The Evil Dead At 40: Games Retrospective

In June of this year, I did a rather large Raiders at 40 celebration, as Raiders of the Lost Ark turned 40-years-old. It was a fun and lengthy write-up where I covered a great many Raiders and Indiana Jones topics. Well, another one of my favourite films turns 40 this year, it was originally released in October too (the 15th, if you wanted to know). ‘Tis the Halloween season and all, so why not celebrate four decades of Ashley ‘Ash’ Joanna Williams and his numerous Deaditie troubles with a multi-article The Evil Dead celebration for my annual Halloween special? Kicking things off right, I take a look at every The Evil Dead video game over the years.

A quick thanks in advance to all the YouTuber’s footage I link to, just give the game titles a click.

The Evil Dead

EVIL DEAD C64 TITLE

The very first The Evil Dead game was based on the first film, which was released way back in 1984. Developed and published by British studio, Palace Software and released on 8-bit microcomputers the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and the BBC Micro. The game pretty much follows the plot of the film. You play as Ash in the famed cabin and your friends have been possessed by the demons. Being the last alive, Ash has to kill any Deadites that keep entering the cabin via the use of various weapons that randomly spawn. Find the Necronomicon (The Book of the Dead) and burn it in the fireplace to win.

What is interesting about the ZX Spectrum version is that it was never ‘officially’ released. If you have clicked the gameplay link up there ^^^, then that is clearly explained. The Evil Dead game was actually put on the b-side of the tape to another game called Cauldron. Supposedly, the Speccy version was an unfinished port of the C64 original when it was put on the Cauldron tape as a ‘free game’, as stated on the cover of Cauldron for the ZX Spectrum. Still, The Evil Dead could be seen as an early precursor to the survival-horror genre of games.

Another interesting titbit is that you don’t just go around killing off Deadites in the game, you have to keep closing the windows of the cabin to try and keep the Deadites out. They do eventually break their way in and you have to try to close them again. So, you are in an enclosed location, undead enemies keep spawning and breaking in through the windows and you have to board them back up while fighting off the undead. Does any of that sound familiar? Basically, this was Call of Duty: Zombies twenty-four years before Call of Duty: Zombies even existed.

EVIL DEAD C64 SCREEN

The Evil Dead was hardly a deep or very involving game, they just weren’t back then though. It was a game you put on for about an hour, had a few goes at getting a high score, then loaded up another game. At the time, it reviewed pretty well with a lot of publications comparing it to Atic Atac. Can’t say I ever understood why exactly, aside from the top-down view and the bare basic idea of killing enemies, they were nothing alike. Atic Atac was more adventure-RPG like, while The Evil Dead was more action/survival-horror (with a lack of any real horror). Anway, The Evil Dead was an okay game back then, horribly dated now, but still a decent romp back in 1984. Just a shame we would have to wait so damn long for the next game based on the films.

Evil Dead: Hail to the King

EVIL DEAD HAIL TO THE KING TITLE

Released just a short sixteen years after the first game, came the Evil Dead: Hail to the King in the space year of 2000, developed by Heavy Iron Studios and published by THQ. Storywise, this kind of works as a sequel to Army of Darkness (before the TV show existed that is) as it is set eight years after the events of that film. You play as Ash and he is in a relationship with a fellow S-Mart worker, Jenny. Ash suffers from nightmares over the events of the films and Jenny does the really stupid thing of suggesting that Ash needs to go to Professor Knowby’s cabin to (quite literally) face his demons. Of course, shit goes sideways fast and the famed tape is played, the evil is released (again), Jenny goes missing. After a quick stop off at the toolshed, Ash arms himself with his chainsaw hand and goes out to kick some Deadite bum-cheeks and tries to save Jenny.

Gameplay-wise, this can very easily be summed up as Resident Evil wearing a The Evil Dead hat. Fixed camera angles, stiff tank controls, tight inventory management, game saves by the use of limited ink ribbons (in this case, reel to reel tapes), etc. Copying Resident Evil is all well and good… if it was still 1996. Even by 2000, this game felt dated. Evil Dead: Hail to the King certainly did a great job of recapturing the mood of the films and even expanding on the lore. Obviously, a game set purely in the cabin would be dull, so there are quite a few locations to discover and everything does feel very The Evil Dead, without ever feeling out of place. Plus there’s a ton of references to the films to find too. Oh and there’s a button to press just to deliver an Ash one-liner.

EVIL DEAD HAIL TO THE KING SCREEN

It is hard to outright hate this game as a fan of The Evil Dead, but it’s also easy to spot its many clunky flaws as a game fan. This is a bare basic Resident Evil clone, of which there were endless clones of back then. Sadly, Evil Dead: Hail to the King never really did anything to stand out in the crowded market of Resident Evil clones. It being set in the same universe as The Evil Dead gave it a bit of an edge I guess, just not a sharp enough one. Overall, Evil Dead: Hail to the King was an okay game with some stubborn combat and controls. The biggest highlight of the game was the fact that Bruce Campbell voiced Ash, something he would do for (almost) every game in this retrospective from this point on.

Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick

EVIL DEAD FISTFULL OF BOOMSTICK

This one was developed by VIS Entertainment and published by THQ and released in 2003. Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick actually serves as a sequel to the previous Evil Dead: Hail to the King. Set three years after the events of the last game, Ash is getting drunk in a bar on the anniversary of the death of Jenny from the last game (she was hit by a bus apparently). The TV in the bar is playing an episode of Mysteries of the Occult, a TV show that focuses on… mysteries of the Occult. Anyway, the show is broadcast live and it plays the last known tape of Professor Knowby’s Necronomicon translation. If you have been keeping up with The Evil Dead lore, then you already know that is a very, very bad thing to do. So yeah, the evil spreads through the town, thanks to that broadcast and it is up to Ash to sort things out… again.

Unlike the previous game, which was pretty dated and restrictive, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick is actually more open. It’s not full-on open-world stuff, but the areas in the game are partially explorable and not always on a linear path. In terms of the gameplay itself, it’s more like a 3D scrolling, hack ‘n slash game over a Resident Evil clone. There’s much more of an emphasis on action (and some light puzzle-solving), Ash is armed to the teeth with weapons to blow the Deadites away. There’s also a lot of interactions with the various residents and numerous characters through the game, they give Ash jobs to do that are added to your ‘to do list’.

EVIL DEAD FISTFULL OF BOOMSTICK SCREEN

While still a bit ropey and rough around the edges, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick is a vast improvement over the previous game. There’s just so much more to do and the game feels much more open. It may be nothing more than just a 3D scrolling beat ’em up, but it’s a pretty decent one overall and a far better use of The Evil Dead IP.

Evil Dead: Regeneration

EVIL DEAD REGENERATION

Released in 2005 from developer Cranky Pants Games and published by THQ (again), Evil Dead: Regeneration sets up a whole new timeline. Though still taking place after the events of the first two films (Army of Darkness never happened here), it actually changes and retells the events of Evil Dead II to form an alternate story. Instead of Ash being sent to medieval England, he is put in an insane asylum for killing all of his friends at Professor Knowby’s cabin. Ash’s doctor, Dr Reinhard, has gotten hold of the Necronomicon and wants to use the book’s evil to ‘reshape the world’ (his words). So of course, Dr Reinhard reads from the book, unleashes the evil and it is up to Ash to clean things up… again… again.

