Friday, 8 January 2016

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (MS-DOS)

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis title screen
Developer:LucasArts|Release Date:1992|Systems:PC, Mac, Amiga, FM Towns, Wii

This week on Super Adventures I'm looking at the second Indiana Jones point and click adventure game, Fate of Atlantis, and wondering why they've put a colour cycling effect on the logo. That didn't happen in the movies... did it? I don't own the films so I can't check.

I should make it clear that this is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Graphic Adventure I'm playing, as like Last Crusade this has a separate Action Game to go along with it. Though unlike Last Crusade this has its own original story, there never was a 'Fate of Atlantis' film, so the Action Game is actually a video game tie-in... to a video game. I'm pretty sure I had a 'Fate of Atlantis' comic book once as well, but it'd take an archaeologist to find the damn thing now.

The game came out after Lucasfilm Games were renamed to LucasArts, so I'm hoping I'll get to see an animation of the Gold Guy logo man doing something at the start.



Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Gold Guy Lucasarts logo
Nope, he's just standing there on his purple 'L', holding up his eyelashes. Very disappointing.

Wow, that's really... blue.

Earlier Lucasfilm adventures like Last Crusade, Loom and even Monkey Island were originally released with 16 colour EGA visuals, so their use of cyan was due to necessity. Fate of Atlantis on the other hand had 256 colour VGA graphics from the start, so if I ever end up in a magenta coloured room it's because the artists chose to make me to suffer. It still got a CD-ROM re-release down the line though, to upgrade the dialogue from silent to 'talkie'.

Oh I should point out that Indy's got a voice! I'm not sure I'd go as far as calling this a Harrison Ford impersonation, but I can believe the guy's a rugged adventurer in a fedora. I've heard better voice acting, but not in a video game from 1992.

Right, the interface hasn't bothered to appear yet so I can't actually do anything besides walk around and click on things, but at least I know exactly what I'm supposed to be clicking on. That's a big step up from Last Crusade.

Ow.

This totally wasn't my fault though! I mean who the hell puts a trap door right in front of a peculiar statue? And there's no way a falling bookcase should be able to to slam someone right through the floorboards like that. This college is a damn death trap.

Oh by the way, it turns out that this is actually Barnett College, where Indy teaches. He just felt like swinging in through the window with his whip instead of using the stairs for once.

This intro level serves as the opening credits, as names appear on screen during all the times he's dropped on his ass, but I edited them out of this GIF to get it moving faster. Lots of good names in there though, like Day of the Tentacle/TIE Fighter composers Michael Z. Land, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian. Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell was also involved, as the rotoscope actor for Indy himself! Likely for the 'walking around' animations rather than the 'dropping down holes' ones though.

Lucasarts adventure game timeline
(Lines only vaguely point to the right month, especially for the earlier games.)
Speaking of Sam & Max and those other games, here's where Fate of Atlantis fits into the grand scheme of things. It's somewhere in the middle, surrounded by genuine classics on either side. Classics with amazing covers.

Not that Fate of Atlantis's cover is letting the side down. Sure it looks a bit like the Atlantean statue is puking up over Indy's shoulder, but other than that it's fantastic. I could believe it was painted by movie poster guy Drew Struzan himself, if I didn't didn't already know it was by a different artist called Bill Eaken, who also did a lot of the game's backgrounds. Unfortunately the team didn't have a scanner (unlike the Monkey Island 2 team), so 90% of the art was mouse drawn using Deluxe Paint. It's the last LucasArts adventure game with pixel painted backgrounds I believe.

By the way I reckon 'Fate of Atlantis' is a great title for an Indy game. Apparently the guy who ran the company wanted to go with 'Indy's Next Adventure', but fortunately project leader Hal Barwood got his way in the end.

Success! I knew that clicking on everything in the room would eventually pay off.

Indy takes the tiny statue to a man waiting in his office across the street (called Mr. Smith), and they discover a sparkling metal bead inside.

I haven't played a lot of the game before, but I saw this cutscene running on an Amiga back in 90s and Duke Nukem Forever came out before it'd finished transitioning between images. Everything took forever in fact, especially the loading between scenes. Here's something I've learned from personal experience: don't ever play a game with 11 disks on an Amiga with one disk drive.

This was actually the last of the LucasArts adventures to get an Amiga (or FM Towns) release, as they became very PC and Mac bound after this. Their final graphic adventure, Escape from Monkey Island, made it to PlayStation 2, but until ScummVM came out you were stuck playing the next dozen games after this on a beige monitor screen or not at all.

