List of all Indiana Jones video games, All you need to know
Following the recent release of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate, Harrison Ford’s fifth and likely final interpretation of the iconic archaeologist Indiana Jones; And with a new game on the horizon thanks to Bethesda, Indy’s adventures once again gain relevance in the movie and video game scene.
This transmedia character has managed to cross the screen, not only with the performance of Ford but also in the form of video games. Jones holds an important place in gaming history, inspiring sagas like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. The franchise boasts a captivating sense of adventure, a rich lore rooted in royal history and archaeology, and a common enemy, the Nazis.
However, in the video game industry, Indy’s adventures have been a roller coaster. While games like the Uncharted series have been critically acclaimed, Indiana Jones games have ranged in quality from exceptional to horrific. Grab your whip and your hat, here begins the adventure of the most famous archaeologist in fiction.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)
Indy’s first video game adventure, released in November 1982 for the Atari 2600, was an adaptation of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark film. At the time, movie-related games were a novelty, and this game must be judged against that backdrop. While not nearly as terrible as ET, a game that contributed to the industry crash of 1983, Raiders of the Lost Ark also incorporated puzzles and exploration of an interconnected world. Although its controls are not adapted to the Atari 2600, the second controller was used to manage inventory.
Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom (1985)
Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom was the first Indiana Jones video game developed by Mindscape. It featured a side-scrolling perspective, as the player-controlled Indiana Jones on his search for an ancient artefact on a mysterious island, solving all kinds of puzzles through six levels along the way. Counting on weapons such as a mystical staff with which to fight enemies such as monsters and bats. The game was available for the Commodore 64 and Atari 800 and additionally appeared at number 10 in the UK Commodore 64 charts for the week ending January 3, 1985.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of DOOM (1985)
Following the success of the second Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom received its arcade game adaptation. Developed and published by Atari in 1985, this game perfectly captured the essence of the movie. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom centres on four action-packed sequences, including cave exploration, minecart chases, a Sankara stone heist, and a bridge battle with Mola Ram. It featured digitized voice acting, a rarity at the time, and provided a decent arcade experience. However, the later version of the game for the NES, developed by a different studio, didn’t live up to the arcade original, offering frustrating mazes and bugs.
Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients (1987)
This game was a text-only conversational adventure, developed by Angelsoft and published by Mindscape, released for the Apple II and IBM PC4. It is not based on either film, although the cover is a collage of various films, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients, Indy travels to the Mexican jungle to explore the Tepotzteco Pyramid, to get the Mazatec Power Key before the Nazi forces get there first.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989-1991)
LucasArts surprised fans with two video game adaptations of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade released simultaneously in 1989. The first, titled Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure, was a point-and-click adventure developed in-house by LucasArts. It successfully recreated the movie, while offering multiple solutions to the puzzles and an in-game scoring system, adding replayability rare in adventure games. Unlike many older games, this one can still be played via Steam.
The second game, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game, was outsourced to Tiertex, a developer known for lacklustre arcade versions. Unfortunately, it fell short of LucasArts’ offering. There was a third, a third game based on the same movie. A title that was exclusive to the NES, developed by Software Creations, published by Taito and released in 1991. They didn’t even use another name to differentiate it and it stayed as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992)
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis occupies an important place in the history of Indiana Jones video games. Unlike previous games based on movies, this game takes Indy on a new adventure to discover the lost city of Atlantis and stop the Nazis from exploiting his power. It is widely considered to be the best Indiana Jones game, offering a cinematic experience for players.
The title serves as a direct sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, both in terms of plot and gameplay. It continues Indy’s battle against the Nazis, set a year after the previous game. The Fate of Atlantis features a unique feature of three different routes that players can choose from, each with their locations, items, and obstacles.
The Wits Path focuses on puzzle solving, Fist Path offers action-packed scenarios and fights, while Team Path involves teaming up with Sophia Hapgood to solve puzzles together. The addition of full voice acting enhances the immersive experience of the game. Upon its release, Fate of Atlantis received great acclaim, selling over a million copies. Adventure Gamers even named it the 11th-best adventure game in 2011.
The Canceled Sequel: Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix
Unfortunately, there was one cancelled Indiana Jones game worth mentioning: Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix. This game was intended as a sequel to Fate of Atlantis, but it faced multiple challenges during its development, which ultimately led to its cancellation. Set after World War II, the game focused on the battle of Indy against the Nazis as they tried to recover the Philosopher’s Stone and resurrect Adolf Hitler. However, the development process was plagued by leadership changes, failed attempts at outsourcing, and the need to create cutting-edge art within the technical limitations of the time.