As with the last game, this is a hack ‘n slash type of game with a few minor puzzles. Ash taking out Deadites with an arsenal of weapons. The game mechanics are simple and shallow, but really damn satisfying nonetheless. There is one gameplay mechanic that is both brilliant and brilliantly annoying, Sam. See, quite early on in the game, Ash meets Sam and Sam is a twisted experiment of Dr Reinhard. He’s an undead, half-human half-Deadite. Sam (voiced by Ted Raimi) is used to help Ash in his quest and can be abused and killed over and over again as he regenerates (title!).  It has been said that the Sam character is named after the director of the films, Sam Raimi, and the fact that you can kick, punish and kill him so much in the game is payback for all the times that Sam Raimi (lovingly) punished Bruce Campbell when making the films.

EVIL DEAD REGENERATION SCREEN

Overall, this is the best Evil Dead game made so far. It’s hardly high art and its mechanics are basic hack ‘n slash stuff. Yet, it is still really damn good fun to play. The interactions between Ash and Sam are genuinely funny, the locations in the game are varied and it all feels very Evil Dead. I think that most (if not all) Evil Dead and game fans would have this as their favourite Evil Dead game.

Army of Darkness: Defense

ARMY OF DARKNESS DEFENCE TITLE

There’s really not much to say about this one. It’s a very typical castle/tower defence game for mobile devices. You indirectly control Ash as he fights hordes of Deadties trying to steal the Necronomicon from the castle. You know the climactic final battle in Army of Darkness? This whole game is based on that scene. Use Ash and various troops to take on the relentless Deadites. Earn upgrades, power-up Ash and your troops upgrade the castle, take on more Deadites. Rinse and repeat for several hours.

ARMY OF DARKNESS DEFENCE SCREEN

This is not a very involving game, but to be honest, very few castle/tower defence games are. Still, for this sub-genre, Army of Darkness: Defense is perfectly fine. Unlike the previous games (with the exception of the 1984 game), Bruce Campbell doesn’t voice Ash directly in this game, but speech samples are ripped straight from the film instead. So technically, Bruce is still voicing Ash, I guess? As far as I am aware, this game is no longer available to download (licensing issues I believe)… or perhaps that should read that Army of Darkness: Defense is no longer available to ‘legally’ download…


And that is it for all of The Evil Dead games. For a franchise as loved as it is, the games side of things really let it down. It’s not that they’re bad, because they’re not. All of those games up there are certainly playable. But it is more a case of that there just haven’t been enough games based on the IP over the years. There’s a lot of scope there to explore too, what with portals, time travel and as Evil Dead: Regeneration proved, alternate timelines and stories to play around with. They could’ve made so many more games and had a lot of fun along the way. But that is the lot, a very basic survival horror game from 1984, a very average Resident Evil clone, a couple of hack ‘n slash titles and a castle/tower defence mobile title in forty years since the first film. That is a pretty weak lineup for such a much-loved franchise.

Okay, so there are a couple of quick games I need to mention before I end this one.

Poker Night 2

POKER NIGHJT 2

Released in 2014 from Telltale Games was Poker Night 2. This was a… wait for it… a poker game. You remember back when everyone and their mother’s were playing poker? Anyway, the game featured four characters from other franchises and one of those characters was Ash Williams.

Now, you couldn’t play as Ash (or any of the other characters), you just played poker against him. In Poker Night 2, Ash was in full-on Army of Darkness mode, cocky, arrogant and full of one-liners. For the first time in a game (excluding the 1984 one), Ash was not voiced by Bruce Campbell but by Danny Webber instead. This was actually a pretty decent poker game with quite a few unlockable extras.

Evil Dead: The Game

EVIL DEAD THE GAME

Then finally, there is this. As yet unreleased and now delayed twice. Evil Dead: The Game will be a multiplayer co-op and PvP game. The most recent delay is said to be because the developers want to include a single-player mode. Looking very much like a Friday the 13th: The Game, Dead by Daylight asymmetrical type of thing. Taking assets from the entire Evil Dead franchise from the first film through to the TV show (I don’t think the 2013 remake is included). 

It looks like you can play as either the good guys or the Kandarian demons. I’d expect some heavy team playing here with different characters having to use their strengths and weakness to take out the opposing team. I’ve actually had a review code request for Evil Dead: The Game since December 2020 when it was originally announced. Hopefully, I’ll get it and can do a review when the game is finally released early 2022… if it’s not delayed… again.

I have more The Evil Dead groovyness coming up all through October to celebrate, not just the awesome franchise, but Halloween too.

My Entire GamesMaster Retrospective

Back in January of 2020, I thought that it would be a good idea to cover the nineties gaming TV show GamesMaster in its entirety. All seven series over seven years and a hundred and twenty-six episodes. To be honest, I didn’t actually think about just how much work would have to go into it. Watching over 3,400 minutes of a TV show… and that’s if I only watched each episode one… I didn’t. I would watch each episode once and take a few notes, watch each episode again as I typed up the first draft of each article, then watch each episode for a third (sometimes fourth) time as I edited each article. Just to ensure I got as much right as I could. So yeah, that’s over 10,000 minutes of GamesMaster that I had to watch to get this thing done, then a shit-load of typing to put the words (I’ve not counted so don’t ask how many) on the page, so to speak. In short, it took a while. From January 2020 to July 2021 in fact. This is the longest retrospective I have ever done… and I once wrote a history of horror films from 1896 to the modern day!

Well, now that my GamesMaster retrospective is done, I thought I’d put it all together in one place for easier reading. Saves people searching or clicking about on my blog to find it all. So here you go, just give each link a click to open a new window for each and every article of my GamesMaster retrospective.

GAMESMASTER

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Introduction

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series One

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Two, Part One

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Two, Part Two

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Three, Part One

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Three, Part Two

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Four, Part One

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Four, Part Two

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Five, Part One

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Five, Part Two

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Six, Part One

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Six, Part Two

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Seven

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Dave Perry vs Mario 64

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Seven

And I’ve made it. This has been a long journey, one I began back on the 30th of January last year, with my introduction and first-ever article covering GamesMaster. When I came up with the idea for this retrospective, I forgot how big in length this show was. My very jaded memory remembered it as only being six to eight episodes per series. So I admit that I got a bit overwhelmed with just how many episodes there were, especially with series two and three’s epic twenty-six episodes apiece.

Still, I was adamant that I would finish what I started, well over a year ago now. Finally here, at the last ever series of GamesMaster and looking back, I’ve honestly really enjoyed doing this whole thing. I’ve not watched the show since it first aired back in 1992. So, to go through every series, every episode has been a fantastic trip down memory lane. But before I get too sentimental (there’s time for that at the end of this), I need to cover the final ten episodes of this groundbreaking show. Yup, just ten episodes to cover. So no need to split this one into two parts. Plus the final episode is just a compilation of GamesMaster’s best bits too. So there are really only nine proper episodes.

And so, ’tis the end. A hundred and twenty-six episodes, seven series and spanning seven years. GamesMaster was the ultimate gaming TV show, a show that kickstarted a slew of copycats through the nineties and beyond. The likes of Games World, Games Republic, Bad Influence to name a few, all owe a great debt to GamesMaster.

DOMINIK THUMBS

As I said previously, when I started this retrospective, I forgot how big in length GamesMaster was. I had plans to cover much more than just the episodes. I wanted to take a look at some behind the scenes stories, and such. In fact, the whole Mario 64-gate and Dave Perry’s infamous strop was the entire reason for this retrospective being written. See originally, I just wanted to write an article covering the whole Mario 64-gate thing and offer my own perspective on what I think happened. However, I thought in order to get the story across, I should do a background article on the history of GamesMaster just to give readers some perspective. That turned into a general intro of the show and from there, I just felt like covering every episode. Anyway, I still wanted to do those behind the scenes stories and cover the whole Mario 64-gate.

