Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Indy 5 in development hell

Looks like Indy is going to keep a permanent spot in the Development hell section of the British SciFi magazine SFX. This will keep the waiting time fun ;-)

Small note: I can hardly believe it but this is the 50th post already. Weird.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy birthday IndyCast!

Two weeks too late but nevertheless from the heart:
Happy second birthday IndyCast!

Ed and all the other folks are doing a wonderful job with the weekly Indiana Jones podcast that keeps not only fans all over the world entertained but helps growing a solid Indy fan network. I have not emailed Ed the Indy story of my life (yet) or participated in any of the trivia games they are playing, but I am a listener of the show since the day I figured out it exists. (Which was sadly not 2 years ago, but then again I still have a number of old shows to catch up on.) Ed, I hope you keep on doing the show for a long time /bow

Unrelated but worth a note: My interest in mobile Indy games triggered by Indiana Jones and the Lost Puzzles a couple of weeks ago made me research similar official Indy games. To my knowledge three Java based Indy games have been released. I knew about the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull game but the LEGO Indiana Jones Mobile Adventure game was new to me. I put it all up on IJC.at.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Indy 5 wishlist

Lately a lot of talk about a possible Indy 5 is going on. Lucas said something, Spielberg said something, Ford said something, ... heck, does that remind me of the nearly two decades of talk about Indy 4 or what. But what can us mere humans lacking any kind of influence over the making or not making of this film do in times like this? I guess we just can watch the show, so here is some entertaining stuff from the latest issue of SFX (that's a Britsh SciFi magazine):

Monday, October 19, 2009

Indy parle fran├žais

I missed this one but I am still happy for the French speaking folks: Last Year not only the translations of the six Rob MacGregor novels got re-released, after all those years the two Martin Caidin and the four Max McCoy novels got translated into French!

A new publisher (Milday) took over and the re-released Rob MacGregor got a little bit renamed. For example 1992 the first book was titled "IJ Peril a Delphes", now it is "IJ et la Peril a Delphes". This kinda reminds me of the time when Mr. Lucas renamed our beloved "Raiders of the Lost Ark" into "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" - but at least we have not fight "Han shot first" wars in the Indy universe ;-)

I have added all 12 new covers in the IJC library.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Puzzle this!

The Staff of the Kings was not the big Indy gaming entertainment I had hoped for this year and I have never played any mobile phone game more than once or twice. So when I got my hands on IJ and the Lost Puzzles I was rather blown away by the quick fun this little gem delivers.
I heard about this Java mobile phone game on the IndyCast and got myself a copy to try it out. It is an easy to learn puzzle game whit a tiny but nice animated Indy that tries to jump from tile to tile in different sized rooms. The idea is loosely based in the second trial in Last Crusade. The tiles come in four different colors and the basic idea is to jump chains of the same color. In the advanced game mode additional elements like blocking spikes and snakes are added for more fun. Beyond the regular and advanced mode games there is an adventure mode that lets Indy beat themed scenarios (locations like Venice, Egypt and so on). In each scenario a number of single games of different styles have to get beaten to finish up.

Lost Puzzles is a real revelation to me because it is the first light hearted but successful attempt on an Indy game for a long time. If you have to wait for someone or just wanna kill some time, this will give bring an instant Indy smile to your face.

I have added the game to my game list on IJC.at.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings

Whee! Last night I finally finished the latest Indy game "Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings" on the Wii. Wow, that took far longer than expected and was overall a mixed experience. The game was released on four different platforms (Wii, PS2, PSP, NDS) with different gameplays. The special stuff about the Wii version is of course the motion control. For the first time the player was suppose to really "whip" through an adventure. Well, at least that was the idea.

