I recently caught bit of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom that was on TV — that part with the Thugee ceremony and the heart removal — and, as proof of how engrained video games have become in my mind, the first thought the popped into my head was, “Mola Ram was sure cute as a Lego character! What with his cute horned hat and non-threatening wardrobe! Teehee!”
Ok, I went a little too far with the cute stuff there. But really, does this guy look like he could tear your heart out and sacrifice you to Kali?
Anywaaaay….when I had a Nintendo DS, I was all about the Lego games; well, most of them. I was actually introduced to them via Lego Star Wars on a console. By the time I got to the Lego Indiana Jones series, I had played through and loved , loved, loved the Lego Star Wars games. The Indy Lego games were incredibly fun and, like the Lego Star Wars games, they injected humorous–yes even cute– cinematics between game play.
The Lego Indy series consisted of two games: The Original Adventures (2008), which covered the first three movies, and The Adventures Continues (2009) , which covered Crystal Skull. And before I hear any nonsense, yes, I LIKED Crystal Skull and all its silliness; it translated very well in the Lego video game format. They are side scrolling, puzzle/adventure games in which you collect Lego bits worth different points and special items and fight off bad guys. They contain two modes of play: story mode and free range mode; and you have to play through the story mode first to open up the free range mode. There are achievements of sorts for completing areas, collecting certain numbers of points, finding all the special items, etc.
But what really made the game (and all the Lego games) stand out is the previsouly mentioned humor that was injected into the cut scenes between levels. In Lego Indy, the cut scenes played like movie shorts with little Lego characters, Indy, Sallah, Shortround, Willie, Dr. Brody, and so on, reenacting scenes, each with a dose of tongue-in-cheek humor added. These are, after all, Lego avatars poking fun at movies that already didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Here’s an example of some of the cinematics (probably from a console version) that have been edited together:
And I liked that the games didn’t include voices, but rather scant vocalization of hmmms, uh-huhs, screams, smiles, laughter, and rage. Obviously, trying to get your point across like this in the real world would probably get you snickers, frowns, and perhaps a punch in the mouth, but in the Lego games it works.
And frankly, I also liked that the games were fun but not challenging. I don’t think I ever once wanted to hurl my DS across a crowded train car (as I usually played during my commutes). As you progressed in the games, you had the opportunities to open up new characters, some of which had special abilities needed to reach special items and unreachable places. While in story mode, you always had to play as Indy, but you were accompanied by three other interchangeable characters, usually the ones integral to the story at the momet. But once you opened up free play, you could pay as whomever you wanted, from a mummy, the guy who gets chopped by a helicopter, and a random Nazi soldier to Mola Ram, Walter Donavan, and Marion Ravenwood. There were dozens of characters, plus hidden characters. The gameplay was solid, the levels were well-designed and not difficult to navigate, and the controls were easy to remember and always worked well.
For now, the Lego video game franchise has been relegated to generally family friendly fare: Star Wars, Batman (I’ll talk about those two later), Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean, But I think it would wonderful to see and expanded selection. Wouldn’t it be fun to run the mob and play as a horse head in Lego Godfather? “Say hello to my little friend!” would take on a while new meaning in Lego Scarface. (I mean, Legos are already small, see, so the little friend would actually be little. It’s not funny, I know.) And how about Lego Jaws? Who wouldn’t want to swim with that cute Lego shark? Haha, look at all those Lego tourists waddling off the beach! Cause Lego legs don’t bend, see. Inevitable maiming due to incorrect anatomy? Now that’s funny.