It was when I was about halfway through covering series four last year, when I realised that there’s never been a GamesMaster book. I write books, I already had (or soon would) every episode of every series covered. I have various pieces of research that I’ve done to cover other GamesMaster related subjects. So, why not just write a history of GamesMaster book? Cover as much as I can and cram it into a lovely book. So yeah that’s what I’m doing now. I’m not sure when this will be finished, to be honest, the biggest part (the episodes) are already done due to this retrospective. I’ll be adding more info about each episode in the finished book though. Then I just need to write up the other stuff I’ve researched and I’ll have the first draft of my GamesMaster book done. Give me twelve months or so and I’ll have a much better idea of where this book will be. But regardless, it’s coming.

Quick aside. I actually wrote a big chunk of this intro back in October of 2020 and back then, there wasn’t a GamesMaster book. Then Dominik Diamond himself announced an official GamesMaster book in early 2021 and got it funded on Kickstarter (the bastard). So where does that leave my idea of my own GamesMaster book? At the moment, I still really want to write it. I will be reading DD’s book when it is released, I’m sure his book will be very different to what I want to do. So as of writing, my GamesMaster book is on ice until I’ve read Dominick’s official one. After which, I’ll see if there’s still a market for mine and if I still want to write my GamesMaster book or not.

And with that lengthy intro out of the way, onto series seven.

Series Seven

Now, as I mentioned at the end of series six, there wasn’t supposed to be another series. Dominik Diamond himself even explains what happened in this chat that Derick, a beardy friend of mine did with the great man recently. And no, I’m not linking to the chat just because I’m mentioned in it… even if Derick forgot the name of my book, it’s MicroBrits by the way! And that’s not even the new one… This one is (buy both!). I’m linking to it as it’s a really good interview and plenty of GamesMaster is discussed, with some really great behind the scenes info being split.

Okay, enough plugging of my books and friend’s interviews. Anyway, the way DD tells the story is that after series six ended, that was it, it was meant to be the end. No more series were being talked about and everyone said goodbye to GamesMaster. Then the broadcaster, Channel 4, called up the production team of GamesMaster and asked why they haven’t had any publicity guff for series seven. The team had to explain that there was no series seven, that was when Channel 4 said there is because they have GamesMaster series seven as scheduled to be aired in a few months. So that was it, the team got back together and (haphazardly) filmed series seven in a rush to get it to air.

Series seven aired between the 19th of December 1997 and the 3rd of February 1998. Filmed at the Hewland International’s TV studio in Brixton, where they also shot series five. The setting this time is a desert island. I’m not sure (story-wise) just how Dominik Diamond went from being in Atlantis from the previous series to an island here. The intro doesn’t really explain it either as it starts out with DD asleep on his couch while the TV plays an ad for a holiday in the background. We then enter Dominik’s dream/nightmare where he is running down a hallway towards a slowly closing door. Behind that door is the desert island. He just about makes it as the door closes and then DD is on the island with a couple of very attractive female castaways. Oh yeah, GamesMaster himself is now the sun!

GAMESMASTER SUN

See, the only thing I can work out from this inexplicable intro is that, from the ongoing story perspective that has linked all of the series so far… everything was a dream. It’s the only thing I can think of that can explain how Dominik went from being in Atlantis to being asleep on his couch… because he’s always been asleep on his couch. So, does that mean that none of the previous events really happened? Dominik Diamond was never in a church in series one presenting a video game TV show, he never died, was never sent to hell and heaven, etc. The entirety of GamesMaster, including this series, has it all been just a dream?

Episode One

The Two Big Tombs Of Lara Croft is the name of the first challenge of this new series. Playing Tomb Raider II (PC), two players, Jake and Paul have to finish a specially made custom level just for GamesMaster with the first to finish being the winner. As it is quite a long and challenging level, Jake and Paul had already started the game before the show began. Highlights and replays are shown before we catch up with where the challengers are up to at which point, Jake is slightly ahead. As the action continues, we catch up with the news. Mortal Kombat 4 (Arcade) gets a look at. The questionable movie sequel that is Alien: Resurrection gets previewed. Then finally, the pretty damn amazing and now, mostly forgotten game inspired by the movie, Blade Runner (PC) also gets previewed. Back to that Tomb Raider II challenge and Jake is still ahead but Paul has caught up quite a bit and is around a minute behind.

BLADE RUNNER

Dominik leaves Jake and Paul to get stuck into the first celebrity challenge of the series, and would you be surprised if I told you the celeb was as attractive 90s lass? Rampage World Tour (PlayStation 2) is GamesMaster’s pick and the challenger must earn 10,000 points within 90 seconds. Former glamour model Jo Guest is the celebrity for this one and of course, DD wastes no time in flirting with Jo. Still, there is a challenge to try and complete and Jo gets off to a decent but slow start, racking up 3,600 points in the first 30 seconds by smashing buildings and eating people. With 30 seconds left, Jo has 6,200 points… still quite a way off that 10,000 target and she needs to secure some big points to win. Just 10 seconds left and Jo score is 9,000, only needing to get 1,000 more. There are a few incidents, she gets lit on fire… the challenge ends with Jo scoring 10,200 points and 1 second on the clock to win the first golden joystick of series seven.

Catching up with The Two Big Tombs Of Lara Croft challenge once more and both Jake and Paul are stuck on the same part, trying to find a hidden key, with Paul just very slightly ahead. Then it’s time for some reviews. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) is given a whopping 90%. Then, Bomberman 64 (N64) is scored a reasonable 65%. This episode wraps up with the conclusion to The Two Big Tombs Of Lara Croft challenge. Paul is still in the lead, by quite a fair bit too. Unless he messes up in a huge way, he’s sure to win this one. He does too, quite comfortably, well ahead of Jake and Paul lifts the golden joystick.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Two

GamesMaster selects Mortal Kombat 4 (Arcade) for his first challenge, which is called Oi Bloke! Fiddle Around With My Character. Three peeps have to play the game and find the best, most brutal special moves. GamesMaster will then judge which is the best and award the golden joystick to the winner. The trio of challengers are Mark, Mikey and Neil. Mark goes first playing as Sub-Zero. The challenge is played through the episode but first, the news. There’s a very early preview of Sega’s then-current new console, the Dural… later to be called the Dreamcast. Celebrity from the last episode, Jo Guest gets her own ‘game’ with Love Bytes (PC), one of those virtual girlfriend type games that were shit. Then there’s a plug for a Quake II championship hosted through the GamesMaster website. Back to that Mortal Kombat 4 challenge and all three have now had a bash at trying to find some impressive special moves. A highlight reel shows Mikey playing as Jarek pull out a huge hammer and smack his opponent across the face with it. Neil using Quan Chi throws out a green skull projectile-type thing. Mark playing as Shinnok steals a few moves from other characters. Honestly, nothing too impressive at all right now.

Time for a celebrity challenge then and it is the rhythm button presser, PaRappa the Rapper (PlayStation) as the game here. The contestants have to finish the first level of the game with a ‘good’ or better rating. The British hip hop group Kaleef (it’s okay, I don’t remember them either) are two of the band’s members, DJ Oddball (not sure if that is his birth name or not) and Mush (actually is his birth name). Playing on a custom-made HUGE PlayStation pad, Oddball and Mush have to work together to get a ‘good’ rating. They get off to a great start and even reach the highest ‘cool’ rating. As the level progresses, it gets harder and harder, they soon slip down to a ‘good’ rating. They even drop further down to a ‘bad’ rating, before getting back up to ‘good’. They reach the final part of the level and maintain their ‘good’ rating throughout to win a golden joystick.