I guess by now (I got the game rather late and it took me quite some time to beat it) most Indy fans will know that the game was not as good as we all had hoped for. Just listening to the weekly Staff of Kings bashing on the IndyCast should have been enough of a clue. But it the end my thoughts about the game seem to be different than what most players thought.
  • The controls for this game suck. Most of the time the game is still playable but when things get hairy you will hate the wiimote & nunchak controls.
  • I read (and heard) that a lot of the players disliked the graphics. Yes, Indy did not look a lot like Harrison Ford, but I read years ago that they lost the rights to use his face. Which is why in the games Indy looks like Indy but not like Mr. Ford anymore. Other than that the other characters and the areas looked quite good to me.
  • I did hate the camera view though. Far too often it did not show what I wanted to see (which may not have been what the game wants me to see). Even controlling the camera by hand with the wiimote often did not solve the problem. Some angles simply could not be reached.
  • The music score seems to be quite popular. But not to me. Hearing countless melodies from the films is a nice touch but I started to wonder how many more locations should have a Raiders map room sound feeling. Are good music pieces in the style of the film score too much to ask for? I read that there is new music in this game but I simply can't remember hearing any during the game play.
  • I have a simple rule of thumb that will tell me if a game was rushed. If the levels get shorter and shorter, you can bet the developers ran out of time. Now go back in time and tell me the last Indy game that had long levels (or parts) at the end.
  • Funny enough, the same rule can be applied to the polishing of the game, usually guaranteed by a quality testing team. If there is a noticeable rise in the number of tiny bugs (little graphic errors and such) you encounter from level to level. Staff of Kings is again a classic example.
  • But all of this might still make a playable game if the game play would make sense. A good game has balance in game play. It actually "trains" the player while he plays through the story to prepare him for the level (or game) end bosses. This game does train you in fistfight, shooting and puzzling (this includes climbing etc.) - but for sure you will not need much of this in the last level. There you will rather fight the stupid controls of a crane and hold the wiimote and nunchak in a weird way to simulate driving a bike.
I am disappointed, like all the other players. I do not believe that some more time and polish could have saved this game. In the world of 3D action adventure games Indy still has not found a fitting game play style.

Here are some additional game infos that I could not find in the available walk-throughs:
  • Problems with the QTE when Suzie has to walk over the whip. Hold the wiimote straight up to begin with. When the QTE asks for up, point the tip of the wiimote towards yourself.
  • Solving the crane game. Oh what fun this was (not really). For this the wiimote must again be held straight up. To move the crane make very tiny moves in left-right-front or back direction. This of the wiimote as a very sensitive control stick for the crane. Never mix a left-right move with an up-down move. Always do those one after another. Always make clear single moves. When moving the crane to the other side always do the left-right move first and the up-down move second. The piano does swing much higher on the up-down moves and it is easier to hit the soldiers this way. And again: Make very tiny moves and the game is suddenly a lot easier to beat.
  • Clearing large amounts of enemies in fist fights. All but one (if I remember correctly) fights can be easily won if you can perform one simple move. The grapple (with the Z key), turn and push. While you grapple an opponent the others will not attack (they will once you start hitting the grappled guy). The grapple does not do much damage (it is actually a tool to clear a path trough enemies as the in game help keeps telling us). Now if you use the grapple, turn to any open window or abyss that's near you and push the enemy - instant kill. Using this simple strategy even the "hard" fights like the one in the zeppelin (yeah, open window) get rather easy. The only enemies left to fight are the brutes then.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Japan 2: Tokyo Disney Sea

So, what is so special about Tokyo Disney Sea? (other that most people never see it because it is in Japan ;-) Near Tokyo they have two Disney parks next to each other: Tokyo DisneyLand with all the well-known attraction and Tokyo DisneySea, a park with a unique zone layout and zones like Mysterious Island (a Jules Verne zone) and the Lost River Delta - the Indiana Jones zone.

Take a look at the park layout. DisneySea consists of seven zones. The backside of the Disney hotel at the entrance shows Venice, the zone is called Mediterranean Harbor. To the left you have American Waterfront and Port Discovery. To the right are the more childish Mermaid Lagoon and Arabian Coast. In the center of the park is Mysterious Island (with the volcano Mount Prometheus that breaks out regularly). And on the far side from the entrance is the best theme park zone you can imagine: The Lost River Delta.

All the zones are connected to some body of water. In case of the Lost River Delta the water is a river running through the South American Yucatan area. You can even arrive at the zone using the Transit Steamer Line. On both sides of the river you can find Indy related attractions and you can cross between the river sides using three bridges. Two of the bridges are regular solid bridges, one is a rope bridge for some Indy fun :-) Keep in mind that the whole area is themed. It's like the usual eye candy you get while in queue for a ride - but is is everywhere. There are excavations, camps, trucks, and you can even find Jock's biplane on the river.

On the side far from the Mysterious Island you will find two major Indiana Jones Rides: Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull (a ride in the same style as the Temple of the Forbidden Eye from California) and Raging Spirits (a roller coaster in the style the Temple of Peril in Disneyland Paris). Between the rides you find the Yucatan Base Camp Grill, a nice restaurant for hungry adventurers, and two small Indy gift shops. On the other side of the river is the Hangar Stage for performances, another cantina, and the Lost River Outfitters, the big Indy gift shop.

The Disney map gives a quite good picture of the layout of the whole zone.

