Friday, July 7, 2023

Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (Super NES, 1994)


Truly legendary game here that I've wanted to play since 1994. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best movies of all time and probably in any legitimate top ten for action/adventure movies. And good news: This game has all three movies from the original trilogy represented. LucasArts didn't decide to have it span three games like the Star Wars SNES trilogy, which is both good and bad. Good because you're getting a lot of value / series coverage out of this one game. Bad because it can't go into the kind of detail for each one that individual games would have had.

Regardless, this game came out right around the same time as Super Return of the Jedi and has a ton in common with that trilogy. It should, same developers. I'm pretty stoked for this, so stoked that I've gotten out my old Nintendo Power for this game and loaded up the movies to watch this week. The first three.

Note: While the timing is intentional given that Indiana Jones is back, posting this isn't an endorsement of this week's movie. Which is apparently doing even worse than The Flash. One of these days these studios might learn that their target audience doesn't feel like watching their beloved legacy characters get "deconstructed" as alcoholic old fools who ruined their lives and no longer have any redeeming qualities.

Anyway,  love Raiders of the Lost Ark! Let's go!

The first movie starts. I imagine a lot of kids in 1994 were thrilled to start this game up and finally see their beloved Indy in action in a solid game. I watched the movie before playing this and that added quite a bit to the game.

...Those kids were in for it, because this game is HARD. Right off the bat, it looks a lot like the Star Wars trilogy on SNES, and it controls very similarly as well.

This one-up is just out of reach. HOW DO I GET IT

The answer? Whip. The whip is the primary weapon in this game and dishes out a lot of damage. Also it functions as a Grappling Beam for swinging off of hooks like this.

The first level really isn't bad at all. It's the only level in the game that doesn't thrash the player around like a pit bull's chew toy!

The second level immediately murders you with a giant boulder.

This is ridiculous, because you have so little room to see incoming obstacles while still staying ahead of the boulder. Also you've got obstacles just shooting up out of the ground with no warning.


At least the level is short. Get through that and we get a few movie stills telling us what's going on. Dr. Jones has to find a legendary staff that'll tell the wielder the location of the Ark of the Covenant. This is the box that once held the Ten Commandments. Yes, the actual Ten Commandments, the stone tablets.

But wait, why am I saying all of this? Pretty much everyone has seen the movie right? I certainly hope so.

I like these old 1930's-accurate (well, mostly) maps. India and Pakistan aren't divided yet, Israel is Palestine, and there are a number of other major differences. They've got Mongolia as part of the USSR, which I'm not sure if it really was, but it was definitely a USSR client state so I guess this makes sense.

The next stage has us in the snowy mountains of Nepal, looking for Marion Ravenwood's bar.

This feels very much like Super Star Wars to say the least.

At this point I start finding the revolver powerup, which actually rapid-fires like a Star Wars blaster. For whatever reason it does half as much damage as the Whip, so it's better to use the Whip most of the time. Both can be launched in all directions, which is cool.

Next is Marion's bar, and it's ON FIRE. Another super-hard stage, as the fire is constantly rising and you have to stay ahead of it.

Also the floors collapse, causing you to fall in the rising fire. What were they THINKING

At the end is a boss fight with that Karl Rove looking German guy. Yeah, that little pipsqueak is an actual boss fight. Defeat him and Marion is rescued.

Unfortunately she isn't playable, probably would be if this were in the Star Wars trilogy because they had a bunch of playable characters. I'd love to play as Marion and run around clobbering foes with a frying pan.

Hands-down the sexiest character in any action/adventure movie if you ask me. And also one of the coolest. It's really too bad she wasn't in the entire trilogy.

Next is Cairo. Home of John Rhys-Davies and his 12 kids!

The foes here ramp up in danger. Up to this point most of the threat has been from area traps. Lot of sword-wielding badasses here. Forgot to mention, you also get a good supply of grenades that function as smart bombs and clear the screen.

Next is a boss fight with the giant sword guy! I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but it was over in one shot.

That's followed with a particularly difficult boss fight where you have to chase/board a wagon and brawl with these guys on it. Luckily this is its own stage, and not at the end of an actual stage.

Once on the wagon, you have to fistfight an Abobo. This was ROUGH. Yeah, so far everything about this game is designed to just murder players.

Next up: The Well of Souls excavation site, where you finally battle actual Nazi troops en route to the burial site of the Ark.

No pit of snakes, unfortunately. "Why does the floor move?"

After much digging, it's time. The "final dungeon" of Raiders.

This level is an ancient ruin and it's pretty humongous. Here's Nintendo Power's map for it:

Yeah, this level just goes on and on. More Nintendo Power scans to come.

This place is awesome though, easily the most complex and interesting level in the game.

The nefarious Rene Belloc, Indy's archenemy.

The game kinda jumps like an hour forward in the movie here. Was hoping for a stage where Indy and Marion have to wield torches to fend off hordes of serpents. Another missed opportunity would be Marion firing the turret gun at approaching soldiers while Indy brawls with the giant pugilist guy.

One more outdoor level as the bad guys go to open the Ark, then...

Final battle with Rene Belloc. All kinds of ghosts fly out of the Ark and attack, making this a pretty interesting fight.

It's all about Add Management and taking them out before they can do any damage.

"Fear me!" says Belloc.

Then we get the legendary scene where the Smithsonian squirrels away the Ark to keep it with all those giant skeletons they've got.

They've got "top men" working on it, of course. Top men.

This really was one of the best movies of all time. Indy is a great character, Marion is a great character, John Rhys-Davies is a very likeable sidekick. Even the monkey was fun, shame about the bad dates.

Was cool to play a game based on it, even if the game was extremely hard and lacks a lot of the humor and energy of the movie.

But wait! The game isn't over by a longshot. Raiders is pretty much the first half of the game. I'll admit that part of me wishes these movies were separate games so they could have more characters/detail, but I'm guessing this worked a lot better for kids in 1994 who didn't need to buy three games.

To be continued. But first: Nintendo Power scans.

Yeah, they made this game look pretty awesome, as they were good at doing.

Note how they devoted a map to the boulder level, even though it's a super-basic straight line. They knew that second level was gonna absolutely murder players.

Lots of interesting locations here. Know what's missing, though? Memorable boss fights. Super Star Wars and company had a ton of memorable boss fights. This one has the hat-nazi and Shaman Belloc, and that one-shot sword guy if he counts.

Yeah, feels like something is missing here compared to the other SNES LucasArts classics, but it's still a good game and worth checking out.

The rest of Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures


  1. One pretty glaring problem with the map in this game is that Iraq is where Iran is supposed to be (no, really, just check out where it places Baghdad). Also the entire French Mandate in the Lebanon-Syria region is a mess. I won't even get into Europe and Africa. The map in the movie is period-correct so they can't pin this on Spielberg and Co. I sure hope someone got fired for that blunder.