Eurogamer Retro: Fate Of Atlantis

By John Walker on October 18th, 2010 at 11:48 am.

They were less politically correct times.

Playing old games makes you more handsome, so in my desperate struggle to ascend from “bridge troll” I’ve created another retrospective for Eurogamer, this time about Indiana Jones & The Fate Of Atlantis. Made at the same time as The Secret Of Monkey Island and The Dig, I argue that it’s the best of the three. Despite not having any fondness for Indy. I say:

“It’s a good job the Nazis didn’t have access to all the mystical, powerful idols and machinery that gaming would have us believe. Although it’s equally odd that our fiction wants to take one of the most horrific and murderous forces ever to have existed, and suggest that had they only got their hands on the Holy Grail or secrets of ancient worlds then they could have caused some real trouble. But such is the way of both gaming and the Indiana Jones franchise, and so once more the good doctor is trekking about the planet, trying to beat the Nazis to finding the lost city of Atlantis.”

You can read the rest here.

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46 Comments »

  1. Risingson says:

    John Walker, please stop this:

    “Fate of Atlantis really is outstanding, and even more so for being one of very few nineties adventures that hasn’t become too infuriating for modern play.”.

    This assumption, this generalization is unfair and untrue. You ask the puzzles to be “logical”, when adventures began to have trouble when they became mundane in their puzzles. You know, an adventure game asks not for being “logical”, in the sense of “things I would do in the current world”. It asks for a good design, design that consists of puzzles that have sense in the context of the adventure, which have clues, subtle and spreaded through descriptions and dialogues, and all of those text being well written, concise, descriptive, not overlong, always adding some information to the pictures but not too much.

    I agree, though, on “Indy 4″ as being the best of Lucasarts adventures. It precedes Gabriel Knight in its “DaVinci Code” kind of story, has lots of different places, and above it all, it has, like the movies, that smell of great classic colonialistic adventures. And Sophia is a pure Howard Hawks female character, very very great. But I think that, sincerely, those kind of reviews HARM the genre, and makes me think why Syberia won all that praise with all those mundane and boring puzzles. Put a key in door. Put a wire in door. Logical puzzles. Yes.

    Sorry, it’s monday. But I will never forgive your blindness playing the first two monkey island, JohnWalker. Or I will never forgive that you presented the reviews as you being more interesting than the games.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      I wholeheartedly agree, even if this comment would be more at place under an article that pushes this “logic” concept much further.

      These kind of puzzle criticisms are really unfair to the style of gameplay in adventure games, as is the very common practice of taking the worst puzzle from a many hours adventure game and saying (or suggesting) it represents the kind of nonsense the whole game is filled with.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      “This assumption, this generalization is unfair and untrue. You ask the puzzles to be “logical”, when adventures began to have trouble when they became mundane in their puzzles.”

      You can have logical puzzles that aren’t mundane. As always, Zombie Cow’s games are perfect examples of htis.

  2. Xocrates says:

    I got this game when it got on Steam, and while I was quite enjoying it I didn’t finish it since while I was clicking through a dialogue tree to see the responses I got killed (which up to that point I was convinced it couldn’t happen).

    I played for a bit longer, but I got so paranoid I had to stop.

  3. Sunjammer says:

    Best Adventure game Lucasarts made. It’s just glorious. So many hours of entertainment.
    My favorite thing about it was the globetrotting aspect. It just had lots and lots of cool locations.

    My absolute favorite bit was the submarine. I could play that again forever.

  4. Ben says:

    “It was the best game of the three,” not “it was the better game of the three.” Don’t they have sub-editors at Eurogamer?

  5. Red Scharlach says:

    The Secret Of Monkey Island was far superior to this one. Mainly because it managed to constantly reinvent the way puzzles panned out so it didn’t feel repetitive.

    So were Loom – if only for its core system – and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a game which managed to give you sufficient enough options to maintain an illusion of choice when it came to its puzzle-solving.

    All Fate of Atlantis had really was a tinny soundtrack and embarassingly stereotypical characterisation.

  6. JKjoker says:

    wait wait wait, you didnt like the original Indiana Jones trilogy ? heresy!

    in any case, this game is my favorite graphic adventure ever, the story is awesome, the gameplay always presents something new before it gets boring from car chases to sabotaging submarines, it also has some crazy replayability with the 3 paths, while they share several locations they are very different (except the end which sadly plays out pretty much the same altho several puzzles have multiple solutions that lead to multiple endings)

    i couldnt believe when they made the kingdom of the crappy looking skull instead of this, they had the perfect story in their hands and they decided to go for aliens -_-

  7. Igor Hardy says:

    Very good retrospective (Or am I saying this only because it matches my own experiences with the game?).