HUGE PS PAD

A quick recap of the Oi Bloke! Fiddle Around With My Character challenge and we are promised some great moves. Mikey as Quan Chi large mace attack (really not that great as promised). Mark playing as Reptile discovers a neck-breaking move (slightly more impressive). Then Neil using Scorpion shows off the first fatality move of the challenge, with a spinning throw to launch his opponent into a large industrial fan for some blood and gore action. A review or two next as Screamer Rally (PC) is given a very decent 88%. And Automobili Lamborghini (N64) is lambasted with a very deserved 57%. Time to finish up and find a winner for the episode length Mortal Kombat 4 challenge. All three challengers get to pick three of their best moves. Mikey as Fujin uses a tornado-type move, a crossbow weapon move and as Liu Kang, a dragon munching fatality. Neil using Scorpion shows off a four-hit arm-break, using Sonya, he then selects a rotary blade attack, finally as Shinnok, a giant skeleton hand squeezing fatality. Last up is Mark playing as Sub-Zero and his seven-hit combo, Raiden’s exploding electricity fatality and Tanya’s bone-crunching exploding kiss fatality. With all the best moves now shown off, GamesMaster picks his favourites. Mark is declared the winner for finding the most fatalities and is given a golden joystick.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Three

Three Big Men Get Hard is the snigger-worthy title of the first challenge. GamesMaster picks out an absolute classic for this one, GoldenEye 007 (N64). This is a three-part challenge where three contestants have to complete a specific challenge each, all within 4 minutes collectively. Tackling this one are actual bonafide Royal Marines, Del, Mark and Dave. Before that though, it’s news time again… a ‘news special’ in fact. The Nintendo Space World Expo is what’s being covered here and we get an exclusive look at some up and coming N64 titles. F-Zero X, Yoshi’s Story, 1080° Snowboarding, Banjo-Kazooie and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are all previewed for Nintendo’s console. Back to the three-part Three Big Men Get Hard challenge on GoldenEye 007. Del goes first and he has to save two hostages from the Frigate mission. Del gets off to a terrible start and shoots one of the hostages, inuring a 5 second penalty, he follows that up by shooting the second hostage too. With both hostages dead, he ‘technically’ finished the level… very badly, but finished it in 37 seconds. Add on 10 seconds for killing both hostages, and his finishing time is 47 seconds. I’m not sure if it was quicker to kill the hostages and pick up the 10 second penalty or waste time to save them, to be honest. Mark goes next and he has to drive a tank from the Streets mission and get to the end. He storms through the level, taking a lot of damage, but is it the time that is important. Mark does run over a civilian right at the end and picks up a 5 second penalty. Finishing the level with a (collective) time of 2 minutes. That leaves exactly 2 minutes for Dave to finish the final part of this three-part challenge. Dave is given the Train level where he has to save Natalya Simonova and use Bond’s watch-laser to cut through the train floor and escape. He’s a bit sloppy and wastes valuable seconds, by the halfway point, he gets a bit confused with all the weapon/gadget options and pulls out Bond’s watch-laser for no reason, wasting even more time. Dave does finally make it to Natalya, but instead of saving her, he lets her get killed, incurring another time penalty. Now with only 14 seconds left, he has to escape the train by cutting a hole in the floor… you already know he’s not going to do it don’t you? Challenge failed, the Royal Marines are hostage killing pussies.

GOLDENEYE CHALLENGE

Boxers Khalid Shafiq and Ryan Rhodes are the celebs punching each other in the face on Street Fighter EX (PlayStation). You know the score by now, best of three wins. Khalid paying as Ryu, while Ryan prefers Chun-Li. The first round is a fairly close fight, until Ryan begins to kick some serious arse as Chun-Li, leaving Khalid with very little health left. But he’s not going down easy as Khalid makes a staggering comeback and reduces Ryan to just a few hits of health left. Still, Ryan isn’t having any of that and goes on to win round one… just about. Round two is another close one with neither getting the better of the other. Khalid does get a slight edge and that is when Ryan fights back. This one really does go down to the wire but Khalid just about wins out in the end. With one apiece, it is on to the final round. Ryan gets off to a blistering start as Khalid’s Ryu just stands there, doing nothing while he takes a serious kicking from Chun-Li. With only a smidgen of health left, Khalid begins to fight back and puts up a great fight too. It’s just not enough though and Ryan takes the win and the golden joystick.

Anyway, review time and Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PlayStation) gets itself a rather nice 88%. Then Diddy Kong Racing (N64) is awarded a slightly lesser but still good 85%. Then that is it for this episode as Dominik disappears into his island hut with his two female castaways for a bit of the old naughty-naughties.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Four

It is Top Skater (Arcade) that is the game for the first challenge, which is called: Oi Bloke Get Off My Halfpipe. Three contestants have just 1 minute to score as many points as possible by pulling off tricks. Riyad, H (?) and Aki are the three hoping to (insert outdated skateboarding lingo here) the crap out of the game. Riyad goes first and scores a below-average 76,529 points. H (?) gets on the board next and finishes up with a very impressive 102,605 points. Lastly, Aki storms into the lead with a pretty ‘effing impressive 281,515 points to win the golden joystick… it wasn’t even close really. News time again and the sequel flick, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation gets a little preview. Alien: Resurrection (game on the PlayStation ,not the film) and Quake 64 (N64) both get a brief look at too.

SKATEBAORD CHALLENGE

Footie playing fellas, Christian Dailly and Sol Campbell are the celebrities taking each other on in the next challenge. The game is Sega Worldwide Soccer (Saturn) and Christian plays as Scotland while Sol favours England. Christian begins the first half fighting and gets a couple of attempts on goal. After a rather questionable tactic from Sol who (as his goalie) kicks the ball to one of his team, only to instantly kick the ball out and awarding a corner to Scotland, Christian tucks the first goal of the game away with ease. Sol doesn’t give up though and has several great attempts on goal, none of them go in, but they were great attempts. The first half ends 1 – 0 to Christian Dailly. The second half gets underway and after yet another goalkeeping flub (Sol kicks the ball directly to a Scotland player from a goal kick), Christian very easily put away another. With just 15 seconds left of the game, Sol scores for England to make it 2 – 1. There are litteral seconds left on the clock, can Sol Campbell force a draw? Nope, cos with just 5 seconds left, Christian scores again and the game ends 3 – 1 to Christian Dailly to win the golden joystick.