Hey, I'm the only one who gets to jump out my office windows you dick!

Hang on, was he just speaking German?

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Klaus Kerner passport screenshot
It seems that our friend 'Mr. Smith' is actually an agent of the Third Reich called Klaus Kerner! Or at least that's what Indy thinks, I can't see 'Nazi spy' written anywhere on his passport myself.

The Indiana Jones license might not have been the ideal match for point and click adventure games really, seeing how Germany is one of the biggest markets for the genre. We nearly got a third Indiana Jones adventure game called Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix but a number of factors led to its cancellation, including the fact that it would've been about Nazis trying to resurrect Hitler. Wouldn't be much left of that story after German censorship was done with it. It got released as a comic though!

The spy also had an old issue of National Archaeology shoved in his coat, so we've just got ourselves a free magazine! It's nice to see Harrison Ford's digitised face, but I'm not sure they should've showed it right after the illustrated passport photo. Makes it look like Kerner drew it himself and no one at the airport caught it.

This particular article is about the Jastro expedition in Iceland, where Indy worked as a field supervisor, with Sophia Hapgood (on the right) as his assistant. She later gave up archaeology to become a psychic, but she might still have something Kerner wants. Indy needs to phone her up and warn her!

Or he could put on a suit and go pay her a visit in New York I suppose.

It's funny how the game gets less modern after the prologue, as now I've got a box full of verbs taking up a third of the screen. There's far less of them than in Last Crusade though; I'll just have to make do without 'Turn on' and 'Turn off'.

Man it's so nice to be able to see what objects are just by hovering the cursor over them. Plus I can right click on the things to automatically perform the sensible action! There's still a bit of pixel hunting, but overall it’s a definite step up from Last Crusade.

Hey, there's a newspaper here I can 'interact' with! Swiped.

I had a chat with the ticket taker as well and learned that Madame Sophia's lecture is sold out, so I'm going to have to get in through the back somehow.

I don’t remember much about the game, but I do recall that the method I choose to get inside to see Sophia determines what set of puzzles I'll be playing through in the middle chapter of the game (or what it recommends at least). I can either pick the ‘Wits’ path, the ‘Fists’ path or… the third one. I said I didn't remember much!

One way in is to simply push the crates out of the way and get to the fire escape. The second way is to open the back door and talk my way past the bouncer. The third way... is to play that bloody fighting mini-game from Last Crusade.

Man, I got my ass kicked harder than Jack Orlando. I guess I won't be playing the fists path then.

The fighting can either be played with the mouse or the numeric keypad, with different buttons for move back, block, and punch. The trick is to punch when the punch power bar has filled up, and block when you’re being hit. At least that’s how I think it’s played, obviously I haven’t gotten the hang of it. There's also the instant knock-out punch button, which gets you the win without getting you any I.Q. (Indy Quotient) points in the process, for when you don't care any more and just want to move on.

Indy eventually struggled back to his feet and I was able to try a different tack with the bouncer: behaving like a normal decent human being. That seemed to work out better, especially when I discovered he was a big fan of Madame Sophia and played on that.

Well I'm in, but I can't speak to Sophia until she's finished her talk and that's pretty much never going to happen unless I end it for her. Those three levers seem like a good bet, but I can’t get near them with the stagehand guarding them.

Every time I try to talk with the guy he shh’s me and I get to see a bit more of Sophia’s lecture. She seems pretty convinced that the city Atlantis once existed, apparently because the Great Spirit NUR-AB-SAL told her so, and she's somehow found an audience willing to pay for the privilege of hearing her talk about it.

Eventually the game ran out of cutscenes and I was able to have a proper conversation with the stagehand. The guy wanted something to read so I handed over my precious newspaper and that solved that puzzle. He asked me to watch the lights while he's gone, so I will. I’ll be watching them very carefully to see what happens when I pull the levers.

Oh, the levers make a spirit come out and haunt the stage... and then burn up. Well now I know.

Man she's fast at changing clothes.

Turns out that Kerner managed to beat Indy here and ransacked her room, but he missed the grand prize: Sophia's necklace.

Turns out Sophia wasn't lying about Nur-Ab-Sal, as she can summon his spirit by using one of those sparkly copper beads on her medallion. Useful if you want to make the lights flicker, but not for much else. The beads are made of a metal alloy called orichalcum (which I finally know how to pronounce now), and it's an incredibly powerful fuel source. The Nazis must be looking for Atlantis so they can get their hands on the orichalcum, so we have to find it first to... stop them somehow I guess?

