Indiana Jones made his video game debut in Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari 2600, released in 1982. Wow, what can I say. I played the hell out of this game when I was in 4th grade. And I solved it often. If you asked me 30 years ago, I would have rated this game a 10. It was my favorite game. I tried playing it again after putting it down for decades. I remembered how to do most of the necessary steps, but I did run into a road block, unlike Adventure. I have to ponder, how much time did i spend on this as a kid? The game is not intuitive nor is there anything apparent on what to do next. We played and solved it by a large network of players sharing information. No internet. However, today, I did use the internet to remind me of a couple things.
So we take on our favorite hero, Indiana Jones, and we start in a market. Using both joysticks (one to control Indy, on to control your inventory), you navigate Indiana Jones through many screens collecting items and trying to figure out what to do with them. There is not many things that relate to the movie at all… It’s really just a weird game of trial and error. But why was it so intriguing 30 years ago? It was the first of its kind on many levels, and that made this game very intriguing. It was one of first role playing games (RPG), where Adventure could be a an earlier one and I believe Intellivision did have a Dungeons and Dragons game. It was the first game, that i know of, where you actually have a controllable inventory of 6 items.
Ultimately, I didn’t have the time or patients to solve this again today. The grappling hook, that you use to move among the mesa map, and the using the parachute to slide under a tree just pissed me off too often to give it more than 30 minutes of my time. As a 9 year old without internet or any other type of electronic entertainment, we had all the time in the world. If I was able to save my game, I would have gone through the game. But having to start all over after 3 lives (which are used up quickly in the mesa map), I grew impatient.
All this makes the game hard to rate. Then vs. now. By todays standards, many reviewers would rank it low. Knowing what it was at the time and still appreciating the great aspects will definitely be considered. Though I got impatient and it grossly deviates from the movie, it was a cool game that I still enjoyed re-experiencing. I don’t think it would be highly regarded by anyone that played it for the first time today without context. But if you have a few hours and read the instruction manuals, you may have a bit of fun. Then imagine you had your friend network collaborating on findings. Good stuff.