The sacred Sankara Stone that protects a remote Indian village is stolen and all the village children disappear. That's no bad thing, you might think - but Indiana Jones has other ideas in this licence of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas's massively successful 1984 film and the Atari coin-op, hereinafter referred to as IJATTOD.
Nine hapless babes have been imprisoned and forced to dig for precious stones beneath the evil Pankot Palace by the thuggee death cult. In the caverns, ladders connect levels and narrow walkways lead to distant sections. Here Indy encounters a myriad of dangers which can take out one of his five lives - a kiss from a snake kills, thuggee cultists and their masters can beat Indy into oblivion or destroy him with a well-aimed shot.
But our hero (played by Harrison Ford in the movie) is never a piece of easy meat. Wielding his faithful bullwhip, he can temporarily stun an attacking thug, slash a serpent and crack away the locks on the children's cell doors.
When all nine little darlings have been rescued, Indy can reach a tunnel that takes him deep into the earth. Again he must defeat the thuggee guards, as well as giant and flitting bats. Missing rails and jumps can cause a derailment as Jones rides downward in a mine car that isn't even up to British Rail standards.
If Indiana survives this hair-raising excursion he finds himself in the Temple Of Doom, where the Sankara Stone is placed resplendent with deadliness before Kali, the four-armed goddess of death. Jones must take the stone and escape with it, deeper into the mine's dark caverns where he has to recover another three stones and escape across an insubstantial rope bridge - just as in the film.
Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: large, mainly monochromatic and slightly jerky
Sound: no tune, reasonable FX
'IJATTOD is essentially dull, like the arcade original. I can understand some people enjoying its simplicity, but that's half the reason I don't like it. The graphics are poor, with the score line difficult to read and the playing area unattractive. The odds are stacked against the player, even more than in a normal game - the thug guards have roughly the same amount of kill power as you, but there are millions more of them, which makes it just a teensy bit tougher.'
MIKE ... 52%
'The people responsible for the game plan have got one thing essentially wrong: Indiana Jones is hard, y'know, mean 'n' butch 'n' muscular (he is, after all, played by Harrison Ford), so it's pretty unlikely that anyone he hits with his megadeath-dealing whip is going to get up again, isn't it? It's incredibly frustrating having to nudge a thug guard off a cliff to kill him - whatever happened to violence in computer games? IJATTOD is good fun for a while, but I wouldn't recommend it strongly.'
BEN ... 67%
'The great colour and graphics of the arcade game cover up the actual gameplay, but with the spectrum - conversion the gameplay is the first thing you notice. And it's not impressive - the first level can become frustrating if you're not quick enough with the whip. IJATTOD is OK, not the sort of thing to rush out and buy but certainly worth trying your hand at.'
RICKY ... 76%
I'm afraid you'll have to leave your sub-machine guns, photon torpedoes and lasers outside, 'cos your only weapon is a whip! Your mission as Indiana Jones, is to free Mayapore's children from enslavement in the mines beneath Pankot Palace, and find the three Sankara stones.
Indiana Jones, the game of the coin-op of the film, loads in three parts, each of which is subdivided into three levels. Level one has you running round a platforms and ladders game, beating the hell out of the resident Thuggee guards and rescuing the kiddies.
Then, without even time to straighten your hat, you leap into a runaway mine car. Pursued by yet more of those dastardly Thuggees (just who's responsible for these daft names?) you must ride to the Temple of Doom where you'll find one of those stones you were after. Do all this three times, and you're awarded a bonus level.
Graphics are hardly inspiring, with some very dubious animation in places. The programmers have taken the easy way out and done the whole thing in glorious monochrome, so it's a bit flat.
Although there are s'posed to be three separate levels, the second and third are over and done with so quickly you can't really include them. What it boils down to, then, is a rather crude Willy rip-off (don't even think about that one!) with a couple of rather pointless mini-games thrown in to pad it out a bit.
While Indiana is quite good fun for the first few goes, I can't really imagine anyone going wild over it. After lashing a couple of Thuggees to death the urge to reach for the reset button is almost overwhelming.
It's true Indy looks like Desperate Dan. It's true everybody including Indy adopts the same dazed crumpled expression. And it's true some of the time you die for completely unfair reasons.
But it doesn't matter. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is an excellent conversion - just about as good as is possible, I reckon.
The coin-op has been out a while now and there are plenty of people out there well experienced in whipping the odd Thuggee and ascending the odd rock face. Those people won't be disappointed. This is at least as exciting as the original.