Unfortunately Kerner seem to have a much better idea of where to look than we do, but suddenly Sophia gets a message from Nur-Ab-Sal, telling us to... locate the Lost Dialogue of Plato. Which is actually a real book that exists in our real world, or more accurately doesn't, as it's presumed that Plato never began writing it.

So we're looking for one myth to find another myth, awesome. The two decide they might as well go to the old dig site in Iceland, as that's where all these statues and necklaces came from.

Alright, now we're at the old dig site in Iceland chatting with a guy with a weird accent called Bjorn Heimdall, who's busy doing all of the new digging. Seriously, his accent might be the strangest thing Indy's ever come across in his adventures, I don't know what the voice director was thinking.

I was expecting there to be some puzzles to solve here, but all I've found is a cave and this bronze eel statue Bjorn's failing to get out of the ice. Fortunately the guy actually knows a lot about Plato's Lost Dialogue so it wasn't a wasted trip.

Bjorn pointed us towards Charles Sternhart in Tikal and Felipe Costa in the Azores Islands, so now I get to use the Indiana Jones map screen to travel the world! I'm glad there isn't a little counter in the corner of the screen adding up how much this is costing me.

I'll go visit Costa the trader in the Azores then.

Damn, Costa claims he knows where the book is, but he wants me to give him something in TRADE first!

Sophia's carrying that rare Atlantean artefact around her neck so we could solve this right now, but she refuses to give the thing up, so we need to find a second one somewhere.

Seems that this one door is all there is in the Azores; there's nothing else I can click on and nowhere else to go. I can't even pick anything up, which is a shame as with Sophia along I've got two inventories to feed now. I miss my newspaper.

Tikal is a little more substantial, but I won't get to see any of it unless I can solve this one-screen jungle maze. There's a number of exits in the background but most of them loop back around to this same screen.

Finding the way out wasn't hard, there's only so many paths to choose from, but there's a snake blocking my path on the other side! So now I'm trying to herd this jungle rodent through the correct exit to distract the snake and the little bastard won't go in!

Oh hang on, maybe I could try scaring him with a loud whipping noise...

Damn man! Now I know why Indy doesn't like snakes.

I climbed the tree to get over the chasm and... found Sophia waiting to greet me on the other side. She'd found the quick route.

Well I've found Sternhart, but we're out of luck. Kerner's already been here and stolen his copy of the Lost Dialogue! Speaking of dialogue, it's nice that I'm getting to chat a lot in this, even if the conversations mostly involve me asking questions. I even got to switch to Sophia in the Azores and chat as her for a bit, though it doesn't happen often.

There's a temple here that seems worth investigating for artefacts, but Sternhart won't let us in until we tell him the title of Plato's Lost Dialogue and prove that we're proper scholars of Atlantis. Out Atlantean expert's really letting the team down here. That bird over on the left squawked ‘TITLE’ though, so I’m thinking he knows something. Trick will be getting him to sing.

Oh, actually I just walked up to the parrot and said ‘TITLE’ and that got me the info. Another puzzle solved!

The temple contains one room and nothing to do in it. Nothing I can do anyway, unless I find a way to do something with this etched snake on the wall. Hey, wasn't Bjorn digging up something snake shaped in Iceland?

Oh hang on, I've figured it out! Not all that hard really when the area only has one other item in it (a kerosene lamp). I told Sophia to distract Sternhart from his trinket shop, swiped the lamp, and used the contents on the wall. Lucky I knew that kerosene helps to strip away tarnish and unstick ancient spiral designs.

So I put the spiral into the elephant head to form a nose, then pulled it to reveal a dead bloke stuck in the wall! Also a worldstone artefact and another orichalcum bead. Then that dick Sternhart ran off with the worldstone and disappeared through a secret door!

I don’t know where to go now. All that work and all it got me in the end was a single bead. I guess I'll go pay Bjorn another visit as I honestly can't think of what else to do.

Holy shit Bjorn froze to death! That poor lunatic.

That sure looks like an ancient Atlantian artefact sticking out of the ice though. I still can't get it out, but Sophia's necklace reacted to being fed orichalcum, so I'll stick a bead in the eel's mouth and see what it does. Maybe it actually is a homing beacon for wayward spaceships like Bjorn thought.

Well it gets hot, that's all I know. Hot enough to melt its way to freedom! Now I can give this to Costa and get the location of the Lost Dialogue!


SOON.


Meanwhile the Nazis having their own fun with orichalcum, discovering that the statue... is weird. Still, they don't need the statue, it's the fuel they're after, so they can build orichalcum nukes! Because regular nukes just aren't devastating enough I guess.

