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Game Review

Oh yeah, that's the Indiana Jones I remember.

That perpetual stubble and derring-do. The swaggering bravado mixed with a dash of self-deprecating humor. A whip at the ready and a dusty fedora shading his brow. That's the Indy I know.

Of course, this one's made out of plastic building blocks. But I'd recognize him anywhere.

And that's a testament to the creative skills of Traveler's Tales Games, the company that not long ago reshaped the Star Wars empire into a series of popular LEGO-figured video games. Now the developer has set its sights on a new world of digitized, snap-together adventure: Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of ... Plastic Bricks
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures takes young gamers through condensed, plasticized and slightly sillier versions of the original movie trilogy. But fear not older fan boys, LEGO Indiana Jones caters to you, too. Plasti-Indy outruns boulders, throws punches atop speeding vehicles and pilots careening mine carts just like his film counterpart.

Each movie is broken up into a series of chapters, bracketed by cute animated cutscenes that mirror the original Steven Spielberg-helmed pictures. Gamers can play solo or bring a friend in to help them work out ways to open locked gateways, navigate bottomless chasms or rebuild a damaged plane engine (with LEGO parts, of course).

Along with Indiana, other characters from the films show up, each with his or her own special abilities. Marion, for example, can jump high, Henry Jones Sr. can solve hieroglyph puzzles and Willie can break glass with her voice (not a particularly flattering nod to actress Kate Capshaw's vocal prowess).

The game capitalizes by filling every level with a ton of brainteasers that can only be solved by a specific character in the party or by several characters working together. But there's help to be found in other quarters, as well. Swamp-fording elephants, key-smuggling monkeys and fearsome (to Indiana) LEGO snakes all become part of the exotic puzzle-solving action.

When the Punches Fly
When players aren't piecing answers together, they're trying to break everything else apart. As Indiana progresses through the game's levels, he finds clues and important puzzle parts in barrels, crates, tables and other miscellaneous objects scattered throughout this digital domain. So breaking everything down into LEGO pieces is essential. Similarly, even the mobs of villains Indy and Co. must dispatch are reduced to their basest parts when the punches, whip cracks and plastic bullets start flying.

Still, the game steers clear of most everything that would be considered really violent. Characters never seem to be hurt. In fact, the game is so forgiving that you can't even lose. When Indy or the other heroes are reduced to LEGO bits, they just reform in a second and keep going.

That said, there was one thing in my gameplay that took me by surprise.

About That Source Material ...
As I made my way through the levels, I was reminded of the original movies (which I hadn't watched in a while) and the violence that took place in them. And it caught me off guard. Remember the guy who gets decapitated by the propeller blade in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Or the villain who snatches a beating heart out of a man's chest in Temple of Doom? Yeah, I had sort of forgotten those parts, too.

And although there's nothing that intense represented in this game—a few dangling LEGO skeletons, sword-wielding "Thuggees" and a plastic monkey brain entrée (played for humor) are the worst—my rekindled memories impressed on me that parents ought to pause before showing their 10-year-old this game's source materials, including the latest big-screen installment of the franchise.

That public-service message aside, however, this rendition of Indy's exploits has a lot to offer. Whether you're looking for some new chuckle-worthy takes on Indiana lore or just good old-fashioned, whip-cracking, puzzle-solving spelunking, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures stacks up hours of cute, LEGO-snapping fun.

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Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PlayStation 2, PSP, DS




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Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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