Nostalgia Lane: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

When I started doing the Nostalgia Lane series, I quickly realized that I could spend the first ten articles in it discussing nothing other than adventure games.  MAN, I loved me some adventure games back in the day — King’s Quest, Space Quest, Star Trek 25th Anniversary, The Longest Journey, etc.  People were quick to pronounce adventure gaming’s death from about 1995 on, even though these games continued to (and still do) endure and thrive.  It’s interactive storytelling and puzzle-solving combined to create a fun experience where you have to put in some real effort and brainpower in order to progress the story — not just hit “A” a bunch of times and explode stuff.

But while I was going to hold off doing another adventure game review, I couldn’t resist dishing out a hearty scoop of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.  It remains one of the most memorable gaming experiences of my younger years, and it needed to be told.

The year was 1992, and I was sweet sixteen.  Guys can be sweet sixteen, right?  Hm, how about sweaty sixteen?  Okay, that really doesn’t sound better.  16.  I was.

A friend of our family went on a trip and asked me to come over to do some housesitting for a few bucks, which I was more than happy to do, because he had a really spiffy computer setup and was fine with me playing on it.  Before he left, the guy told me I had to try this new Indiana Jones game that he beat a week or so ago, and then left me to it.  The game in question was Fate of Atlantis, arguably the best Indiana Jones title ever made, and I had no idea what I was in for.  All I knew is that, pixels and cheesy MIDI theme aside, it felt very Indiana Jonesish from the start.

Made by LucasArts and using the SCUMM adventure engine — my first SCUMM game, actually — Fate of Atlantis used a combination of clickable key words, dialogue choices and inventory items to hunt through ruins, stay one step ahead of the Nazis, and find the fabled lost city of Atlantis and its immense power.  It was notable in that the middle section of the game offered players a choice to progress in one of three ways: a Fists path (more action, fighting, less puzzles), a Wits path (more puzzles), and a Team path (you use another character more extensively to solve puzzles).  That right there made playing through the game three times a requirement, just to see how each path felt.

The puzzles themselves were more or less logical, but pretty devious (especially for a high school student), and I found myself in agony trying to progress yet getting stuck on a tricky trap or complicated puzzle without any way to proceed.  This was, of course, before the internet and GameFAQs, so my panic button was to call the guy whose house I was watching and ask him for solutions.  Even though I must’ve called about ten times over the weekend, he was patient with me and — to his credit — didn’t give me the direct solution, just hints and tips to help me figure it out.

All in all, Fate of Atlantis hit the sweet spot that made the Indiana Jones movies work.  It was funny, the characters memorable, and the set pieces fantastic.  It’s just a shame that I didn’t realize back then how many other SCUMM adventures I was missing out on.

While I didn’t find the subsequent Indiana Jones games as captivating, it’s good to know that Steam re-released Fate of Atlantis lately, with voice-over included.

14 thoughts on “Nostalgia Lane: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

  1. spinks March 28, 2010 / 3:32 pm

    I have fond memories of this game too. It was very cool.

  2. Tesh March 28, 2010 / 5:50 pm

    It’s one that I never played, but always meant to. Now that I have it thanks to a Steam sale, I’m going to dig into it. Someday.

  3. mmogamerchick March 29, 2010 / 6:11 am

    I was a wee girl of 7 when I first played that game. I still dig it up once in a while, and play it through ScummVM.

  4. silvertemplar March 29, 2010 / 7:03 am

    I only remember moonstones and sunstones and placing them in obscure places , lining up all kinds of sun-beams and planets and …oh hell that was a fun game 🙂

  5. Justice Pie March 29, 2010 / 8:15 am

    I did not know Steam rereleased it! I’ve been trying to get my old copy to work but it’s a DOS download and I’ve never been able to get the sound to work. I remember finding this game at a Egghead Software back when they were around, bought it used then. Still have all the box contents, but no box. =(

    If you bought the Wii’s Staff of Kings, it came with a copy of Fate of Atlantis on the disc. FoA was worth the purchase of Staff of Kings.

    Maybe LucasArts will allow Steam to release ‘Full Throttle’ next!

  6. Justice Pie March 29, 2010 / 8:19 am

    …ack, another memory I just dug up like Indy finding a lost piece of oricalcum…

    As a senior, I used to go over to my friends house and play this on her Apple. Because I was so focused on saving Atlantis, I never realized she had a huge crush on me. /facepalm

    PS That Steam package for $9.99 includes The Dig!? SOLD! I recommend everyone grab it for The Dig too!

  7. TK March 29, 2010 / 10:19 am

    Star Trek 25th Anniversary is the first non-educational game I ever played. Well I still think I learned a lot from it…..like Red Shirts could die, but if Kirk, Spock, or McCoy died it was game over. I have such fond memories of that game! There was one mission I could never beat though. There was a mission to get through a door I think, and if I just let the game sit long enough it would let me continue to the next episode. I need to get my hands on a copy of that game again!!

  8. Misanthrope March 29, 2010 / 11:14 am

    Wow. I was actually playing the Steam version this weekend after my DS died and I forgot my charger, leaving me with just my laptop for entertainment while I was at PAX. I can probably beat all of you, too… I was playing this game when I was 2 years old, hell, I probably learned how to read playing SCUMM games (Sam and Max being a perennial favorite of mine, not the least of which being the fact I am actually named Max and was a psychopath at a young age).

  9. vekkth March 29, 2010 / 11:34 am

    oh shi…
    great game, but i’ve just bought DAO expac…

  10. Tesh March 30, 2010 / 11:59 am

    Justice, aye, The Dig is brilliant as well. I got that package, and I’m currently playing The Dig. Once I’m done with that, it’s on to Indy. 🙂

    I can only dream that Star Trek 25th will one day hit GOG.com or Steam. I’ll buy it as soon as I see it, I think.

  11. We Fly Spitfires March 31, 2010 / 7:19 am

    I did love Fate of the Atlantis… in face, I really enjoyed a lot of those mid 90s adventure games. I was really happy to see Monkey Island and Beneath A Steel Sky released for the iPhone. Is Indy out for the iPhone yet?

  12. MMO Tomb May 5, 2011 / 1:47 am

    Oh I loved the relationship between Indiana Jones and Professor lady (forgot her name). The way sometimes you had to cooperate to complete a task (like scaring that guy with the mask and flash light!). I also liked how you can choose to finish the game in 3 different ways. I loved all LucasArts games, it’s a shame we don’t see games of equal quality. 😦

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