Flashback Attack: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Title: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Version Played: CD-Rom (1993)
Admit it, all you had to do was read the title, and that theme song is playing through your head now (and don’t worry, that theme has a totally cool chiptune rendition in the game). Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, though, doesn’t follow the plot of any of the films, instead it’s an entirely new Indy adventure. How cool is that?
Actually pretty cool! The plot itself is pretty interesting, it follows the titular Indiana Jones in 1939 as he reunites with an old work colleague, Sophia, after being swiped out of a rare artifact from (who else) a dastardly Nazi agent.
Those wily Nazis!
The first half of the game follows a linear path, but at about the halfway point you can choose one of three paths to follow: The wits path, the guts path and the team path. Which path you choose alters the story, places you visit, and puzzles you encounter. The endings are all ultimately the same, more or less, but hey, at least you get some replay value.
The game is an old point-and-click adventure game, from the same studio that brought you, and using the same engine as, The Secret of Monkey Island. Unlike that title, though, this game’s never gotten any kind of special edition re-release, which is a bit of a shame. Still, the games readily available on Steam, which is a good thing because if you’re using an actual CD-Rom, like myself, getting the game to run can be a bit of a hassle.
If this happens, it means you're doing something wrong
Look, I could sit here and try to explain to you all the intricate details of why these old CD-Roms don’t work on modern computers, but frankly it’s all a little over my head. Basically, if you want to run these Lucasarts adventure games off their original CD you’ll either have to use DOSbox or (my preference) download ScummVM.
It’s tough for me to say how much ScummVM affected my experience with the game. For all I know, I was only able to save my game because I was using ScummVM and the developers intended for me to play the whole game straight through. But, I’d say I got a close enough experience that, for all intents and purposes, I was playing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis the same way I would have in 1993.
I even played it on a computer from 1993!
But, does it stand the test of time?
If I had played the game in 1993, I’m pretty sure that I would have been impressed, even despite only being an infant. That is to say, even playing the game today I’m pretty damn impressed with the thing.
Like most point-and-click games, the gameplay mechanics are easy to pick up, and although the SCUMM engine is a bit more complex than some might be used to, it’s still surprisingly easy to navigate. Add on to this the gorgeous pixilated artwork, and you’ve got a game that’s managed to age very well.
No seriously, check out that gorgeous art
I’d say the art’s actually been improved with time. In a day and age where games have gotten both hyper-realistic and simultaneously very gray-and-brown, it’s a breath of fresh air to sit down and play a game that uses it’s limited color palette to full effect.
While the art’s been seemingly improved by time, some things have been completely unaffected by time. For example, this game is still ridiculously difficult. Unlike a lot of adventure games that came out during this era, though, a lot of the puzzles you’ll encounter don’t tend to rely on “adventure game logic.” Occasionally the solution to a puzzle will simply be hovering your mouse over a tiny little spot that you just didn’t happen to notice, but for the most part once you get a puzzle you’ll think to yourself, “well, duh, how did I not see that?”
Oh, I just talk to her! That’s much easier than what I thought I had to do.
Fair warning, I have a bit of a soft spot for point-and-click adventure games, so just take that into account when I summarize this whole thing by saying that Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is, was, and probably always will be, a great game.
If you happen to find Fate of Atlantis at a garage sale or a thrift store, I’d say it’s not really necessary that you grab it unless collecting physical boxes is something you’re in to. What I would recommend, though, regardless of your interest in physical boxes, is that you find some way to give this game a try. Even 20 years after it’s release, it’s still a magnificent game.
Oh my god, 1993 was 20 years ago.
Flashback Attack is a column that goes up whenever Matt finishes an old game. In it he takes a look at some older games and tries to figure out if they've stood the test of time. Do you have a game you'd like to recommend? Leave a suggestion in the comments or e-mail Matt at email@example.com.