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LEGO Indiana Jones

For: Mobile

No time for fun, Doctor Jones

Product: LEGO Indiana Jones | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Action, Adventure, Platform | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 410KB | Reviewed on: N81 8GB other handsets | Version: Europe
LEGO Indiana Jones Mobile, thumbnail 1

The South Park boys probably went a little overboard in chastising George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for the dreadful quality of the latest Indiana Jones movie, but they did highlight the fact that there are still limits to the adventuring extremes that people will accept - even from the eminent archaeologist.

The recent spate of LEGO reinventions has really opened up the possibilities, allowing game designers to extract the basic premises of the sagas and drop far more appropriate gameplay mechanics alongside the often complex plot lines. It's worked superbly well – to the point that even the LEGO franchise now comes with its own array of expectations that, when ignored, leave a gaping hole in the gameplay.

LEGO Indiana Jones on the mobile is a prime example of such a divergence from expectations. Indeed, developer Cobra Mobile has missed several opportunities here. While the game promises a mobile conversion of the popular LEGO adaptations seen on the super consoles (and anyone who's played them will testify to their quality and agree there's good reason to check out any further additions to the series) what it actually delivers is a featureless platform game, with elements of Pitfall thrown in for a bit of environmental danger, rope swings and a healthy supply of snakes. Marketed as such, LEGO Indiana Jones might have worked, but it's highly unlikely anyone will buy the mobile addition to this increasingly well-known franchise expecting a (short) run 'n jump platformer.

Without the level's cue cards, it'd be pretty tough to recognise the movie's plot and/or locations, so at every turn the game becomes less and less Indiana Jones, and the disappointment quickly deepens. Viewed side-on, the small graphics don't so much resemble LEGO bricks as basic, inexpert attempts at doodling for the micro-screen. The levels are equally lifeless – repeated ad nauseum and lacking any of the panache the LEGO games have become synonymous with. The block-built appearance seems like an excuse for simplistic graphics, rather than fidelity to an art style.

Indy undeniably runs at a fair old lick, and some of his stuntman manoeuvres can become quite addictive, particularly as the action heats up during a few well designed levels that cater for the tricky controls. Sprinting with a huge boulder biting at your heels then leaping out into a chasm to catch hold of a hanging vine is a very 'Indy' thing to do, and those moments make it almost worth enduring the ultra-basic platform hopping that makes up the rest of the game. Almost, but not quite.

The majority of the gameplay is very much an uninspired clone of Super Mario Bros, with no real evolution of the classic, yet dated gameplay. Enemies simply run back and forth in their own little area, showing no signs of even the most remedial intelligence, while the puzzles intrinsic to Indy's own particular brand of investigation are linear and telegraphed, to the point that solving them simply means following the platforms. With such a vibrant wealth of exploits to draw upon, it's a tragedy that LEGO Indiana Jones makes no effort to utilise the derring do of its namesake, instead repeating the same run, jump, whip and swing actions in lieu of imaginative level designs.

At the beginning of each level, the game suggests a unique style of play, such as an Adventure level, or Treasure level. Perhaps it's just not very well explained, but there seems to be little difference between any of them, particularly the drab platforming mechanics. This sensation of supreme disinterest in either the Indiana Jones canon or the LEGO games' style runs deep, and makes it feels as though you're playing the game as a favour for a friend – finding little to really hook you on the wealth of potential both aspects of the title promise.

Finding the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders really sums up the experience of playing LEGO Indiana Jones. You climb a bit of repetitive scenery, see the Ark sitting there, and it's over without any of that tedious adventuring, entertainment or character development seen in the movies. Despite a few enjoyable anomalies, this seems to have been designed as a game that's deliberately difficult to enjoy.

LEGO Indiana Jones
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 29 October 2008
Instead of the LEGO-built concept freeing Indiana up to have some more accessible adventures, it's used as an excuse to make the development of a lacklustre game quicker and easier
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