Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Game 91: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Introduction (1992)


A weapon more dangerous than the Atom Bomb??? We're gonna need a hell of a lot of refrigerators!

So what is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis?

Well, let's start from the beginning.

QUESTION: Who is Indiana Jones?

ANSWER: Some guy who looks a bit like Han Solo

But honestly, if you don't know about Indiana Jones, do yourself a favour and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. There's a reason it's the answer to the “My favourite movie is...” question in my What's Your Story?

QUESTION: What is the Fate of Atlantis?

ANSWER: It's in the Pegasus Galaxy and currently inhabited by humans from the Stargate program.

Now that the basics are taken care of, let's get into the game.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis takes place in 1939, which puts it just after the original movies.
  • 1935 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • 1936 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • 1938 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • 1939 - Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
  • 1957 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Interesting fact: The second Indiana Jones movie took place a year before the first. I already knew that because I'm a big nerd!

Like many games of this era (or at least the successful ones) this game was released first as a floppy disk version, then a short time later (1993 in this case) as a CD-ROM version with added speech. I'll be playing the speech version largely because it's available and my policy is to, where possible, play the best available PC version of the game from the time. As usual, I will be quickly looking at the floppy version as well for comparison purposes.

This was the first Lucasarts/Lucasfilm game to include voice acting, though unlike future games, this feature was added later by a separate team.

It was also the first Lucasarts game to use rotoscoping technology for animation. Steve Purcell played the part of Indiana Jones.

If anyone mentions Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, chances are they're talking of this adventure game. But does anyone know (I certainly didn't until I did research for this intro post) that there was also an action game...

Hips, Weapons and Fistfights! Shut up and take my money!

… as well as a comic from Black Horse...

Like every professor, Indy likes to shatter the academic dreams of his students. Poor Mr. Travis looks so sad.

The game hits many people's or publications' best adventure game lists. According to the back cover of my Lucasarts Archives box, it won “Adventure Game of the Year" from Computer Game Review and "Best Adventure Game of 1992" from Game Informer. Will it win Best Adventure Game of 1992 on the Adventure Gamer Blog? It's possible, but it'll have to beat KGB's 72, and bear in mind I'm the grumpy one who gave everyone's favourite Quest For Glory I a 52!

But then again, I do have a history with this game...

I was first introduced to Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis when I saw the Lucasarts Archives Vol 1 at a store. I was probably 1995 based on the fact it included a Demo the The Dig. I bought it.

Your beautiful model today is 'Coffee Cup and Die'

I'd previously played the Amiga version of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but I don't even think I was aware of the game's existence until this point. I used to buy Amiga magazines when I had an Amiga, but once I switched to PC I stopped buying magazines and with no access to the internet, the only way I knew about new game releases was seeing their boxes at computer game stores or sections in department stores.

I probably played Fate of Atlantis at some point soon after I bought it. And I LOVED it!

I know I played again in both 2002 and 2010. How do I know that so accurately? In short, I'm insane. The long version is: since the early 2000s I keep a spreadsheet of games I've played – largely so I know what I've played and what I've thought of it – I'd already played enough games at that point that I didn't even know what I'd played or not – I'd be playing something and part way through remember that I'd played it before and didn't like it.


WITS FISTS OR TEAM

Having played this game before, and having checked the back of the box and the manual, I know that at some point early on this game diverges and gives you three possible paths to complete. The three paths are WITS, where you have to solve harder puzzles, FISTS, where you do lots of fighting, and TEAM, where you and your companion work together to solve many puzzles.

According to the lead designer in an interview with Arcade Attack, the different paths were fellow designer Noah Falstein's idea, and including the alternate paths added an extra 18 months to development time.