A lot of the voices are pretty decent in this, this mad scientist not so much. I mean he really sounds like a mad scientist and it doesn't suit the tone. I can't say a bad word about the actor though, seeing as he went on to play Max in Sam & Max: Hit the Road, Fred Edison in Day of the Tentacle, and half the cast in every 'Star Wars' game ever.

This seems like a good place to stop playing, as the interlude has a very 'end of chapter 1' feel to it, but I still haven't gotten that damn book yet! But I know where it is...

...Barnett College! I've gone full circle.

I'm struggling though, as I keep finding boxes that need keys and totem poles that need slippery floors and nothing seems to get me any closer to working it all out.

Like this bookcase for instance. I went pixelhunting and located a tiny arrowhead sitting on a shelf and then wrapped a dirty rag around it to create a makeshift screwdriver. With my new tool I'm able to unscrew all the literally one pixel big screws in the back of the fallen bookcase.

Why did I do this? I've no bloody idea. If someone walked in right now and caught me I would have to explain that I'm taking it apart just in case I get a copy of Plato's Lost Dialogue out of it. They'd think I was crazy and they'd be right.


EVENTUALLY.


Success! I should've known to come back down to my basement of discovery! I found the book in the furnace, exactly where I put it. It was left inside a cat you see, so I had to... actually never mind, I don't want to spoil the whole game for you.

I think what happened here is that I fell victim to randomisation. My theory is that the Lost Dialogue can be in different places on different playthroughs, so the arrowhead and the lump of coal are useless to me now, but potentially crucial if I started again.

Okay I just checked a walkthrough and it turns out I was right about the 'random location' part, but not entirely about the 'crucial' part. There's multiple solutions! (Occasionally).


SOON, IN MONTE CARLO.


With the Lost Dialogue in my possession all those other places have been taken off my map and I get two new locations to visit instead: Algiers and Monte Carlo. I also get to shine a flashlight in this guy's face while trying to figure out this bloody seance puzzle.

I have successfully reached the middle of the game and that means I had to make a choice between the Wits path, the Team path or the Fists path. I wanted Sophia around so I could ask her for advice to I picked Team, and now I have to face the consequences of that. I could've been ramming the man's car off the road in a minigame, but instead I have to remember three things he told me in conversation earlier... and then guess how many fingers he's holding up behind his back. Or alternatively do something with this flashlight and a bed sheet.

After a while of this I gave up and checked the walkthrough, and learned that the second way to beat it requires a mask from Algiers. But I can't be bothered to get it at this point, so I'm just going to save the game before he asks his final questions and get through this interrogation using trial and error. Yay for being able to save anywhere, even mid-conversation.


LATER, IN ALGIERS.


Man, if I hear Indy say "I'd like to make another squab offer," one more bloody time I'm going start thinking of other uses for this beautiful knife.

I am going to stop playing in a bit, I don't want to ruin the whole game for you, I'm just not quitting until I figure out how to get this damn squab. I need to trade it to a beggar you see, to get a mystery free gift (which could be the Ark of the Covenant for all I know). Right, where's the walkthrough at, I'm sick of this now.

Oh, it turns out I have to go to different shop on another screen and swap objects with the trader there. Then I come back and see if squab guy wants it. If he doesn't, I go back to the trader and swap items again, and again, and again. More repetition, fantastic!


MUCH MUCH LATER.


I couldn't finish without mentioning this stone disc puzzle. Actually I just wanted a screenshot of it, as the solution is basically just 'refer to Plato's book'. The Lost Dialogue has been functioning kind of like the Grail Diary in Last Crusade, and you'd be surprised how many people around have read the thing and want me to answer questions about it.


EVENTUALLY.


Huh, I don't seem to have quit the game yet, that's weird. I'm not entirely loving the experience, especially now that it's dropped me into a cave maze, but I can't deny it's got some charm to it.

Unfortunately the Nazis have caught up with me, so now I have to be very careful not to antagonist Kerner while he's got that pistol pointed my way. Or on the other hand, I could test to see if the game follows LucasArts adventure game rules re: killing off the player character.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis game over screen
Oops, I got Indy shot. So he can die, but chances are it won't come as a surprise.

Hang on, according to the game over screen, the villain defeated himself? Indy never had to do a thing to stop him? That's... actually fairly typical for an Indiana Jones story now that I think about it. Still, it means that I can load my last save outside of the labyrinth, stop playing, and claim that I won!

