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Game: ‘Indiana Jones and the Fate Of Atlantis' (1992) Dev. LucasArts

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, LucasArts, Hal Barwood, Noah Falstein, Shelley Day, Clint Bajakian, Michael Land, SCUMM

Straight from an original idea, many saw this adventure of Indiana Jones worthy to be a feature film, with it's authentic look, feel and gameplay that let you become the man in the hat...

Acting as a sequel to the 1989 game ‘Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure’, many of the Lucasfilm Games (later rebranded and renamed LucasArts in 1990) team were working on upcoming projects such as ‘The Secret Of Monkey Island’ and early concept design for ‘The Dig’.


It fell to seasoned scriptwriter, film director and computer game designer Hal Barwood to lead the project, for his ability to blend both mediums of gaming and film into one single output such as Indiana Jones. The scale of this sequel would be bigger and more daring than what had come before, with new technology and updated engines in use to give gamers more control and immersion as Indiana Jones than ever. Barwood brought in Lucasfilm Games writer and designer Noah Falstien, artist Willaim Eaken and composers Clint Bajakian and Michael Land to work on various aspects of the game and bring their elements together.

Barwood and Falstien went through numerous ideas, even contemplating discarded movie scripts for ‘The Last Crusade’ but decided for an original idea. Stories were discussed about Indy searching for Excalibur, the Fountain Of Youth and the lost city of Atlantis.

It was decided that Atlantis would work best, giving Indy a good reason for his trademark globe-trotting and investigations into myth and lore of the past.


The villains would be in the shape of the nefarious Nazi army on the rise, and action would take place on foot, on sea, in the air and across many varied terrains for a real sense of global adventure.


Never straying far from the threads that had made the feature films of the 1980s such a success, ‘The Fate Of Atlantis’ was released on Amiga and MS-DOS from June 1992 and once again shaped both graphic adventures and major movie adaptations that presented something never before seen to gamers who wanted to experience the thrills and excitement of a beloved hero and BE that hero, not just imagine it.


Gameplay

You don the leather jacket, the fedora, take up the Colt pistol and bullwhip and prepare for adventure as Indiana Jones, famed University professor and archaeologist. Set during 1939, the eve of World War II, Indy and his on/off romantic interest, psychic and paranormal guru Sophia Hapgood, are drawn into a race against time to save the world from the Nazis intent on conquering the world.


The two discover that the Nazis are searching for a rare metal called orichalcum, a material not seen or heard about since the early days of Plato and the myth of the lost city of Atlantis. Sophia learns that much of what she has researched about Atlantis and old Atlantean God Nur-Ab-Sal will benefit the two as they know that if the Nazis find the source the orichalcum first, and in doing so find the city of Atlantis, then they will use the powerful metal to fuel war machines and be unstoppable.

Searching for those who can help direct the pair in a journey written thousands of years ago is no easy feat, and they travel from America to Europe, to Africa and lost islands in the Pacific Ocean in the process. With the Nazis closing in fast, Indy and Sophia must use brains and brawn to find the clues, unravel the mystery surrounding Atlantis and discover the secrets within before it is too late!

There is no question this is a game, and story, taken from the heart of what George Lucas and Steven Spielberg wanted for Indiana Jones – globetrotting adventures for a family audience, full of action, drama, mystery, humour and wonder. The collective team as Lucasfilm Games have presented just that in a fully immersive and thought-provoking narrative set in both the real world and also the myth and lore of the past.

Now, as all solid graphic adventures follow a set path, offering small variations on dialogue and interactions along the way, ‘The Fate Of Atlantis’ does one better. Not content with the single story thread, it was fellow writer Falstein who implemented one one, not two, but three paths for players to opt for at a crux in the story. Before Indy and Sophia embark on the globe-trotting adventure, a wonderful question is asked of you as Indy; what path does he want to take?

The question is asked in conversation with Sophia, and you as Indy choose one of three replies that changes the narrative structure. You can choose to work with Sophia and be a team using combined knowledge, you can choose to fight the bad guys alone using a more combat driven solo path or you can opt to think your way through in a series of more complex puzzles and mysteries, again as a solo route. Whether you go it alone or go with Sophia, you may or may not visit the same locations and may or may not interact with the same characters – it’s up to you to discover these new strands of the story in whichever route you take and experience them for yourself.


Teamwork with Sophia is great fun, with their shared conversations and thoughts coming across just like Indy and Marion Ravenwood in ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’. Going solo in action means you must fist-fight more enemies trying to stop you, and the action is more present than the puzzles, but so too is the danger of losing the game if you’re beaten! A solo strategy path removes the action thread but cranks up the puzzles, really pushing you to think and tackle challenges alone.

What is nice however, is at a stage before the third and final act, all the paths converge into one, so no matter what route you take, you’ll still end up where you need to be with what you need and who you need to have met, so the final stretch doesn’t change.