There are three sections to the game roughly related to sections in the film. Though it's fiendishly difficult to get through each section it is possible to move between them without actually completing each one. For example, in Part 1 you have to release nine urchins from cruel tiny cages for maximum points. It's actually quite possible to move on to the trolley ride in Part 2 whilst leaving the urchins to suffer. A shame but life is hard.
Part 1 sets the pace for the rest of the game. Indiana releases (or not) the children from their cages. He also whips the Thugee guards who fall to the ground in a dazed state. By whipping them a bit more, he can send them hurtling over the side of a convenient rock face.
In Part 2 Indiana leaps in to a mine quarry-truck and has to steer it over a rail system even more unreliable than the Fenchurch Street line by leaning in the right direction at the right moments. At the same time he has to use his whip to smash passing rocks and bats.
Then, in Part 3, Indy has to grab the Sankara Stone by battling his way over a molten pit. Lots of dodging and careful timing required here. Once grabbed the stone has to be deposited at the feet of Kali, a well known Goddess of death. To actually complete the entire thing Indy has to deliver three such stones, whereupon he escapes over a rope bridge which, of course, can only be described as ropey.
The game is - it must be said - fiendishly difficult and stage one is not necessarily the easiest level.
You need to react incredibly quickly to whip the Thugee and, conversely, if you try to do anything other than whip them you will fail - they appear to run faster than you.
There's also this bearded firebomber, who's another major problem. If you don't get yourself in the right whipping position at once it's no more sequels for you. Again, you can't run away-the bomb comes after you.
There is, however, a problem with at least one aspect of the gameplay on this Spectrum version. Inevitably the programmers have opted for a two-colour display, rather than have Indy changing colour to match the background all over the place. They opted for black and white. It looks pretty good, very good even. The trouble is some of the time you just can't see what's happening as white sprites mingle into white backgrounds - it's not nearly as bad as, say, Slap Fight but I'd say at least one life lost in every five wasn't my crummy playing technique.
Despite the odd gameplay quibble, Indiana looks excellent. It's possible to mock the sprites for being a bit samey and not looking like the real thing but they are still quite a programming achievement. The backgrounds are excellent particularly in the opening section.
If you've been playing the arcade game and waiting the conversion, fear not, they've done you proud.
Label: US Gold
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
MACHINES: C64/Spectrum/Amstrad/Atari ST
SUPPLIER: US Gold
PRICE: £9.95 (C64/Ams), £8.99 (Spec), £19.99 (Atari ST)
VERSION TESTED: Spectrum/Amstrad/Atari ST
Remember Indiana Jones, the hero from Raiders, and the Temple of Doom films? He's back, not in a film, but in his own computer game. That's right, US Gold has released the long awaited computer conversion of the arcade classic, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
I'm sure many of you have already played the arcade original, I know I certainly have, what a fab game!
Atari seem to be outdoing themselves lately, especially with such hits as Gauntlet, Supersprint and Indiana Jones.
Indiana Jones is one of those games where the name of the game is skill, and plenty of it. You aim is to successfully retrieve the sacred Sankara Stones from the temple of the evil god, Kali.
They are guarded by the high priest Mola Ram and his evil thuggee henchman. There are three stones to collect, each of these stones is situated in the temple. To get to the stones you must first pass through three stages, or scenes.
All three have various hazards and dangers which must be overcome. The only way to avoid these, is by using Indy's trusty whip.
You begin with five lives and the game ends when all five lives are lost. It is incredibly easy to lose all five of your lives, as you will discover. Each lime you lose a life, a message appears at the bottom of the screen telling you how you could have avoided dying.
For example, if you are killed by a thuggee guard, the message, "Whip the thuggee" guard, Indy" will appear.
Scene One: The Mine.
This is where you begin your quest. Equipped with your whip you must protect yourself from snakes, bats and constant attacks from the thuggee guards.
The snakes and bats can be destroyed with just one crack of the whip. You can also use your whip to swing across chasms between the pathways. The guards, on the other hand, have to be thrown off the ledges.
There are nine enslaved kids locked up in cages. Rescue them for bonus points, You are also attacked by Mola Ram himself, who magically appears on the screen and throws fireball at you.
To escape this stage, you must find the entrance to the railway tunnel. Enter it and you will go on to the next scene.
Scene Two: Mine-Cart Chase.
This is the fun part. You are now sitting in a rail-cart, speeding down a series of railway tracks which are linked by several junctions.