It’s the first feature of the series next and there’s a look at the Nintendo 64’s DD add-on. Anyone remember that? Probably not as it was only released in Japan in December 1999 and discontinued by February 2001. Hardly a long-lasting piece of hardware. Anyway, the DD was an add-on for the N64 that used rewritable data storage so users could customise and create their own 3D models, etc to create ‘interactive gaming’ (as Nintendo boasted)… it didn’t last and the DD was forgotten about almost as fast as Nintendo’s Virtual Boy. Most of the games in development for the DD had to be released on traditional Nintendo 64 cartridges with none of DD extras as the system was a complete commercial failure. That damp squib ends this episode.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Five

As is the tradition, it’s the GamesMaster Christmas special… with very little to do with Christmas. GamesMaster picks out Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PlayStation) as the game for the first challenge, which is lovingly called: If You Think This Is Hard Just Wait ‘Til You Hit Puberty. Here, the contestant must escape a rampaging polar bear and finish the level without losing a life. Alan is the main man for this one… well I say ‘man’ he is only 6-years-old. But before we can see just how Alan does, it’s time for the news. Dominik takes a look at a special Talk With Me Barbie doll which comes with all sorts of interactive software for your PC. You know something, this isn’t the first time DD has explored Barbie dolls on GamesMaster, I’m not judging… just relaying information. There’s a look at the then newly opened Sega Park in Harlow. A huge Sega centric arcade crammed with games. To finish, there’s also a preview of London’s first 3D IMAX cinema. Back to Alan and his If You Think This Is Hard Just Wait ‘Til You Hit Puberty challenge, which if he completes it, Dominik will give him a Christmas present. Alan does brilliantly and does a good job of tearing through the level while keeping that pesky polar bear at bay. Making tot the halfway point with some seriously impressive skills for a 6-year-old, things get tougher in the send half of the level. He does it to, getting to the end of the level to not only win a golden joystick, but also a Christmas present from Dominik, a Han Solo Star Wars figure. Now, I’m not one who enjoys pissing on a 6-year-old’s victory… but I’m pretty damn sure that Alan wasn’t actually playing the game. There are a couple of times when the camera cuts to Alan sitting in front of the TV with a PS pad in hand, yet it really doesn’t look like he’s actually playing. I already know that GamesMaster isn’t always 100% truthful when it comes to these challenges. I’m fairly confident that this was just done as a bit of lighthearted entertainment.

CRASH WIN

Moving on, it’s review time… only there are no reviews to speak of. Instead, a couple of GamesMaster reviewers pick out some of their favourite games to play over the festive season. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (PC), Blade Runner (PC), GoldenEye 007 (N64), Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) and PaRappa the Rapper (PlayStation) all get recommended. Aussie soap opera actress Emma Harrison is the celeb tackling the next challenge. Rapid River (Arcade) is the game here and Emma has to paddle her way along an obstacle-filled level to reach the end. Falling off waterfalls and smashing into rocks, Emma actually does pretty well. Then she gets caught up in a whirlpool and fails the challenge. Still, I’m sure Dominik enjoyed watching an attractive blond female jiggle about on a dinghy.

SEXY FEMALE CHALLNGE 1

Another feature ends this episode and the rather awesome Starship Troopers film is previewed. As this series was quickly thrown together as previously mentioned, DD didn’t get to travel the world interviewing any of the attractive cast like before, and just yaks on about the film over its trailer. And this ends the GamesMaster Christmas special that had nothing to do with Christmas.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Six

Motocross Go! (Arcade) is the game for the Buff My Helmet For Extra Speed challenge. Simple bike racing stuff here and tackling this race are two real-life motocross racers, Paul and Justin. But before that, of course, news. Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation) is previewed. The Pocket Camera (Game Boy Camera outside of Japan) is also shown and footie game LiberoGrande (Arcade) from Namco is hyped up. Back to the challenge where Paul and Justin are battling it out to be the first person to cross the finish line. There’s a lot of sliding about in the mud and OTT jumps as Justin takes the lead in the race. Paul soon gets himself in front and the two racers really do fight it out on the track. When Paul goes a bit too wide on a corner and has a nasty crash, Justin regains the lead. It’s actually a close race and three’s lot of jostling for position between the two. But it is Justin who takes the win and the golden joystick in the end.

Yoshi’s Story (N64) get a rather impressive 93%, while Shadow Master (PlayStation) is given a more than decent 89% in the reviews. If you have been paying attention to the format of the show, then you already know that it is celebrity challenge time. GamesMaster has chosen the very strange party game Poy Poy (PlayStation) for some four-player action. The quartet taking this one on are girl band Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis, Nicole and Natalie Appleton collectively known as All Saints. The four lasses have to pick up items (in the game) and throw them at each other until only one is left standing. Shaznay is the first to go out, followed by Melanie, leaving the two Appleton sisters to battle it out. After taking a bomb to the face, Natalie goes out and Nicole is declared the winner.

SEXY FEMALE CHALLNGE 2

This episode’s finale feature looks at the film sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Yes, Dominik takes great pleasure in perving over the females in the film as the feature is intercut with interviews pre-recorded by the cast and crew. Of course, the film would go on to be utter bum-cheeks and very much hated among film and game fans.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Seven

Only four more episodes left now as the grand finale of GamesMaster draws ever closer. I’ll Move That Gear Stick Manually, If You Don’t Mind is the title of the first challenge and it is on Gran Turismo (PlayStation). The contestants have to race around a track in the game and the fastest time wins. John Paul, Ian and Aaron, who are the top three national gamesplayer championships players (apparently) are the trio taking this one on. First up (as is the norm), it’s the news. The interactive CD ROM of the god awful Spice World: The Movie (PC) is given a brief, but still too long, bit of attention. Mad Racers, a (then) new 3D motion simulator ride is also looked at. Finally, there’s a butchers at a hands-free controller from a US company called Bio-Controller, various sensors are placed on the body (head, arms, etc) and the game reacts to your movements. Like all of those early non-controller controllers, it was shit. John Paul is up first to put in a fast lap on the I’ll Move That Gear Stick Manually, If You Don’t Mind challenge. He does well, but does go wide on a couple of corners, scraping the scenery a few times and loses a few very valuable tenths of seconds, John Paul crosses the line with a beatable time of 1:26:254. Ian is next and he gets off to a bad start with too much wheelspin, his racing is much smoother though and he ends up with a very good but still beatable 1:23:956. Aaron is last and has a rough few first corners, going off more than once, the latter part of the track also proves to be problematic with more bad corner taking, Aaron eventually finishes with a time of 1:27:797. Meaning Ian wins the golden joystick. I have to  make a quick observation here. Gran Turismo was a driving sim, for the time, a very accurate one too. But all three of the contestants chose an outside view instead of the better in-car one. Maybe it’s just me but I always found Gran Turismo far better to play with the in-car view.

GRAN TURISMO

A couple of more reviews as the brilliant but overlooked Nightmare Creatures (PlayStation) gets 90%. Then the beat ’em up Bloody Roar (PlayStation) is given a very decent 84%. The bizarre Armadillo Racing (Arcade) is the game for the celebrity challenge, a game where you (as the title suggests) race armadillos, whoever crosses the line first wins. Sarah Vandenbergh and Carryl Varley, two TV presenters that no one remembers these days, are the couple racing their armadillos against each other in a bast of three type scenario. It’s a bit of a madcap race as all sorts of obstacles get in the way of the girls and they bump and fall off the track numerous times. Still, after a bit of jostling and being bent over an arcade cabinet, Sarah wins the first race. The second race kicks off and it is just as crazy, it’s also a very close race with Sarah winning only literal inches ahead of Carryl. Still, with two wins, Sarah Vandenbergh wins the golden joystick.

