game is released 4 years after the last title in the Indiana Jones series. True to its name, the game runs entirely within a small window on the computer desktop and uses an overhead isometric view. It is clear that the playing area is divided into many invisible squares, within which Indy can move from square to square (but without any animation in between). This style of play is very similar to that in many adventure games on the consoles of yesteryears, such as Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series. Alas, it may be more appropriate to compare this desktop adventure to other desktop games in Windows (for example, Mines and Solitaire), notwithstanding its Indiana Jones license.

Each game in Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures is designed to play for only about half an hour to an hour. To start each game, the player chooses to randomly create a small, medium or large world in which randomly generated quests have to be solved. The beginning of every game is always the same—you start off at the village and inside a building where, for most of the time, Marcus Brody tells you about a quest and asks you to acquire an artifact to be returned to him. Also, Indy's whip and a first aid kit are always found at the same place at the start of every game, which make me wonder why these objects are not added as standard inventory items in the first place. In truth, I cannot call any of the "puzzles" in this game real "puzzles". Most of these puzzles or quests consist merely of collecting objects, giving them to some characters so to acquire other objects, which are then given yet to other characters, and so on. Much of the time is lost searching for the right characters for the right objects, both of which are randomly scattered over the map. All these tasks ultimately translate to a lot of tiresome walking within the game world.

Indy can be controlled with either the mouse or the keyboard, but a combination of both is best. The arrow keys are used to move Indy and the mouse is used to manipulate items from your inventory. These controls are adequate except when there is a need to use a weapon. The game is crowded with all kind of enemies that can attack Indy—Nazis, natives, snakes, scorpions, lions, and others. You are able to attack these enemies with your whip or other weapons lying around (for example, a dagger). Yet, the controls for the attack are too loose, making it nearly impossible to hit an enemy directly at once. The sound in this game is rather limited—just some screams and yells by the enemies alike.

The central problem in Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures is its monotonous gameplay. The game package proudly proclaims, "There are a whole lot of different games to play because with each game the map regenerates to give you a whole new experience." It is true that the map changes every time the game is played, but the rest of the world does not differ much between each play. Notwithstanding the fact that the beginning of each game is always the same, every map looks very much alike. Each map is more or less made up of patches of identical bushes and deserts, inhabited with generic characters, all of which can quickly become tedious when you have played it a few times. By then, you probably also have seen every possible variant of quests generated by the game, since they do not differ too much from each other.

To be honest, I do not like Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures much. It is an uninspired addition to the Indiana Jones series and does not in any way live up to the reputation that other games in this venerable series have earned. The only element in common between this and other games in the series is the Indiana Jones license. Even when compared to the desktop games in Windows, I feel this game is too short-lived mainly due to its lack of variety.

Perhaps Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures has started out as a sound idea—to make an Indiana Jones game for the causal gamer who can pick it up quickly and play it for a relaxing moment. As a freeware game, it is perhaps worthy of a quick look. As a commercial game, however, it fails in too many aspects, even as a desktop game. In the end, it is an adventure that is too quickly forgotten, with or without Indy.

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