Those Indy Quotient points don't have any purpose by the way, it's just my score. Somehow I don't think I made the top of the scoreboard with that effort.


CONCLUSION

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is definitely an Indiana Jones game about the fate of Atlantis. It's an original story but it's got all those important Indiana Jones elements like exotic locations, a tough female sidekick, a race against Nazis to discover an ancient myth, optional fist fights and a whip. It doesn't sound a whole lot like an Indiana Jones story though, especially when Indy's opening his mouth. For one thing the sound quality is a bit crap, but then you're not likely to hear better from 1992. Later Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max: Hit the Road managed to sound like cartoons, this... maybe not so much, but they definitely got real actors in to do actual acting and it's much better than I dunno, Resident Evil. The game didn't make me feel like I was stepping into the shoes of the iconic rogue archaeologist, but the man I was playing as was likeable enough.

Sophia's pretty likeable too and the two of them play off each other well. Their dialogue's not laugh out loud funny, but then you wouldn't really want it to be; this isn't a comedy no matter how many times Indy performed a pratfall during the credits. It's just a shame that what I've played so far didn't give her a whole lot to do, besides act as a hint system and take over in exactly two conversations. If I'd picked one of the other paths she'd have disappeared entirely for the middle of the game!

Speaking of the paths, the 'Wits', 'Fists' and 'Team' idea is pretty unusual and goes along with the randomisation of certain puzzles to add a bit of replay value to the game, which I appreciate. I'd rather enjoy a short adventure game twice than have to endure a long one that's outlived my interest. Trouble is it's very linear and likes to cage you in with a small set of puzzles at a time, flushing half your inventory away when you move on. You can't really attack it from multiple directions like the Monkey Island games.

I got stuck a few times and went running for a guide (in the repetitive bits mostly), but aside from some insane pixel hunting, the game hasn't thrown in many frustrating difficulty-enhancers to trip me up so far. It doesn't seem possible to leave an item behind and make the game unwinnable (unlike in Last Crusade), and it was usually considerate enough to let me know what my goal was! Which I always appreciate.

To be absolutely honest I don't love the game and I didn't even enjoy the game at times, but it kept me playing well after the point I planned to turn it off, so I think that's earned it a shiny 'Not Crap' award.


USEFUL INFORMATION BOX.
Your two main options for buying a downloadable copy of Fate of Atlantis are GOG and Steam. The GOG version apparently comes with ScummVM, whiile the Steam version doesn't need it. ScummVM provides better quality music and extra graphics options, but it'll run the Steam files right out of their folder so it doesn't matter which version you buy. For a while the GOG version had compressed audio files but I think that's been changed now, not that it likely made much difference.


Wow you think you're glad to finally get through all those words, imagine how I feel! And yet there'll be another game next week. I've put a clue over on the left for you if you want to try to guess. Here's a bonus clue: it's not another DOS adventure game.

Please leave opinions on Fate of Atlantis and feedback on Super Adventures! If you feel like it.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for this ! Totally enjoyed it, even if I'll never see this game with neutral eyes. =)

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    1. Search for lava maze on youtube, that's the most atmospheric music you can get by the way

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    2. Okay...

      Hey this IS pretty atmospheric. It's making me want to play TIE Fighter again though.

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  2. I too have a soft spot of the Indiana games; last time I played them was on a Nokia phone under Scumm (where the pixel hunting truly sucks without a mouse, but no scaling on the display so it looked terrific!).

    If you're not sick of point and click adventure games yet, you might like to review Star Trek: A Final Unity?

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    1. I'm not sick of the games yet. But I've a feeling that people reading my site must be getting tired of them after I put Dropsy, Last Crusade and Fate of Atlantis so close together, so it's going to be a while before I do any more pointing and clicking.

      But when I do, Final Unity's going to be right at the top of my game pile.

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  3. I love the introduction to this game. I think it's the first time I encountered interactive opening credits, and they got Indy's clumsiness right; it is something that gets overlooked sometimes, but he's supposed to be a bit rubbish.

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  4. I played this game as a 10 year old and loved it. Played it tons of times (every level), my brother and I tried once to get the lowest IQ (Indy Quotients) possible, and I think we got a seven haha. The characters are memorable - Biff in New York and his insults are probably the one we remember the most - and of course some of the famous Lucas crossovers. I was over the moon when I found the game on Steam back in November because I hadn't played the game in probably 15 years so it was total nostalgia for me.

    I do agree, Sophia is great, and should have had more purpose throughout the game. Try to find "Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine" (if you haven't played it yet). She shows up in that game again.

    Enjoy the blog by the way!

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