LICENSE TO THRILL?: Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures (1994)

“If adventure has a name, then it must be Indiana Jones.” Rod grabs his fedora and whip for a SNES favourite. 

Who made it?:  Factor 5, LucasArts (Developers), JVC, LucasArts (Publishers).

Genre: Platformer.

Platforms: SNES, Virtual Console.

Format: Cartridge, Digital.

Released: July 27, 1995 (UK).

Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures is a game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994 that covers Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So, those who hate Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be relieved that they don’t have to play levels from that movie! Like the Super Nintendo Star Wars titles, the developers of which also worked on this game, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures includes screenshots between levels that show key moments from the films with text appearing at the bottom of the screen displaying dialogue or exchanges that have been tweaked for the game.

One of the first things you will notice is that the music, given the limitations of the SNES when compared to games on consoles released afterwards, is faithfully recreated from the movies to give you a real sense of familiarity, as well as helping to immerse you in the world of the character as you play through each story. However, there are a few downsides where the developers have “chosen… poorly.” A lot of the music, while sounding great, doesn’t necessarily extend to all of the cues used, and there’s a lot of recycling of compositions, too, even in levels which take place in a movie where that score wasn’t featured.

For example, any level that involves a chase or a scene where Indy controls a vehicle will play music in Temple of Doom from the scene where Indy, Willie, and Shortround are in the raft going down the slopes. Some levels will use the music from Raiders that plays in the scene where Indy and Sallah are at the dig site in Cairo, and more than once, too. Intriguingly, there’s no score from Last Crusade, but there are cases where the “Raiders March” is used more than once, though, and that’s always great to hear!

The sound effects include all the familiar noises associated with the films, such as the sound of Indy’s mighty punch, which is so hard its capable of making heavy objects like crates and vases fly a couple of feet forward! Throughout the game, short and sweet soundbytes of dialogue will be used at the start of every level, or the beginning segment of a level.

The mechanics are pretty much the same as they were in the Star Wars games on the Super Nintendo, so it’s an action platform game as well. If you’re familiar with those other titles, it won’t take you long to get used to this one. As Indiana Jones, the weapons/attacks you have at your disposal are your powerful fists, a rolling attack (also useful for speeding through the levels a bit faster), a handgun (which you don’t start with and need to find) that comes in handy for distant enemies and allows you to run and shoot. You can also collect grenades, up to nine at once, and it will damage any adversaries present on the same screen. But it wouldn’t be an Indiana Jones game if you didn’t have his trusty whip, and so Indy’s most iconic weapon is available for you to whip it as much as you want, so whip it good! You can use it on enemies and on certain “hooks” you see throughout the level in order to get from one ledge to another without falling to your death.

Other elements in the game are the items you can collect. Hearts refill your health gauge and are found scattered in item containers. Jewels add points towards your total score. Extra Lives are square Dr. Jones icons that are often in areas not always obvious to the player. Kidnapped Children are only in the Temple of Doom mine levels and they are more valuable than Jewels as they give you even more points towards your total score. There is also a password system which uses letters of the Greek Alphabet, a nice little reference to Last Crusade. There’s also three difficulty settings you can choose from.

Most of the iconic moments from each film are included in the game. From Raiders of the Lost Ark, you have the giant boulder chasing Indy, in Temple of Doom you have the driving levels like the raft down the slopes and the mine cart chase, and in Last Crusade, you have the tank chase and a biplane dogfight that takes place after the Zeppelin scene in the movie. But there are a few moments absent, like the truck chase in Raiders or the motorbike pursuit in Last Crusade. At certain points, you will have to defeat bosses like Toht, the swordsman Indy takes out with a single gunshot, and Rene Belloq from Raiders, but there’s also a strong thug you fight that’s not in the movie. Mola Ram is the only boss from Temple of Doom. In the Last Crusade levels, the bosses are a member of the Brotherhood of the Cruiciform Sword, as well as Colonel Vogel on the tank. Walter Donovan is the last boss and you fight him in a his skeletal form, which takes great liberty with what happens to Donovan in the film.

Some things which can be slightly frustrating are moments when you think you’re not level with an enemy’s line of fire, but you are just seemingly a pixel away from it and still get hit. There can be some exasperating bits but they are mostly to do with environmental hazards or accidentally missing jumps. Another part of Greatest Adventures that can be maddening are the driving levels, which are the most challenging in the game, and if you die in these stages, you have to restart the entire level all over again.

Overall, this game is a pretty faithful adaptation of the films, with some additions here and there, but nothing that really hurts the proceedings in my view. I would definitely recommend playing it if you haven’t. I would also rank this as one of the best adaptations of a movie on a console, which is up there with classics such as Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, GoldenEye (original N64 version), and also the excellently fun Lego games of recent years such as Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Lego Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures, Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7, and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. Therefore, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures is a licensed classic.

Useless Trivia

(Via Wikipedia)
  • A Sega Mega Drive/Genesis port of the game was apparently completed and ready to be released between summer and autumn of 1995, and was reviewed in GamePro (#73, August 1995, rated 3.5 out of 5.0) and in Germany’s GAMERS (November 1995 issue, rated 2 (B Grade). Like many third-party titles near the end of the Genesis’ life, however, the game was shelved and was never released.
  • The game was re-released for the Wii’s Virtual Console in 2009.

Rod Petrie

Gamer since 1988 at the age of five. First system was the Nintendo Entertainment System. Favourite retro systems - NES, SNES, N64, MegaDrive, PS1, and PS2.

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