SEXY FEMALE CHALLNGE 3

Finishing with a feature again and there’s a look at some new arcade games in Japan. The winter sports-themed racer Winter Heat from Sega. Namco’s Downhill Bikers, a mountain bike racer. And Ehrgeiz, a beat ’em up from Namco and Square all get a looked at.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Eight

The Oi, Raptor Bring Back My Leg challenge kicks off this episode. GamesMaster selects the light gun game The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Arcade) and the contestants have to finish the entire game with only one credit. Oliver and Tammy are the eager dinosaur hunters hoping to win a golden joystick. The pair get stuck into the and shoot many raptors in the face as they make their way through the first stage… then the action is interrupted by a news special. The boat show in London has F1 driver Nigel Mansell endorsing VR Sports Powerboat Racing (PlayStation), cos you know F1 and powerboat racing are pretty much the same thing. There’s a sneak peek at James Cameron’s Titanic film ahead of its release. Bizarre shoot-shooty game H.E.D.Z.: Head Extreme Destruction Zone (PC) is also looked at. Back to the dinosaur shooting now and Oliver and Tammy are taking on a T-Rex in an and of stage boss fight type thing. Moving onto stage two and there are rampaging Brachiosaurus they have to deal with., while this episode’s celebrity challenge gets underway.

SEXY FEMALE CHALLNGE 4

In an unprecedented turn of events, the celeb is an attractive female, what a shock! TV presenter/model/actress Catalina Guirado is playing Rosco McQueen Firefighter Extreme (PlayStation). Catalina has to clear fires from two rooms in the game without losing a life and exit, all in 2:30 minutes. Catalina gets stuck in and clears the first room with 1:18 still on the clock. The second room is cleared too, but with only 14 seconds left, cutting this one very close as Catalina exits the level with just 5 seconds left to win a golden joystick. Back to the Oi, Raptor Bring Back My Leg challenge and  a quick highlight reel of what we’ve missed shows Oliver and Tammy finish stage two, but both of them have lost two of their four hits as they start level three. Before we see how they do, it’s review time. Panzer Dragoon Saga (Saturn) is given 87%. Then controversial shooter Postal (PC) gets 85%.

As the episode nears its end, Oliver and Tammy are still shooting dinos in the face and on the final stage. Both of them have now lost another life each, meaning they can only take one more hit each, and they are on the final T-Rex boss fight too. The T-Rex grabs both of them a few times, yet they do manage to escape without losing their final life. After a close battle, the T-Rex goes down, Oliver and Tammy (just barely) win a golden joystick.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Nine

Tekken 3 (Arcade) is the game for the challenge called Oi Bloke From Another Country, Are You Starting? A selection of challengers from around the world to battle it out to be crowned the king of Tekken. Oystein (Norway), Jeff (USA), Sho (Japan) and Ryan (UK) are the players wanting to claim Tekken glory. Six fights, every contestant fight everyone else once in a classic best of three rounds fight. 3 points awarded to the winner and 0 points for a loss, whoever has the most points at the end of all six fights is the winner. There is also a bout difference (kind of like goal difference in football) with whoever lost the fewer bouts being the winner if there is a tie-break situation. The first fight is Oystein playing as Heihachi vs Ryan as Paul. Oystein really kicks Ryan arse in the first round, only for Ryan to stage a late comeback and win the first bout. Round two is closer and Oystein only just about wins it. Two rounds each and time runs out in the third and final round, with Oystein the winner as he had more health. 3 points to Oystein. Jeff as Law vs Sho playing as Tiger next and Sho wins the first round fairly easily. Jeff doesn’t mess around and wins the next round, making it one apiece. On to the final round which Jeff wins to secure himself 3 points. The table looks like this:

TEKKEN TABLE

Next, it is Jeff as Nina vs Ryan as Paul. Ryan takes the first round without breaking into a sweat. He wins the second round too and lands himself 3 very much need points. Sho playing as Eddy vs Oystein as Heihachi up next. Round one goes to Sho very easily, almost as if Oystein wasn’t even playing. Round two also goes to Sho and quite frankly, he completely embarrassed Oystein. With each of the players winning one fight each, it goes down to bout difference to decide who is top of the table… after the celebrity challenge. Guess what, it’s a couple of attractive lasses (again) as models Debbie Flett and Emma Noble have to play Final Furlong (Arcade). Strangely enough, this game involves the ladies straddling two horse-like peripherals where they have to jiggle about a lot. Whoever crosses the finish line first wins. Emma takes the lead early doors and doesn’t let up, as Debbie tries her best to catch up. As they round the bend to the final straight, it’s really neck and neck as both Debbie and Emma fight to win… while jiggling about a lot. Debbie wins by mere inches and lifts the golden joystick.

SEXY FEMALE CHALLNGE 5

A touch of news, why not? Resident Evil 2 (PlayStation) is previewed ahead of its Japanese release. Then it is back to the Tekken 3 championship and given the bout difference and the fact each of the players won one fight each, the table looks like this:

TEKKEN TABLE 2

So the final two fights to decide the winner get underway and it is Jeff as Nina vs Oystein as Heihachi first. Oystein wins the first round but Jeff takes the second, one round each. The final round goes to Jeff after a very close fight. The final fight sees Sho as Eddy vs Ryan as Paul. The first round is a close on but Ryan takes it in the end. But Sho takes the next round really quite easy too. This is seriously close stuff as we go into the final round of the final fight… which Sho wins by wiping the floor with Ryan. After all of that excitement (honestly, it was a damn good little championship), Sho is declared the Tekken 3 champion and takes home a golden joystick. And that was it, the last ever GamesMaster challenge, but not the last ever episode.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Ten

There’s not really too much to say about this episode. It is just a compilation of the ‘best bits’ of GamesMaster from series one through to series seven as studio hands take down the set. Not really worth me going into detail here as I have written an entire retrospective looking at every single episode of the show. Though there are some funny outtakes shown. Still, this episode does works as a nice little look back over the years of what was, and still is, the greatest video game TV show ever made.

DOM BYE

Golden joysticks won – 0
Total golden joysticks won – 16


Overall

So yeah, this series really was a bit ’empty’. As I mentioned in the intro and as Dominik Diamond himself explained, there never was going to be a series seven. It was just kind of thrown together at the last minute… and it really shows too. The shortest series since the first, only that one had ten full episodes. This had nine partly filled episodes and a compilation episode. There was no globetrotting for DD, no getting on the sets of movies and interviewing the stars, etc. Just a very quickly thrown together series.

Anyway, this is the end of my gargantuan GamesMaster retrospective. It’s been a hell of a journey and I could try to sum it all up in a few lines here. But, the truth is that Dominik Diamond already did a perfect job of just that when he signed off the final episode by saying:

“So that’s it. I would like to personally thank the many talented people that have worked on this show, they will all go onto bigger things but somehow, none of them will feel as self-indulgent as GamesMaster. I know some people might have thought it’s been flippant, to some people it might seem as if it’s been in bad taste. But it was made with the total conviction that to you the viewers, it meant something. So I guess really, now with the last leg of the last series, I should come up with the funniest gag in the history of GamesMaster but… I can’t.”

Honestly, when Dominik Diamond delivered that little speech at the very end of the final episode, it genuinely did feel like it was the end of an era. He wasn’t talking as Dominik Diamond the cheeky host of GamesMaster, he was talking as Dominik Diamond, a bloke saying goodbye. There was no joke, no double entendre, no pithy remarks. Just a fade to black and the credits silently rolled. Followed by a scene of the GamesMaster himself, Patrick Moore leaving the studio and getting in a taxi.

PATRICK

It was the end and it really was quite emotional too. This was our show, a show we gamers loved and cherished from the very first episode to the very last… and it was gone.

There has been talk of GamesMaster returning soon. Earlier this year, the news began to spread that Channel 4 were rebooting the series with Patrick Stewart as the GamesMaster. The format is to be modernised, but still feature gaming challenges, etc and it also sounds more celebrity focused too… probably a lot less letching over attractive females though. There has been no updates on this since February this year. Seeing as we are halfway through the year and that they wanted the show to return this year… I think the fact there hasn’t been any news for months does not bode well.