    In fact Fate of Atlantis was the first adventure game I ever played and remains one of my most beloved. I remember watching a trailer for it in times when my gaming experience was limited to NES platformers like Super Mario Bros 3 and Prince of Persia, thinking “Wow! Now this game has some truly exciting stuff and interactivity in it”.

    On a side note, I feel the latest Hal Barwood & Noah Falstein adventure – Mata Hari – was severely underrated when it was released last year. It looks like it was made on a minuscule budget and some of mini games are nothing special, but it also does attempt some very creative new things.

  8. bill says:

    This is indeed the best of the old luasarts scumm games (at least that i’ve played).

    Actually, this and the inferior Last Crusade might actually be the only adventure games i’ve completed without getting frustrated and using a walkthrough.

    Of course, i was about 10 when i was playing Last Crusade on my 286 and there was no such thing as walkthroughs and the internet – so i had to just keep at it. Only getting one game a year made you persistent.

  9. tomwaitsfornoman says:

    Enjoyed your retrospective, Walker, but didn’t Richard Cobbett do this a few weeks ago?

  10. Om says:

    A quality game with effortless charm. Definitely one of the LucasArts best

    Now I’m off to reconstruct Atlantis in Minecraft

  11. bigguns says:

    I loved this game back in the day. I playing through all the Monkey Island HD remakes at the moment, then I think this game will be next. Ahh, 1990′s Lucasart gold. So much great adventure gaming. I’d love a HD remake (hint, hint Mr. Lucasarts ;)

  12. Sander Bos says:

    “If I ever saw the films as a kid, they washed right over me. As an adult, I find them mostly quite boring.”

    Heresy…! Raiders of the lost arc must be the most eventful per minute movie that has ever been created, there is so much action and scenes/ locations etc. What is a movie you do not find boring if ROTLA makes you yawn?

    And with regards to which is the better adventure, the comparison between these three (MI is the best IMHO) does not really matter, ‘everybody’ ‘knows’ the best Lucasfilm adventure was Day of the Tentacle (disclaimer: I am still waiting for a chance to play Grim Fandango).

  13. Optimaximal says:

    Erm, this wasn’t made at the same time as Secret of Monkey Island & The Dig… All three games came across a 5 year period (and it shows).

    In fairness though, if you meant Monkey Island 2, I’ll cut you some slack.

    • Sander Bos says:

      Yeah, I wondered about that too. The release dates on Wikipedia seem to suggest fate of atlantis was closer to dott and sam and max hit the road (released in 2003, fate in 2002). On the other hand, the page for the Dig (release year 2005) mentions that The Dig had been in development since 1989, so apparently it was in development before Sam and Max (which was based on a 1989 comic (as mentioned on Wikipedia)).

      But it could be true (does it really matter?), from the secret of monkey island wiki-page: Gilbert originally intended to work on the [secret of monkey island] in 1988, after his work on Maniac Mansion, but the project was put on hold for the production of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure.”

  14. datom says:

    Not to be too much of a naysayer, but Fate of Atlantis is the only SCUMM game I’ve replayed recently and been genuinely disappointed in. Lots of things about it are absolutely fantastic: the feeling of place, locations etc. I remembered loving it as a teenager on the Amiga (with about a million disk swaps). I snapped it up the minute it came on steam.

    However, I can’t find agreement that this was a high point of puzzle design. A large amount of ‘puzzles’ rely on trial or error – keep doing a task 5 or 6 times until you realise the perfect order of things, click against the dark background until you find the dark object, ‘use x with y’ until success etc, and the vast majority lack the kind of background hint that would point you to the solution. Compared to some other examples where trial and error is either well thought out or at least ‘fair’ (for all it’s now the done thing to criticise Secret of Monkey Island, the sword fighting was genuinely interesting as a trial and error mechanism; heck, even in Police Quest, you at least could realise after the fact you’d done things in the wrong order before your inevitable demise every other screen for not reading Miranda Rights properly or something), it’s pretty uninventive, repetitive and frustrating. I don’t mind having to do things a few times because I got them wrong, but having to do them a few times simply because the game wants me to is not something I particularly enjoy.