To get to the Disney parks you have to take the JR Keiyo Line from Tokyo Station. The parks are at Maihama station. There you can board the Disney monorail that circles both parks and the hotels. Been there six times now I know two ways to maximize your fun:
- Be there in the early morning. Expect a big crowd. Beat them to the fast pass counter and get a fast pass for your preferred Indy ride. Dash through the whole park and queue yourself for the other Indy ride. This way you get a good start with both rides. Be aware that on holidays/weekends the regular queues are longer that 2.5 hours per ride!
- Save money and get extra fun with an After-6 passport. This is valid for a weekday after 6 pm and costs only 3100 Yen (a regular 1-day passport is 5800 Yen). Pick a rainy day. With this setting you will get a nearly empty park with only 5 minute queues. We could ride *all* major attractions multiple times in less than 2 hours, yeah!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Japan 1: Holiday greetings

This years holidays lead me again to the incredible islands of Japan. It's not that I plan to go there again and again, circumstances just force me ;-) This time we have attended the wedding of close friends (best wished to them!). While in Japan we traveled around to interesting spots including the lovely Iriomote island, a nearly sub-tropical island 3000 km south of Tokyo with rain forests, lots of mangrove trees and funny colored local animals.

Iriomote is famous for the 'Iriomote Yamaneko', the local wildcat. Only 100 of those are still around and the chances to see those is slim. Nevertheless they have lots of signs telling you to slow down to avoid roadkills. We did not spot any cats, not even while trekking trough the jungle to see some waterfalls.

Maybe the best feature of the place (from my point of view) is that there so few tourists, that all the beaches are empty, hehe :-)

Coming next: The latest infos from Tokyo DisneySea, the worlds best Indiana Jones theme park.

Monday, June 22, 2009

free LEGO Indy Adventures

I was just looking for the 2009 LEGO sets that seem to got canceled (or has someone seen them?). Anyway, I found something else on the LEGO website: LEGO Indiana Jones Adventures - the free flash game. Now I am not easy to impressed but this game is really nice. It brings back some real jump'n'run feeling that reminded me of the Indy SNES Adventures. Pick up your hat and check it out!

Screenshots from the game

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fanboys ... like us

We watched Fanboys on the weekend. The film is the story of some fanboys that go on a road trip to make their childhood dream come true - to break into the Skywalker Ranch to see an early copy of Episode 1 few month before the official release. The trailer promises a bit more than the film delivers but the film still brings good laughters, nice cameos and nerdy fun-trivia. Now, why do a write about this here? Of course there is some Indy in this. Just wait for the film scenes inside the Skywalker Ranch and you can spot Indy stuff in a lot of scenes.

Wondering why you missed this in the movies? The film was only release in the US (ya, like there are no fanboys everywhere else on this planet...) but it is out now on DVD.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Indy novel petition online

You might have heard about the upcoming Indy game Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings. But have you ever heard about the game tie-in novel written by veteran Indy author Rob MacGregor? It got canceled recently and now an online petition was started to get it published after all. It's just a few clicks, so if you have some time and want a good Indy read get published:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Finally I got me a new Indy novel

They are out for some weeks now and I somehow missed their release - but now I got my hands on some fresh new novels, the Scholastic books. Those are "only" young adult books but that's still better than no Indy read at all. The series needs a good name and the Scholastic books lack any form of common name. The UK edition does have a series title, though: Untold Adventures. That's quite a catchy one and I will be using that one whenever I refer to the books now.

My copies are from the US edition. While the cover of the first novel Pyramid of the Sorcerer is rather cheap as it is just a reused graphic (for both US and UK editions), the US second novel's cover is a cool piece of artwork. Mystery of Mount Sinai comes with a picture of Indy fighting a cyborg Nazi who seems to posses magic powers. Now what young adult would not wanna read THAT story ;-)

Still positive surprised with the cover, the quality of the paper and the binding of the pages was a letdown, though. Even if it's only $5.99, I expect a paperback to survive more than one read and these books do not look like they could. Well, I will get myself the UK version of the books anyway, let's hope they have a better quality.

Have fun and an adventurous read when you get your copies c|:)

The covers of the US/Canada edition by Scholastic:

The covers of the UK edition labeled 'Untold Adventures':

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The hat is back ... so it seems

When I was walking through a shopping district the other day a certain hat caught my eye when I passed a millinery:

I have not known that a German manufacturer had bought a license to sell a fedora. The hat does not look bad, from what I saw it resembles the Disney fedora I bought in Tokyo DisneySea six or seven years ago (incl. the "Indiana Jones" pin on the ribbon. The companies name is "Mayser", their website is http://www.mayser-kopfbedeckungen.de/ for head-wear (the sell other stuff also). Here is a direct link to their Indy section. There you can also find their brochure and advertising material as PDFs for download.