Entire golden joysticks won over all seven series – 207 (including 4 special joysticks)

Okay, so it’s not quite the end as I’ve got just one more GamesMaster article for you. I really want to look into the whole Dave Perry vs Super Mario 64 thing and draw my own conclusions, twenty-odd years after the event.

My Raiders At 40 Celebration… All Of It

In case you missed it, I spent June of this year celebrating Raiders of the Lost Ark turning 40-years-old. I put together a rather large collection of articles covering various Raiders and Indiana Jones subjects. Four decades of Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. which took a lot of research, writing and editing to get it all done. As there were so many articles, I thought that I could put them all together in one place so they were easier to find.

So here they are, all ten articles all in one place. Just give each link a click and the articles will open up in their own window for your convenience and reading pleasure.

Raiders At 40: An Indiana Jones Games Retrospective

A look at every Indiana Jones video game ever released.

Raiders At 40: Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Plot Hole

Was Indy irrelevant in his own film?

Raiders At 40: Indy Rip-Offs

Several films that jumped on the Raiders bandwagon.

Raiders At 40: Movie Sequels We Never Got: The ‘Other’ Third Indiana Jones Film… And More

An interesting look at several Indiana Jones films that were never made.

Raiders At 40: The Future Of Indiana Jones?

I ponder what the future holds for the Indy franchise after Indy 5.

Raiders At 40: Behind The Boulder

I explore the famed opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark and discover and interesting inspiration.

Raiders At 40: Is Indiana Jones A Paedophile?

There’s a fan theory floating around the internet that Indy and Marion’s relationship may not have been ‘legal’. 

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part One

The first part looking at the making of Raiders concentrates on the conception and pre-production.

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part Two

Part two of the making of Raiders explores the shooting of the film.

Raiders At 40: Creating A Legend, Part Three

The final part looking at the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark covers post-production and the film’s release.

Raiders At 40: An Indiana Jones Games Retrospective

On the 12th of June 1981, the world was introduced to Indiana Jones. This month marks forty years since Raiders of the Lost Ark was originally released in cinemas and so, I’m doing a huge, multi-article celebration to mark this anniversary. Through June, I’ll be publishing a different Indiana Jones article exploring various aspects of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones in general.

The year following the release of Raiders, and the first Indiana Jones game was unleashed. For the first part of my (huge) Raiders at 40 celebrations, I’m going to take a look at every Indy (that’s Indy, not indie) game released. I’m setting myself a handful of rules though. Official Indy games only, no Facebook or mobile tappy-tap games, no Young Indiana Jones titles either (though there will be a quick mention of these at the end). The games don’t have to have been based on the movies, they just have to star adult Henry Walton Jones Jr. No fan-made games, officially licenced Indy games only. Looking at my list and notes… There’s a lot more than I originally thought. This is gonna be a big ‘un, so I’m just glossing over the games and not going into too much depth. I’ll post links to YouTube playthroughs of the games, if I can find them, so you can see as many of the games in action as possible. Just give the main titles a clicky-click. An advanced thanks to any YouTubers I link to.

And with that out of the way, here is my Indiana Jones games retrospective.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)

RAIDERS 2600

As previously mentioned, Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari 2600 was the first-ever Indiana Jones video game. Some even say it was the very first movie tie-in game too… though I have doubts over that claim (read my new gaming book for more details). Anyway, Raiders was really quite revolutionary at the time as games back then were just about getting a high score. But Raiders of the Lost Ark actually had an ending to reach. It very loosely followed the plot of the film and had you playing as Indy trying to find the Ark of the Covenant. Full of puzzles to solve and really got you thinking like Indy himself. A true revolution in terms of gameplay back in the day and the grandfather of action-adventure games.

Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom (1985)

Even though the next film in the franchise was released in 1984, an entirely new and original game was released before the one based on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom hit shop shelves. Released on the Commodore 64, this one told the story of Indy having to try to retrieve an artefact to unlock the mysteries of the civilization that once lived in the titular lost kingdom. Set over six different rooms, each with its own set of very tricky puzzles to solve. Notoriously hard and massively unfair. The box proudly boasted on the front that: ‘Nobody told Indiana Jones the rules. And no one will tell you’. You know what, that box wasn’t lying either. The game came with no instructions, no hints, no rules,… Nothing. You just had to play and work it all out as you went. You had to use logic to solve each of the rooms and their puzzles, a bit like Indy I guess?

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1985)

TEMPLE OF DOOM ARCADE FLYER

This arcade hit only used the finale of the film for its action. Split over three different gameplay styles/levels.  First up, you have to save the enslaved children while whipping the crap out of Thuggee guards and snakes in a multi-directional scrolling stage. Next, it’s the famed minecart chase from the flick. Using an isometric viewpoint, as Indy, you have to navigate the mine track while smacking bad guys with your whip. Then it’s on to the final stage where you have to grab one of the Sankara Stones. Repeat this three times, increasing in difficulty every time, and the fourth playthrough sends you to a bonus stage set on the bridge from the flick. This one was simple but really fun arcade action that saw a lot of ports to pretty much every popular machine at the time. The NES version added a few bells and whistles, but also removed a lot of the arcade gameplay due to the limitations of the NES console.

Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients (1987)

Released on the Apple II computer and MS-DOS, this game featured box art that used images from the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom flick, but had nothing to do with the film at all. This one was a text-based adventure game No graphics here, just pure text from start to end. If you like black screens and a lot of white text, then this is the game for you. When done well, text-adventure games can be really damn great, see Zork as proof. Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients is very, very, very ‘meh’ at best. These text games were quick and cheap to make, which is why there were so many of them back in the early eighties… Only this wasn’t the early eighties. For a game from 1987, this felt very dated. Perhaps that was the Revenge of the Ancients that the title alluded to?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game (1989-1992)

Things are going to get a little confusing now as there were multiple games released based on the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade flick… yet several of them were very different. I’m starting with this action game which was released on pretty much every 8 and 16-bit console and home computer over several years. Set over only four levels, which are loosely based on scenes from the film. Starting out as young Indy trying to obtain the Cross of Coronado as a boy scout. The game then jumps to the Venetian catacombs where older Indy searches for Sir Richard’s tomb, from there, Indy has to climb Castle Brunwald in Germany… That’s not two different levels by the way. You go from Venice to Germany via a simple bit of rope climbing in one level. The third stage has Indy onboard a zeppelin trying to find pages of the grail diary before escaping. Then it’s on to the final level in the Grail Temple as Indy tries to nab the Holy Grail. Overall, this was a very average action-platformer with some pretty large difficulty spikes.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (1989-1992)

LAST CRUSADE ADVENTURE

The second game based on the third film in the franchise, only this is no average action-platformer, this is Lucasfilm Games point ‘n click adventure greatness. Once more, this was released on multiple platforms over a few years. Following the film very closely, but also throwing in a bit of creative license too. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure is just sublime. Lucasfilm Games were kings of the point ‘n click adventure games and this was one of their finest. This featured multiple different paths you could take and different endings too. You could follow the film really damn closely, even using exact dialogue from the flick, but you could also take a slightly different route and experience things not seen in the film too. One of the best point ‘n click games as well as one of the finest Indy titles.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1991)

Supposedly released in 1991 according to all sources, but the credits screen for the game states 1990. Anyway, this is the third game based on the third movie. Just like the first one, this too is an all-action title, but only released on the NES. It’s also very different from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game, as in it’s actually pretty good. Following the film far more closely than that other action game. Featuring pretty decent cutscenes (for the NES) with the likenesses of the actors from the film. Plus multiple choices to make in terms of the levels for which order you play them in.  A very short game with only four stages, with a mix of platforming action and some (very) light puzzle solving. This is not as great as the previous point ‘n click adventure game, but it’s a damn sight better than the action game though.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game (1992)

At the time, it looked like there would be no more Indy films. But while his cinematic adventures seemingly came to an end, Indiana Jones still had plenty of life in video games in the guise of all-new adventures. This one was an isometric thing that involved a lot of walking around while punching and whipping people in the face. I’m not sure why this was called an ‘action game’ when it featured less action than previous action games. This one is bad, really, really bad. So bad that most Indy fans have long forgotten about it or just blacked it out from their memory. It can’t get any worse, can it?

