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Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings Wii Review

28/08/2009 Family Returning Gamer Review
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Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings Nintendo Wii

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings

Nintendo Wii


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Whatever you think of the previous Indiana Jones games, there is no doubting that Indy himself is a universally likeable character. The re-emergence of point and click adventures brings us this Wii release. Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings is worth persevering through although at time the controls would say otherwise. The graphics and nostalgic Egyptian feel will give you an uncontrollable urge to listen to "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers.

I remember seeing "Temple of Doom" in the 80's in the Savoy cinema Nottingham and immediately proclaiming it as the best film i'd ever seen, remember "chilled monkey brains"? I then saw "Romancing the Stone" in a small town called Bellingen in Australia and was equally impressed (and loved that town also). With good memories bouncing around in my bonce, I looked forward to Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings on the Wii.

The game features what I thought was the real voice (but was extremely surprised to find isn't) and CGI version of a very passable Harrison Ford as the hero. If I remember rightly Harrison is actually the biggest grossing box office actor of all time through films such as Star Wars, the Indy series and The Fugitive. I was astonished to see that at the time of writing Harrison is making a new Indy film whilst enjoying his pension years.

Lucasarts were behind many gaming hits of the early 1990's including Monkey Island and Prince of Persia.

This title is made by Lucasarts and A2M (I suspect it won't be long before the latter name is rebranded). Somewhat controversial of late, Lucasarts were behind many gaming hits of the early 1990's including Monkey Island and Prince of Persia. Why controversial? Well at one stage the name was synonomous with quality but of late they have been a bit like Guy Ritchie's films, the name brings quality to mind, but recent goods have failed to live up to the hype. Of course, with the rise and rise of blogs and gaming websites, the criticism of Lucasarts can be quite severe, and perhaps a little over the top. I decided to be as open-minded and objective as poss.

The plot is pretty poor to be honest. Suffice to say that it's a beat em up type of progressive strategy game where the ultimate goal is to try and locate the staff that Moses used when parting the Red Sea. Ordinarily that would seem like asking a bit much, but not for Indy.

The opening title screen is an excellent re-creation of Indy's office with that classic 1930's feel. Upon delving into the game itself you are soon immersed in a very passable representation of an Indiana Jones adventure. This encompasses smashing through windows, shimmying over ledges, busting down doors, I could go on. Indy is rather like a cross between an agile Max Payne and Bear Grylls. The action takes place in various locations across the globe, all of them containing a gritty well travelled feel and theme. You can almost feel the sweat drip down Indy's cotton brown shirt. Along the way you are required to collect artifacts which in turn provide unlockables. There is even an unlockable Han Solo somewhere! Fans of retro gaming will also appreciate an unlockable version of the classic "Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis", a classic point click game that almost justifies the price tag of this one alone.

I have to give credit to the selection of tasty bashing options on offer

Within a couple of Chapters and armed with the experience of some well put together tutorials, we learn that Indy can fight like a boxer and whip like those people on Channel 4's Eurotrash. But trying to get the hang of these actions can get your John-Paul 'Goat'ier a little (sorry). More on that later. I particularly enjoyed the diverse nature of tasks. There are puzzles to complete (which are actually very easy), planes to have dogfights in, and also shoot-outs. Most fight scenes consist of several baddies, all of which have to be defeated, be it through punching, whipping bookcases on top of them, smashing fish tanks or wrapping crowbars around their head. I have to give credit to the selection of tasty bashing options on offer. Several of the levels are playable with Indy's Dad Prof Henry Jones, I was reluctant to try this though as fighting would be a nightmare, it's painful enough as is. Which leads us on to the controls...

At gamepeople we don't like to bang on about the controls but they deserve a few words in the case of this title. Fighting is all motion based, the nun-chuck providing the left arm, and wii-mote the right (unless you are left handed of course). You can jab, uppercut and cross, as well as whip and pull, throw, quick throw, grapple and more. Anyone that has played Wii Sports will know that this is just not possible effectively using the Wii. If the makers had waited for MotionPlus and then released the title, gameplay would be infinitely better. After a while you end up dreading fight scenes as you know that due to the unresponsive controls, you will have to die and try again several times. It all becomes very swash and hope, with the only really accurately recognised move being the dodge. It's not all temple of doom and gloom though, look at it as a challenge and try to enjoy it, after all, games should be challenging at times. Seriously though, the controls need a vast improvement. I wonder if the responsiveness factor is behind the delayed release onto the xbox360 and PS3?

If the makers had waited for MotionPlus and then released the title, gameplay would be infinitely better.

Another frustrating feature consists of poorly placed restart points. After failing to get past the first shoot-out scene several times, one is required to re-do the intro shooting tutorial. Frustrating but to be fair a reasonably intelligent person should have figured out how to get past this bit straight away. I still enjoyed the game though, largely due to the previously mentioned diversity of movement and tasks.

I have to give a big well done shout to John Armstrong for the fantastically realistic Harrison Voice. It's so realistic that I'm not sure whether or not Prof Jones voice is actually Connery or not. The 16+ rating is a bit harsh but it's certainly not one for younger children. The controls would preclude gameplay anyway. Although the plot is throwaway, the adventure itself is nicely done and there is enough there to keep your interest. It's worth persevering through the controls and figuring out what needs to be done to kill the nastiest baddies as the answer is not always obvious. For future releases though, gamers will demand serious improvements to the motion control. Be warned though, the graphics and nostalgic Egyptian feel will give you an uncontrollable urge to listen to "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers.

Written by Sinan Kubba

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Sinan Kubba writes the Returning Gamer column.

"As an 80s kid I was obsessed with gaming. But university, stress and life relegated my hobby to the backseat. After years in the wilderness, I'm back into video games. I don't just want to play games that remind of a happy youth though. I'm just as excited about games that take things forward, experiences that re-ignite that curiosity and fascination I had years ago."

Here are the games I've been playing recently:

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