I can't remember specifically, but knowing how I think, this is what likely would have happened when it was time for me to choose paths when I played before
  1. Agonise about choosing between WITS or TEAM 
  2. Choose WITS with a plan to play TEAM and FISTS afterwards 
  3. Finish game (with occasional walkthough help) 
  4. Not wanting to replay parts of the same game straight away, put the TEAM and FISTS playthroughs on the backburner for a short while and play something different 
  5. Play other games for seven or eight years 
  6. Remember this game and think it would be fun to play again 
  7. Start game, which seems new and fresh because I've forgotten most of the details 
  8. Go to step 1 

So WITS is likely the only way I've finished the game previously.

For the third game in a row, I'll once again be playing all three paths and noting interesting differences. While I have played the WITS path before, I'll be able to see the differences with the TEAM and FISTS paths on this occasion, which is something I'm looking forward to.


HAL BARWOOD

The game box makes special mention of Hal Barwood. So who is Hal Barwood and why should I care?

Hal Barwood (sitting on the left, partially obscured) amongst some very familiar faces in 1977

Hal Barwood had previously worked as a screenwriter on feature films, including Steven Spielburg's first feature, The Sugarland Express and performed an uncredited rewrite of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

When he decided to move from feature films into video games he was brought in by Lucasfilm Games to write a game based on a rejected fourth Indiana Jones movie script written by Chris Columbus.

Fun Fact: Chris Columbus wrote the script while on his way to the Americas in 1492

Not liking the script for Indiana Jones and the Monkey King, Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein came up with the idea of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, which was accepted, and for the next few years, Hal Barwood and the team made the game I'm about to play.

Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein worked together for the first time on this game, and would once again team up in Mr. Barwood's most recent game, the 2009 adventure game Mata Hari.

He currently isn't working on games and is writing novels.


SEQUELS

While there were no adventure game sequels to Fate of Atlantis, there was a planned sequel, Indiana Jones and The Iron Phoenix.

This proposed sequel involved the Philosopher's Stone and resurrecting Hitler! A design document from 1993 can be found here. It's a fascinating document not just for fans of this game but of adventure games in general.

An excerpt showing some ideas that had no place in the game yet

But the game remained stuck in the original design stage, with fears the game wouldn't be able to be sold in Germany, which was their biggest market for Fate of Atlantis, as well as many other adventure games. It did eventually find life in the form of a 4-part comic book from Dark Horse.

A sequel-of-sorts to the game was eventually made in the form of a 1999 action game, Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. The game plays much like a Tomb Raider game, but seeing as Lara Croft can be considered a female Indiana Jones, I don't know if you could blame this game for copying the other.

Infernal Machine was also written/designed by Hal Barwood, and featured another adventure with Sophia Hapgood, Indy's companion in Fate of Atlantis.

Sophia and Indy arguing about whose neck least convincingly matches the rest of their body

Infernal Machine had Indy played by the same voice actor as Fate of Atlantis, Doug Lee, and involved the Tower of Babel and King Solomon's Mines, as well as allowing us to revisit the Peruvian location of the first scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.


PISSED RATING

So what PISSED rating will this game get? For reference, here's the ratings for other Lucasarts games.
  • Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders      62
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade                    65
  • Loom                                                                   65
  • The Secret of Monkey Island                              82
  • Monkey Island 2: Lechuck's Revenge                80
Lucasarts games have consistently scored highly here, which doesn't surprise me at all - I always found their games to be of high quality, including this one.

For my personal opinion of the game, I also use my insane spreadsheet to rate the games I play out of 10, so I know that in 2010 I gave this game a 7 – this surprised me as I seem to recall this being one of my favourite adventure games. A 7 from me is a solid, 'great' game but not an all time favourite. When I put a rating on my spreadsheet I do make a point of rating games based on 'how much fun I had THIS time' to try to take nostalgia out of the picture - this perhaps could explain my surprise.

So does that suggest I'll give this game a PISSED rating of 70? No - it does mean I'll quite possibly rate the Overall Fun Factor a 7, but that shouldn't affect the PISSED rating at all apart from the subconscious effect of my fun level on my enjoyment of each category.