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992)

FATE OF ATLANTIS

Oh yeah, there was another one. Same title, same year… same shit? Thankfully no. This was another one of those classic point ‘n click adventure games. But not just another point ‘n click adventure game. The greatest, most sublime, fantastic, beautifully crafted point ‘n click adventure game ever made. With three different paths to follow that takes you on three varying routes through the game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is the absolute pinnacle of the graphic adventure genre. The game met with massive critical acclaim too, garnering 90+% and 9/10 scores from reputable gaming magazines. For me, this is the best Indy game ever made. Wonderful characters, a brilliant plot, three different routes to take and most importantly, it feels very Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures (1994)

Taking all three of the then Indiana Jones trilogy flicks, and balling them all up into one game. Platforming action, mixed with a little bit of vehicle usage and even a smattering of puzzle-solving. Then all linked via, digitised from the films, cutscenes. This is one of the best platformers on the SNES, all of the major scenes from all three of the flicks are represented and represented really well too. Famed for being devilishly hard but it really is one of the best Indiana Jones games of its time. Very much recommended as a wonderful slice of 16-bit platforming action.

Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures (1996)

DESKTOP ADVENTURES

There were a couple of these ‘Desktop Adventures’ games, the other one was based around Yoda from Star Wars. Anyway, this was the first one and it was a cute little distraction of a game. Everything was randomly generated each time you played, and the game boasted that there were ‘literally billions of games’ contained in this one title. Each adventure would last around an hour or so and they were crammed with puzzles, characters and more to discover. Aimed to be played when on a break from work, etc, much like other desktop games such as Solitaire or Minesweeper. Very much aimed at a more casual gamer, Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures was a great little distraction.

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (1999)

The Tomb Raider series that catapulted Lara Croft into the gaming limelight was massive in the late nineties. A lot of studios wanted to get in on that popularity and Tomb Raider clones began to appear. Even LucasArts wanted a slice of that Tomb Raider pie when they made this game. Of course, the fact that Tomb Raider was massively inspired by Indiana Jones in the first place kind of makes things come full circle. But yeah, this is basically Tomb Raider with Indiana Jones, it’s an okay game, above average at best. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine feels a little clunky at times and some of the platforming elements feel a bit janky. Still, it is worth a play.

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (2003)

EMPEROR'S TOMB

More third-person, Tomb Raider-like action again. This one plays far superior to the previous Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine though. Indy controls better and far smoother, there are more moves and interactions, the levels are less blocky and more interesting. Really, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is rather good all told. It feels very Indiana Jones, it respects the franchise and its fans. The whole game feels and sounds very authentic too. Plus there’s a really good fight mechanic where you can kick bad guys in the nards.

Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (2008)

I really do love these Lego games. I know they are all basically the same thing but with a different IP, yet I still find them really damn playable. This one covers the first three films of the franchise, all done with a brilliant sense of humour. Famed scenes from the films are re-created using the Lego models and given a new, funny spin. With a tonne of secrets and characters to unlock, there’s a lot of game here to enjoy and a lot of fun in two-player too.

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (2009)

This was another one of those Tomb Raider-like titles, a very average one at that too. Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings had multiple different ports and all of them had slight differences. While the basic gameplay and story was the same, each of the ports had a few little differences. The ‘best’ version of the game was on the Nintendo Wii, not because it was a great port but just because it included the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis graphic adventure as a bonus. A far better game given as a bonus in a very average one.

Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (2009)

LEGO INDY 2

Yes, the Lego blocks are back and yes, this is pretty much more of the same… but it’s still damn fun. This game uses Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as its main setting and plot, yet it still includes levels based on the first three films too. Still with that cheeky, tongue-in-cheek humour and simple but enjoyable gameplay. Much like the previous Lego Indy game, this one is worth playing too.


And that is it for the main Indiana Jones games. As of writing, it has been twelve years since there has been a major Indy game, until… this.

Bethesda and Machine Games are working on an all-new Indiana Jones game. Very little is known of what the game will be about or even what genre of game it will be. Info on the game is harder to find than the Holy Grail. Still, with the team that rebooted the Wolfenstein franchise, really damn well too, I’m hoping this untitled Indy game will be well worth the more than a decade wait.


Now, I did say in the into that I would give a few other smaller, non-main Indiana Jones games a quick mention. So here we go.

There were a few games based on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show. There was The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992) released on the NES. It was typical 8-bit, side-scrolling, platform-action fare, a bit Castlevania-like I guess, it was okay. Instruments of Chaos starring Young Indiana Jones (1994) was released on the Sega Mega Drive. A rather below average and very clunky platformer. There were a few educational Indy games included with The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (rebranded from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) DVD box sets. These included The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Revolution, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Special Delivery and The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Hunting for Treasure. All released on PC between 2007 and 2008.

Yes, there was even a game or two based exclusively on the fourth flick too. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) was one of those tappy-tap mobile games. The trailer can be found here. I never played it myself, but from what I gather, it was terrible. Indiana Jones (2008) was released on the Didj Custom Gaming System. This was a handheld console aimed at kids, mainly used for education, mainly teaching maths. I couldn’t find much about the game itself, but I know it was based on the fourth film.

LOST PUZZLES

Indiana Jones and the Lost Puzzles (2009) was another tappy-tap mobile game. Trailer right here if you really want to see what it was like. Then the last Indiana Jones game released to date was Indiana Jones Adventure World (2011). A Facebook-based social game that was just a rebranding of a previous Facebook game. Yes, here’s a trailer too.


Indy had had quite a career in gaming over the last thirty-nine years. From that first digital adventure with Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Atari 2600, way back in 1982, to that Facebook thing Indiana Jones Adventure World thing. The games have differed vastly in quality and content, with more missing the feeling of being Indiana Jones than understanding the character. As I already said, the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis adventure game from 1992 is still the best Indy game there has ever been. LucasFilm Games have remastered and updated a few of their classic point ‘n click games recently. So if you don’t mind LucasFilm Games…

As for the new game from Bethesda and Machine Games? I’m being quietly optimistic. Machine Games really did a fantastic job of rebooting the Wolfenstein franchise. I think the Indy IP is in more than capable hands. I just hope this new title isn’t just a FPS as that would be missing the tone and character of Indiana Jones by quote a fair bit. I hope for an action-packed, puzzle-filled adventure game. But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

INDY AND IDOL

Well, this is the first in many Raiders at 40 articles I have written to be released through June for the anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark. See you in the next one where I explore the most famous ‘plot hole‘ in Raiders.