‘The Fate Of Atlantis’ is the seventh game from Lucasfilm Games / LucasArts to use an updated SCUMM engine, developed by Ron Gilbert. SCUMM stands for Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, (Maniac Mansion being a classic 1987 point-and-click adventure that was the debut for said SCUMM). This engine presents a very simple point-and-click interface. With a series of verb commands such as ‘Talk’, ‘Use’, ‘Open’ and ‘Look’, you just point and click with your mouse where you want Indy to walk to, or what you want him to interact with, and it will happen. No text typing commands here. Simplicity is what makes this game so user-friendly, and it is such a simple game to play for new and old gamers. The dialogue is in both text-form which you read (in numerous colours for each character), or full on “talkie” with voice acting; a joy to experience.

When you converse with characters, you’re presented with numerous lines of dialogue to choose from. At least one or two of these advance the conversation, progresses you and gets what you need. A few others are simply there to add some lore and humour to, letting you decide just how to be around these characters and what sort of mood you want to create. Indy can get right the point; you can make him be smart and full of knowledge, or blunt and wise-cracking... whatever options are there, explore them all and see where they get you and what others respond with.

For an action/adventure hero as popular as Indiana Jones, this is a perfect and gorgeous looking game that offers a whole range of difficulties for new and old gamers to get stuck into, never forcing you into a dead end and warning you way in advance of any dangerous moments that you may encounter. It’s the next best thing to watching one of the films.


Graphics

The pixel revolution of gaming was in full swing, with evidence seen in ‘The Secret Of Monkey Island’ and ‘Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’ that pixel 2D graphics were nothing but charming and evident of the passion and skill of the production team that brought these sprites to life. Lead artist William Ekane and his team combined hand-drawn imagery for backdrops and landscape shots with the basic 256-colour templates that brought many locations in the game to life. And to add more depth and feel to the characters of Indy and sidekick Sophia, rather than just 2D pixels, they were rotoscoped for their animations to give a much more realistic look and feel to them.

The game was already ahead in terms of look and style compared to ‘Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’ that came out in 1991. With so much of the game set in the real world and real life locations, the art and graphics had to reflect both this and the 1930s era the story was set in, and also blend imagery and graphics akin to that of Atlantean myth and Minoan culture discovered through the ages. This removed any aspect of a more cartoonish style of graphic adventure and rooted it in very earth colours and real-life tones, with accurate depictions of people, vehicles, buildings and places, be them U-boats, hidden Greek catacombs or busy Monte Carlo streets.

Either way, wherever you are in the game, the graphics, colours and animations that surround you transport you directly there and the attention to detail is second to none and just like that seen in the films.


Sound and music

While there is no real use of diegetic sound, it is the score that helps create the atmosphere and feel for surroundings and locations. Sound is used now and then to highlight actions such as fist fighting, gun-shots, opening of secret doors and various other small elements.

American composers Clint Bajakian, Peter McConnell and Michael Land (of ‘Monkey Island’ fame) reworked and rearranged the iconic ‘Raiders March’ from John Williams to use across the game in various fanfares; if you carry out a small action that warrants a blast of the theme, you get it. And bar the opening titles, it is used sparingly much like in the movies.

The score represents the various locations, from North Africa to Europe, North America and secret lairs of the Nazi enemy, Bajakian leads a very capable team in creating music that is equally atmospheric as it is exciting as you explore, investigate and often fight to escape. A standout part of LucasArts gaming is the immersive score, and with such an iconic score being laid out by John Williams for the feature films, this adventure game fits right in beside it.

For the talkie version of the game, which came out just one year later following the basic floppy disc non-talkie edition, the cast came from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists as to be often unknown, and able to put their stamp on new and old characters to the franchise. Actor Doug Lee took the role of Indiana Jones, due to Harrison Ford not being able to record, and is a worthy substitute with the right balance of dry humour and passion for his work. Other cast members include Jane Jacobs as Sophia Hapgood, Denny Delk as Omar Al-Jabbar and Nick Jameson as evil Dr Hans Ubermann. Each has a wonderful spin on their own character, adding the required international dialect when needed and also working perfectly alongside Lee’s Indy.


Summary

Beloved by graphic adventure fans and critics of both gaming and the Indiana Jones film franchise, ‘The Fate Of Atlantis’ has constantly been talked about as the perfect story to adapt into a cinematic adventure for Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg to present as a canon sequel. It has pretty much everything that works about the movies, from the humour to the character dialogue, to the mythical and often fantastical elements that push the plot forward, and some well executed action and adventure sequences on land, sea and air requiring brains as well as brawn.

It’s this mix of styles that makes for such an entertaining game, and one that is nothing but faithful to the source material of the franchise it is rooted in.

Stellar voice work, immersive music and locations, complex but rewarding puzzles and the ability to choose your path out of three really does add replay value and experimentation like no other game of the time. A very solid graphic adventure that is testament to the team at LucasArts for once again understanding and respecting the gamer and the game itself.



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