Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings

LucasArts' Indiana Jones and the Staffof kings for Nintendo Wii
Let's face it. For most of us, we appreciate the original LucasFilm trilogies better than their modern day recreations and, if you're like me, hearing the brass fanfare of the original theme songs for "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" still gives you the chills. Therefore, when LucasArts decided to recreate the experiences of the LucasFilm movies into immersive Wii experiences, I could not stop the build up of nostalgic euphoria while I await the games' releases. Unfortunately, I found the broad movements of the Wii Remote (without the precision of Wii Motion Plus) in the "Lightsaber Duels" a detriment to my nostalgic revelry and quickly lost interest in the game. The same cannot be said for the broad movement needed to recreate a whip using the Wii Remote and I am excited to say that "Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings" has me hooked (not whipped, mind you).

Everything that you love about Indy has been put into the game: his voice, expressions, mannerisms and roguish sense of humor. But, of course, you don't need a video game to give you all that. So the bread and butter is the fact that you can play as Indy and manueuver him using comparable real-life movements. The fisticuffs are handled by traditional jabs, crosses and uppercuts using both the Remote and the Nunchuck, while the Remote also doubles as his pistol and whip, allowing you to whip horizontally and vertically. All in all, a fairly intuitive mechanism, and a great deal of fun --- my only complaint is that the punching motions are slower than real life, since, obviously the game cannot have you swinging like the Tazmanian Devil.

For the hardcore game, the linear aspect of the adventure may be boring, but for a casual gamer like myself, the adventure is exciting and the automatic save points after each significant challenge means that I can play for 10 minutes, put it away, and come back when I have time and pick up where I left off. The whip can be used to disarm opponents, pull down items on top of them, grab their waist or their foot and, of course, swing across chasms and climb walls. Like most modern games, you cannot truly die in this Indy game and the restart from previous checkpoint is cleverly presented by Indy's fedora rolling into a tight spiral followed by Indy picking it up and dusting it off. The pistol sequences are presented by a simple moving in and out of hiding while aiming with the Remote and standard firing, incorporating the classic flick off-screen to reload. My complaint about not being able to swing my fists like a madman is actually unjustified, as Indy would never result to pure pugilism to win a brawl.

Faithful to the Indy from the big screen, you need to manuever your opponents against the objects in the area and take them out one by one. Throw them against a table, pull a bookshelf on top of them, snag their weapon with your whip and smash it over their head ---- these are the tools that Henry Jones Jr, archeologist adventurer extraordinaire would likely use to defeat a roomful of opponents --- and that is how the game expects you to defeat them too. A brute can take you down in about 4 punches if you don't use your head --- believe me, I discovered that early on at the expense of my ego!

The other aspect I was looking forward to was the cooperative play. However, it was disappointing to that the entire game could not be played in "Co-op Mode". The co-op game also lacked the same autosave mechanism of the solo game and it was frustrating when you and your partner don't finish the entire level and have to play it all over again the next time. But nothing is as frustrating as the first co-op sequence in which the Henry Joneses cooperatively paddle a raft down the river rapids. The effect is akin to trying to maneuver yourself in a wheel chair using a jumprope --- and when you get stuck in a corner, you have no ability to go backwards. The cooperative game was supposed to have been designed specifically for this game but the cooperative gameplay will make you feel like the loser in a deathmatch. I wound up hating the co-op journey more than Indy hates snakes!

Overall, I find the game fun and will probably sneak a few minutes to play it each day. In fact, I think I hear the John Williams theme tempting me to go back and continue my journey right now. For Indy fans, this game is definitely worth playing (I have not gotten far enough to unlock the previous "Fate of Atlantis" game to try that yet) --- and kept out of the large archeological pile of un-play-worthy Wii games.

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings by LucasArts is available for Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation 2. It has an ESRB rating of T for teen (with mild language and violence).
Produced by Kent Lee