Well, enough talking about it - the PISSED rating don't lie (unless you're playing a Quest for Glory game – ed) so let's play the game for the next few weeks and find out how it fares.

Will I solve the Fate of Atlantis without needing assistance? Let's look at my past performance...
  1. I needed assistance in King's Quest V because I was stuck near the end.
  2. I needed assistance in Martian Memorandum because I was stuck on Mars. 
  3. I didn't need assistance for Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2 but that can be put down to the lack of puzzles in that game. 
  4. I did ask for assistance during Quest for Glory I, but that was purely to ask if I was dead-ended or if I needed to grind my skills more and not due to difficulty solving a puzzle.
So get your PISSED score guesses in and any bets on any puzzles you think I'll be stuck on and I'll be back in a week or so with my first gameplay post of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis!

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 20 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

29 comments:

  1. Benn waiting for this one - this is the game that truly got me into the genre. I had the floppy version back in the day, it must've been in 1994 or 1995 I got it. I've later played the CD version, and I'm 99% positive the ONLY difference between them is that the CD version has voice acting and the floppy version doesn't. The voice acting is for the most part pretty solid (I seem to recall a few old men With rather obnoxious voices, though), but I never felt it really added much to the game.

    Score-wise, I'm gonna go all out and say 83. I genuinely think this is a better game than Secret of Monkey Island.

    I also doubt you'll get stuck anywhere. This is not a particularly difficult game.

    One question, though - are you going to go for points? You didn't mention it in the post, but the game has a classic score system where you're awarded points for solving puzzles, with different values for different solutions, and the game keeps track of both your current score and the total cumulative score across all your games, paths and saves.

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    1. To me going for all points is more something you do when you know the game well and/or are using a walkthrough just to see all the game has to offer.

      So while I'll definitely be trying to be thorough and with playing all three paths I expect to be close to maximum IQ points at the end, I'd almost certainly miss points here or there.

      I'll make sure to put my current IQ score at the end of each post, so if you (or anyone) notice any alternate solutions or points I've missed in the playthrough I'd love a ROT13 encoded message so I can read it after I finish playing and check out all the parts I've missed.

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    2. To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ (Indy Quotient) to understand Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The alternate solutions are extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of LucasArts' game catalogue most of the in-jokes will go over a typical player’s head. There’s also Sophia’s psychism, which is deftly woven into her characterisation- her personal philosophy draws heavily from ESP literature, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these puzzles, to realise that they’re not just brain-teasers- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Fate of Atlantis truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn’t appreciate, for instance, the humour in Indy’s existential catchphrase “I'm selling these fine leather jackets,” which itself is a cryptic reference to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I’m smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Hal Barwood’s genius wit unfolds itself on their PC monitors. What fools.. how I pity them. ��

      And yes, by the way, i DO have a Atlantean statuette tattoo. And no, you cannot see it. It’s for the ladies’ eyes only- and even then they have to demonstrate that they’re within 5 IQ (Indy Quotient) points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kid ��

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  2. Let's see.. TBD rating it... er...20! ;)

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  3. "But does anyone know (I certainly didn't until I did research for this intro post) that there was also an action game..."

    I did. I had asked Fate of Atlantis for a birthday gift and of course they picked the wrong version. I really had to beg to get them back to store and change it.

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    1. Oh yeah, score guess! Let's say 80.

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    2. Ah, you've gotta love parents who don't understand their children's tastes but try their best anyway.

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  4. Oh yes! I've been looking forward to this one. To me this is pretty much the pinnacle of adventure gaming ( even though it deviates a bit from the "no deaths" example set by some of its Lucasarts siblings)

    I'm counting on TBD's nostalgia to come through this time, so I'm guessing a big fat 90

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  5. I think I played this back in the day, but can't really remember much about it.

    I'll guess at 78 for the score, because lucasarts games score highly around here and this is supposed to be pretty good (or at least well remembered in everyone's collective memories).

