This June marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the LucasArts classic, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis…pretty good game, innit? I’m sure there’ll be plenty of pieces to mark this — it’s one of LucasArts’ best, after all. Before Atlantis, no-one had ever managed to nail such a popular and well-loved movie character in a video game quite so well, and in an entirely original story too. It’s a game that even I can appreciate, although the in-depth writing about it is probably best left to those more versed in the world of point-and-click adventures. However, the other game that came out under the name of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis? That I can write about.
The other Fate of Atlantis game, released at the same time as the Adventure game, is very obscure. It seems that LucasArts’ plan was to cover all their bases and try to appease everyone with both an adventure game and an action title, both covering the same plot — it didn’t work out that well because the Adventure Game and the Action Game were simply not on the same level, and the adventure immediately received all the attention. Those who dared to look at the action title may have just been confused — it’s a loose, barebones adaptation of the plot of the adventure, essentially a licensed video game adaptaton of a licensed game. That and it’s simply not very good.
What we have here is less of a full-on action game, and more an isometric version of the adventure with flick-screen graphics, and the ability to whip most anything you can see on the screen. In the majority of levels you can switch between good ol’ Indy and Sophia Hapgood — unlike Indy she can only kick enemies in the shins for the most part, but it still turns out to be quite effective…at first the game appears promising with levels like the casino that make something of a decent fist of incorporating the adventure game’s puzzles into a more action-based title, but it soon descends into generic maze-based guff with the added nuisance of whipping endless enemies…or kick them. One of the main criticisms of this game? That the supposed “Action” version of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis had significantly worse action than the adventure game it was spinning off from — and let’s face it, great action is not the first thing you’d think of when the subject of Fate of Atlantis comes up. In any case a criticism doesn’t come more damning than that, and the Action Game was immediately doomed to obscurity. The developers, Attention to Detail, would later go on to make the classic Rollcage for the PS1! Oh, and the wheredidyoulearntofly-tastic Jaguar launch title Cybermorph.
However, that’s not all there is to the story — while the PC-DOS version of this game was the primary one, it’s also how The Fate of Atlantis was represented on 8-bit microcomputers too. It is strange how LucasArts decided to promote this game in such a way, almost as if Fate of Atlantis was actually a film. Such thinking is surely the only justification for Fate of Atlantis appearing on the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC — coming out as late as 1992, they’re amongst the final crop of commercial releases for the Speccy and the Amstrad in particular. Spare a thought as well for the poor Atari ST owners — while the Amiga did get a port of the point-and-click adventure (albeit on eleven whole floppy disks, meaning more time was spent switching than playing), Atari owners were stuck with this strange and poorly done obscurity that, as a game of the game, may just have less of a reason to exist than any other licensed title ever made.