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I'm hoping to turn this blog into a series, one addressing some of my favorite franchises sporting video game adaptations that didn't do well on retail shelves, or franchises that have yet to be revived (and totally should) via videogame adaptations.
Recent reboots, like Tomb Raider and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, show that reboots can be incredibly successful under the right direction and talent. Other recent releases, like the heap of rubbish that is TMNT: Out of the Shadows, show that creating a lively, worthy reboot is harder than at face value; especially when the series has a good reputation for good movies or games.
This time, I'll be talking about...
With the closing of Lucasarts, the main publisher and developer of the Indiana Jones games, it's time for a new team of developers and publishers to let Indiana Jones (or his son, Henry) have a second chance. His adventures should break free of the lighthearted Lego games and point-and-click adventures found during 2000-2009. It's time Indiana swung into the limelight again, in a true AAA title, sans a movie tie-in or crossover.
Indiana Jones is an outdated franchise, why reboot it? Time has not been kind to Indiana Jones. The attempted movie reboot, "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," was mediocre film at best, and left many fans with a bitter taste. Still, a videogame reboot could work. The movie does hint at Indie's son becoming the next hat-wearing, whip-swinging adventurer. A new protagonist means a new roster of characters, including fresh faces that would help Henry in his exploits, and place Indiana as a fatherly-adviser figure. While it's at it, the game should create its own new experiences, unhindered by the older movies or movie release dates; we all know how utterly "meh" movie tie-ins usually are. So let's spare Indiana the pain of being in another one.
An Indiana Jones reboot would establish its own unique narrative, its own unique characters (with the seasoned Jones Sr. serving as an adviser), and would look to other successful videogame series for inspiration. Tomb Raider was a hit for its action and surprisingly brutal treatment of its characters. The Last of Us tugged at the heartstrings of gamers with deep, engrossing characters and dialogue. Obviously, one cannot suggest model Action Adventure titles without mentioning the Uncharted series, which reached critical acclaim for its set-piece moments, plots, characters, and visuals.
To be a good reboot, an Indiana Jones game should take note of what games like Uncharted did right, and what they did wrong. Uncharted is renowned for its excellent characters, plot, and script, and Indie's adventures can't skimp on any of those three main premises. Great characters make the gamer actually care that they're slowly being lowered into a pit of snakes, a plot makes the gamer understand why the character is getting lowered in to the pit and a wonderful script makes the frantic banter of the character more relevant.
Make the new Jones witty, but keep the same rugged gruffness movie buffs have grown to know and love about the man's father on the silver screen. Make his main squeeze more than just a hollow shell with boobs and killer thighs; the days when the helpless, utterly dependent heroine only had to scream to be considered a worthy character are long gone.
When it comes to set-pieces, make them beautiful. And I mean effing gorgeous; lush jungle in a thunderstorm, or a desert oasis a la Uncharted 2, for example. Heck, we could have a National-Treasure-esque adventure beneath Washington D.C. (hopefully with a lot less "Nicholas Cage" and a lot more "acting"). Originality is important too. Why not a medieval castle instead of a jungle of doom? Or maybe the new Jones could go to Antarctica and discover a science project gone wrong?
Whatever the set-pieces, they must be rollercoaster rides that combine the danger of adventure with the lighthearted humor, embodied perfectly in the famous "knife to a gunfight" scene from Raiders.
If I could make any two developers and publishers team up, I would no doubt go with Naughty Dog and Bethesda Softworks. ND's made arguably the best action-adventure games out there today. After finishing Uncharted's trilogy, Naughty Dog had the option to try a different genre, but they can't quit it apparently.
The Last of Us puts the gamer in the shoes of a pair of survivors trying to scrape by in a run-down New York, and have run-ins with plenty of bandits and people with horrible cases of Athlete's Foot. ND has proven time and again that they've got the talent to make amazing levels, yarns, and most importantly, the resemblance of human beings gamers actually care about. But why would I pair them with Bethesda Softworks?
Bethesda Softworks' claims to fame involve publishing pretty epic titles, like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout series, while also taking plenty of risks with IPs like Brink, RAGE, and Dishonored. Plus, they're no strangers to shooters and balls-to-the-wall action, as evidenced by their publishing of Quake and Doom reboots/titles. BSoftworks' pedigree for publishing IPs that do their best to push the envelope of innovative game design would suit a new Indiana Jones franchise well.
With the talented developers of Naughty Dog and the publishers at Bethesda Softworks allowing some development risk, an Indiana Jones game would be awesome. Plus, the new console generation is around the corner. What better way to sell your system than with the backing of Harrison Ford himself? I say it's time for Indiana to brush off his hat, take his whip in hand, and solve some mysteries in the many frontiers we never even dreamed of.
How about you? Do you want an Indiana Jones game? Who would you place as the dev and pub?