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  6. 75

    It's good, but I don't think it's the best game ever or anything - the last section is full of backtracking and I dislike Sophia.

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  7. I have a feeling this will be just below eighty, so let me pick 79 as my guess. I don't remember finishing the game with all 3 paths but I can't be sure which one(s) I did in the past so I'm anticipating to read all three of them!

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  8. My second favorite adventure game of all time! (the first being Day of the Tentacle, but only because it does feature a talking horse and time travel).

    I'm going to bet 77 because even if I personally prefer this over the Monkey Island games, I've been a bit refreshed by the 7 out of 10 on TBD's spreadsheet of Doom.

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    1. Day of the Tentacle is probably my favourite too, and it also came in the same box as this game - best adventure game purchase ever!

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  9. I'll go for 72 (after flirting with thoughts of 68 or 70 - I guess I only do even numbers). It's a very enjoyable game with some good puzzles and very good writing.

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  10. Finally, the best game ever made in the history of the universe, I played this title from start to finish a total of 68 times in 25 years, I also have a spreadsheet, and I remember every line, every secret, every detail.

    I even debugged the binaries, recently found the last way to die and how to trigger it. It's a masterpiece. (The action game sucks btw, and the comic is ok, but very weird).

    My favorite path is WITS, everyone played Team, but wits really shines for me.

    This has a score of 100, I don't care. This game has perfect music, perfect ending. And you won't get stuck, for sure.

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  11. I remember I played it at my friend's initially, who had it original, but somehow I only remember the endgame only from that run. Then I played it myself (no speech) and remember enjoying the story quite a bit, maybe because it was an Indiana Jones adventure. I cannot remember much, but I expect it to score lower than MI. Unfortunately, my initial score, 79 is taken by my fellow Greek (or my alt account as a cunning plan to have two goes at guessing) Antonakis, so I will opt for 77.

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  12. Short term lurker here, was waiting to get caught up reading the entire blog before commenting. Just finished in time for an excellent game.

    As with Alex, I also preferred the WITS path, although there are some similarities to the TEAM path as well, and makes it worth multiple plays.

    The music is often very well done and fits the mood, especially once you get closer to Atlantis (I don't think it's a spoiler to reveal that destination :P ), and the voice acting is generally solid, some secondary character lines are delivered flat if I remember right, but Indy and Sophia always rise to the challenge. The mood is set well just from the introduction. No puzzles stick out in my head as unsolvable.

    Score: 82

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  13. I've not played this, but I think TBD's love of this game will shine through in the final rating, especially considering the extra ways of playing previously not encountered. 85 is my guess.

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  14. Also, you missed another Indy LucasArts title, the win95 one, Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures. Weird, game similar to chips challenge at least in view and animation, and has a twin game with Yoda from Star Wars

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  15. I quite like this game, but I don't think it holds up to the monkey island. I think it has some pacing issues. So... 77.

    I have to say that I found the arcade game quite interesting. Although I have to confess I didn't quite make it pass the first stage, where you have to play in a casino until you get some amount of money... Quite a weird start for an arcade

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    1. But perhaps not weird if it was a Sierra AGI title.

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  16. Not to mention PQ1, SQ1, and so many other Sierra titles that require gambling at some point in the game to proceed. I’m also thinking of QFG1, Camelot, LSL7, and I’m sure I’m missing half of this list...

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    1. And Codename: Iceman, but I try to block that one from my memory.

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  17. I think Atlantis actually relocated to the San Fransisco Bay in the finale season of Stargate: Atlantis so it's in the pacific... otherwise my favourite entertainment Atlantis is the Mysterious Cities of Gold, who doesn't like an ancient past with solar-powered thermonuclear destruction between civilisation?

    Never played more than the intro so the dice says... 98. I can get behind that by the hype.

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  18. 74! This is one fine adventure.

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