You can go fast or slow, depending on whether you move your joystick up or down. As you proceed down the lines, other carts - full of thuggee guards - approach both from in front and behind, intent on stopping you dead in your tracks, you might say! If they catch you up, your cart will be overturned.
You will also come across oncoming guards who are waiting for you alongside the tracks, Whip them for extra points. After a while you will come to the end of the line. This is the exit to the next stage.
Scene Three: The Temple.
This is probably the easiest of all the stages. Here you must collect the Sankara Stone, which is just above the statue of the evil god, Kali.
You are attacked by some of Mola Rams thuggee henchmen, as well as Mola Ram himself.
As you come near to the statue you way is barred by a pit of molten lava. This can easily be swung across by using your whip. Once across you will notice that the floor just below the statue continually opens and closes.
You must manoeuvre yourself very carefully to successfully retrieve the stone from the top of the statue.
One false move and you'll fall into the molten lava - what a way to go! Once you do have it, two doors will open on either side of the statue. These are the exits to the next level, and the next Sankara Stone.
All three scenes are repeated over and over until every Sankara stone has been collected.
Paragon has produced quite an accurate and splendid conversion, especially on the Atari ST version. The graphics are well drawn and are a good reproduction of the original.
Playability is great. Control of your character is smooth and easy, which is what I like best about this game. I think that the sound could have been a lot better, though.
A lot of the sound effects were not all that descriptive. There's one or two snags that I'd like to point out.
Firstly, each level - which is made up of three scenes - has to be loaded in separately, and when you lose all of your lives the first level has to be reloaded.
If you purchase the game on tape, you will find this both tedious and tiresome.
Secondly, it will take you quite a lot of practice to eventually master the game as it is extremely hard. Whether you're a fan of the arcade original or you're just after some high adventure - with a few pitfalls thrown in - this the game for you.
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £8.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Atari ST Diskette: £19.99
THE CHIEF WHIP
The hero is back! Licensed from the Spielberg/Lucas film of the same name via the Atari coin-op machine version of the same name, Indiana Jones is on a rescue mission to recover the lost Sankara stones from the malevolent Thuggee cult. US Gold have employed an army of programmers for the popular machines - Tiertex (who did Ace Of Aces and 720', also reviewed this issue) were responsible for the Spectrum and CBM64, while Paragon did the Amstrad and Atari ST versions. For what we are about to receive, may the cooks be truly responsible...
Indy's off to recover the stolen Sankara stone and rescue the Indian villagers' children who have been enslaved beneath Pankot Palace, secret worshipping ground of the Thuggee Death Cult. There they are forced to dig in the mines for precious gems and the other missing Sankara stones.
The game is split into three distinct levels. Indy's first task is to rescue the children, which involves travelling through a series of caverns, tunnels. ladders, chutes and conveyor belts to discover the whereabouts of each child. The labyrinth of pathways are patrolled by Thugs and infested by venomous snakes which can give a fatal nip if they get too close.
WHIPPING UP A STORM
The odds aren't entirely stacked against Indiana because, as always, he's armed with his trusty whip. Zapping Thugs with it renders them helpless for a short time, while whipping the snakes dispenses with their disservices permanently, The children are hidden inside tiny cells, and to free them Indy can whip open the cell doors. When all the children have been freed, it's on to the second level.
This features a death-defying race in mine cars along the rail network inside the confined space of the tunnels. The player controls the car containing Indiana Jones, and must safeguard against derailments as well as watching out for jumps and missing sections of rail. The route to freedom is guarded by Thugs and a Thug giant all intent on stopping Indy's progress.
The final level takes place within the Temple Of Doom itself. Here the Sankara stone must be recovered from beneath the statue of Kali, the four-armed goddess of death. To achieve this Indy must avoid pursuing guards and other nasties. Clever manoeuvring and a maelstrom of skillful whipping are essential to get through this screen. The action continues until all three Sankara stones have been recovered, when Indiana is then faced with a perilous rope bridge to get across.
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom suffers from several problems, some associated with individual machine restrictions, but in general it seems to be an indifferent implementation of a great action film. The coin-op itself, though pretty to look at, wasn't much above average in gameplay, and it must be a point that in converting a less than perfect source, which must be accurately copied, the designers and programmers are seriously restricted. The game's stages are obviously based on the film, but poor game design lets them down tremendously; the Thug guards, for instance, regularly appear out of thin air to attack, giving you no chance at all to retaliate (they are fairest in Spectrum version). And then, rescuing the captured kids seems too easy and doesn't take very long.
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