The final blow came when the team discovered, after 15 months of development, that the game could not be sold in Germany due to strict restrictions on Nazi imagery in video games. Censorship that other popular games such as Wolfenstein have suffered in their flesh. Since Germany is a major market for adventure games, LucasArts decided to scrap the entire project, as they did not have the time or resources to change the game to accommodate this type of censorship. This title was made into a comic book miniseries by Dark Horse Comics.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1993)
In addition to movies and comics, Indy’s adventures have also been part of television history, with a series that chronicled his travels as a young boy, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. This production had its counterpart in the form of video games. One for the NES and one for the Sega Genesis.
The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles game for the NES, developed by Chris Gray Enterprises and published by Jaleco in 1993, stands as the best Indiana Jones game for the platform. It offers side-scrolling stages where Indy collects treasure and fights against the German war machine. While on the other hand, Instruments of Chaos Starring Young Indiana Jones for the Sega Genesis and also from 1993, developed by Brian A Rice Inc., featured good graphics but suffered from frustrating level design and poorly polished game mechanics, better archaic. The implementation of the Indiana Jones whip in this game is particularly cheesy.
Indiana Jones’s Greatest Adventures (1994)
Indiana Jones Greatest Adventures was released as a prominent Indiana Jones platform game in 1994 for Super Nintendo. Developed by Factor 5, it offers smooth 2D platforming, Mode-7 vehicle settings, and an immersive adventure spanning all three Indy movies. It is considered a masterpiece and a faithful representation of the films.
Indiana Jones and the Hell Machine: Transition to 3D (1999)
As the gaming industry transitioned to 3D graphics on the fifth generation of consoles, Indiana Jones faced new challenges. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, released in 1999, marked Indy’s turn from fighting the Nazis to fighting the communists. Setting the stage for a new story. However, the game’s departure from traditional Indiana Jones adventures did not sit well with some Indy Adventures fans.
The game introduced elements such as magical powers, supernatural beings, ancient machines, and even an evil god named Marduk who sought to conquer Earth. These additions, along with the inclusion of aliens, before the fourth instalment of the Indiana Jones films, already caused some controversy among fans who felt it deviated too far from the original Jones formula.
While the PC version of the game received mixed reviews, the Nintendo 64 port faced significant technical issues. While visually quite impressive for the N64, the gameplay was tedious with hidden on-screen elements and performance issues. Another noteworthy aspect of Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine was its limited availability. The N64 version could only be rented from Blockbuster or purchased directly from LucasArts. In Europe, the game faced multiple delays and was ultimately cancelled. As a result, used copies of the game became rare and expensive.
Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (2003)
Moving on to Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, developed by The Collective, the game continued similarly to Infernal Machine. It offered an action experience, in the truest Tomb Raider style, with platforming, exploration, and a greater focus on melee combat. The game received positive reviews for its presentation and graphics, and the HD version is still playable to this day, being available on platforms like Steam and backwards compatible with Xbox One.
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (2008)
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is Indy’s first foray into the world of Lego. The game explores the worlds of the first three Indiana Jones movies with recognizable characters and signature Lego humour. The title was a success achieving more than 11 million copies sold worldwide. It is one of the most popular Lego titles.
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (2009)
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings had a troubled development. Originally planned for the next generation consoles of the time, 2009, although in the end the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions were cancelled. The game’s release was limited to platforms such as the Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Wii, and PSP.
The Wii version of Staff of Kings drew criticism for its motion controls. The game required players to perform physical movements with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, such as in the driving parts, leading to awkward and unintuitive gameplay. The PSP version, developed by Amaze Entertainment, fared relatively better, addressing story inconsistencies and offering more classic controls. Despite its problems, the Wii version, in addition to good graphics, included the bonus of being able to unlock Fate of Atlantis.
The game overall mixed action-adventure elements with platforming and exploration. The focus also shifted to melee combat against enemies like Nazis, ghosts, stone statues, kung-fu experts, and even giant dragons. The physics engine was buggy and unwieldy, while internal changes at LucasArts, including staff turnover and a shift in focus towards Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Surprisingly, it was the PSP version developed by Amaze Entertainment that stood out from the rest. This version addressed inconsistencies in the story and offered controls that were more like a traditional video game.
LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (2009)
This sequel to Indiana Jones in the LEGO World expands the universe of the game the fourth film. Although the specific sales are unknown, the game managed to keep the interest of the players and added the Level Editor Mode for custom creation. Although it didn’t achieve the same level of success as its predecessor, LEGO Indiana Jones 2 still managed to be one of the best-selling titles for the first few weeks after release.
While Indiana Jones’s video game history has seen triumphs and disappointments, his legacy in the gaming industry remains influential. The character’s sense of adventure, exciting action, and engaging storytelling have inspired countless developers and paved the way for future franchises like Uncharted and Tomb Raider.