LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures
You Throw Me the Red Block, I Throw You the Blue Block!
Can you go back to the well too often? That's the big question that needs to be answered in any review of Traveller's Tales' LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (for PC, 360, PS3, and Wii). We already know that the concept is a great one, having already been thoroughly proven in the two flighty and fun mashings of everyone's favorite brightly colored Danish building blocks with the Star Wars saga. The basic idea, however, is so limited and so cute-dependent that you can readily imagine ennui slipping in before block-built Indy encounters his first snake.
But it doesn't. Although I came into this one with a yawn and a seen-it-all-before attitude, I was almost immediately charmed by the fast-moving action and the amiable G-rated take on what Lucas and Spielberg might have come up with if they'd worked in the medium of primary-colored building blocks. LEGO Indy plays pretty much exactly like LEGO Star Wars, however, so I was running on fumes by the time I discovered the Holy Grail in Last Crusade. Still, the affection that I have for Dr. Jones' first three adventures (yes, even Temple of Doom) outweighed any sense of boredom that began to creep in during the occasionally tedious final few hours.
Basically, Traveller's Tales hasn't touched the LEGO formula at all. LEGO Indy is a trip through the three original Indiana Jones flicks--Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade--with LEGO blocks forming the characters and much of the scenery. Everything plays out as a kid-friendly pantomime of the movies. All dialogue has been removed, leaving characters to communicate in winks, smiles, and frowns. Most of the violence has been softened or made humorous. Enemies explode into LEGO blocks when they "die." Key moments have been twisted to provide some chuckles. The evil trenchcoat Nazi in Raiders, for instance, winds up sitting down on the red-hot Staff of Ra medallion in Marion Ravenwood's burning bar, apparently burning the icon into his ass (we're spared finding out for sure). Belloq's opening of the Ark now leads to a big punch-up, not the famous cinematic meltdown. Mola Ram in Temple of Doom isn't ripping any LEGO hearts out of his sacrifices. And Last Crusade, uh, is just as childish here as it was in movie theaters.
Gameplay sticks to the plan, too. Each level features Indy and a co-star forming a dynamic duo to take on Nazis, rob tombs, solve impenetrable ancient mysteries, that sort of thing. You can flip back and forth between the two protagonists at will, or team up with another player and go through the game co-op on a single system (there is no net support on any platform for multiplayer). Various characters are blessed with special abilities and cursed with phobias, although these characteristics aren't all that pronounced through much of the game. Indy's infamous fear of snakes, for instance, is a nice added touch here, although it comes up so infrequently that it might as well not be present at all. The biggest real difference between characters is how women can jump higher than men, and how little guys like Short Round can slip through tiny doorways that are otherwise off-limits to normal-sized people.