    Now, is it still ten times better than most adventures? Yes. Are the vast majority of puzzles satisfying? Yes. I just remember FoA as ‘excellent puzzles’, and SoMI as ‘so-so puzzles’, when in retrospect, I think I might have got them the wrong way round.

    • Lunaran says:

      The dark room puzzles I thought were great – you had to feel around exactly as you actually would were you there. They also had a built-in rescue mechanism: the longer you took, the more your eyes “adjusted” and the room gradually became somewhat visible again.

      The guess-what-the-squab-seller-wants-for-his-wife puzzle was pants, I’ll give you that, but that was really it for bald-faced trial and error puzzles in this game.

  15. redsquares says:

    This is one of my all time favorite games.

    “Look, but don’t touch!”

  16. Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

    Wait, “handsome”… is that sexist? Are you saying only men will grow prettier? Women will not achieve the level-up? Huh huh? Fetch the torches!

  17. Magius Paulus says:

    This was my favorite adventure game of all time, but then Gabriel Knight came out…
    On a slightly related topic, does anyone know what the status is of the new adventure game by Jane Jensen (author of GK)?

    • Igor Hardy says:

      A German/English version of Gray Matter is supposed to come out in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the first days of November. However, the international publisher delayed it until February.

  18. Isometric says:

    Certainly my favourite of those three.

  19. Gremmi says:

    Those are some mental dates y’got there. Sure you haven’t put 20xx when you meant 19xx?

    • Sander Bos says:

      Yeah, well, I guess you have to deduct 10 if the number is larger than 2000 I guess. I don’t what it is with me and commenting on this site, but whenever I read them back I am thinking what was I thinking (and no, no drugs or alcohol)…

  20. Gremmi says:

    That was a reply to Sander Bos. Ho hum.

  21. Vague-rant says:

    The biggest flaw I found in the Indiana Jones games (Fate of Atlantis included) was the awful, awful combat. Good thing you could avoid combat in most situations, but I wish all fighting, both in games and real life were conducted Monkey Island insult style.

    • Nick says:

      Even in the parts where you couldn’t avoid it, I believe there is a button you can hold/press to instantly win when you punch them. Its been a while though.

  22. suibhne says:

    I still have such fond memories of this game that I’m a bit horrified to admit that I never finished it – I got so close to the end, then gave up when I couldn’t figure out how to move forward without resulting in what felt like a really negative plot development. To me, that’s a testament to the power of the game rather than a complaint…and I look forward to going back and finishing it at some point, now that I’ve picked it up on Steam.

    /crosses fingers that the Steam version still has the magnificent music

  23. Vodka & Cookies says:

    Interesting factoid Hal Barwood actually pitched an Indy goes to Area 51 as a sequel to Fate of Atlantis but George Lucas vetoed the idea saying he wanted to keep that one for films, thats how long the idea for the fourth movie has been floating around in Lucas head.

    Anyway I loved the Fate of Atlantis its such a shame the same team wasn’t able to crank out another game quickly instead becoming embroiled in development limbo, then having wasted years have to start from scratch again with Indy and the Infernal Machine which was actually decent almost like a 3D adventure game but not strictly Tomb Raider or Fate of Atlantis so everyone was kinda down on it.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      There were quite a few new Indy game projects after Fate of Atlantis – most notably Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix, which Barwood says got scrapped because of its deeper focus on Nazism.

      I never heard of Barwood wanting to go to Area 51, but Infernal Machine is definitely that Crystal Skull like concept he had in his mind. I heard he was pressured to turn aliens into a being from another dimension because of the film idea similarities .

  24. Jodi says:

    Umm, I think you’re 10 years too late…

  25. Stu says:

    I was all set to make a “YOUR MUM” joke but then I noticed you’d beaten me to it in the alt tag. CURSE YOU WALKER

  26. Random dude says:

    I don’t much care for Indiana Jones..they’re not adventurous enough to be adventure movies

    John, I’m curious, what do you consider to be an adventure movie if not Indiana Jones?

  27. new jordan says:

    very nice post
    i like it
    thanks for sharing
    look forward new posts

  28. marvel says:

    This is the game that started my love hate relationship with adventure games.

    Finished it using all three “paths” and can still remember every puzzle.

    They dont make adventure games like they used to :/

  29. MadeOfWaaagggghhh says:

    @Image

    That’s what I told my now ex-girlfriend.

    BOOM!

    Indy has helped us get through life in so many ways.

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