The adventurous professor of archeology is back with his trusty whip and iconic fedora in the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 2. We had an opportunity to visit LucasArts here in San Francisco to get a first look at the Wii version of the game to see how it was coming along. We were able to see several different areas of the game as well as gameplay sequences, which seemed to faithfully incorporate Indy's dry sense of humor and his penchant for getting into trouble.
Staff of Kings is an original story set in 1939, a year after the events in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, right before World War II. Indy's journey starts off in Sudan, where he is looking for the idol of Amun, a golden ram head. Our demo took us through a section of the ancient temple, and in typical Indy fashion, as soon as he snagged the artifact the place proceeded to fall apart. This first level acts as an introduction to the basics of combat, and it also gives you a chance to meet your new nemesis, Magnus Voller. The story is heavily inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark, with references throughout the game so fans can look forward to the return of a classic Indiana Jones tale. We didn't get a chance to see this, but we were told that the story unfolds like a graphic novel, so we're curious to seeing how that will fit into the game and what the artwork is like.
In our demo, the archeologist stumbled upon a German encampment and then went on to punch Nazis in the face. You can jab and do uppercuts by swinging and punching with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. To use your whip, you hold down the B button and flick the remote. The fights are at a relatively slow pace, so you can periodically dodge incoming punches to the face by holding the A and B buttons to duck. Indy has always been a resourceful fighter, so your environment comes into play quite often when you're in a brawl. Certain items that can be used as a weapon can be picked up, like a shovel or billiard balls, but you can always throw people into things or, in this particular case, use the whip to pull a fully loaded shelf onto an unsuspecting Nazi. In a later bar fight, we watched as Indy and the enemy AI grabbed chairs and other objects to use in their fight. It was funny to see a guy get tossed into a large aquarium and then watch Indy pick up a fish from the tank and chuck it at someone else. A conveniently placed gong in the corner also makes things easier; if you can get enemies close enough to bash their heads on it, it'll take out their entire health bar.
Other action-heavy parts of the game included a flight sequence in which you pilot a biplane through a narrow canyon and fire at enemies with the B button. You control the plane by holding the Wii Remote vertically, like a flight stick, so you can pull up, steer, and do a full loop if you want to. It wouldn't be an Indiana Jones game without some crazy and frantic chase sequences, so we watched as our demo took us to San Francisco's Chinatown. Since the professor doesn't like to use guns very often, his pistol comes out only during specific sections in the game. There is a cable-car chase scene that functions very much like an on-rails shooter in which Indy can shoot and hide in the cable car as several gunmen chase him down San Francisco's steep streets in their classic '30s-style cars. A targeting reticle appears in these scenes, so all you really have to do is point with the remote and then hit B. There's an unlimited amount of ammo, so you can easily reload with a quick flick of the remote.
We didn't get a chance to see any more cool action scenes, but we do know that there will be river rafting, motorcycles, and elephants involved at some point. When you're not busy running away from boulders and other booby traps, you'll be exploring and doing a bit of platforming in beautiful exotic locales. The ancient ruins and jungles we explored looked great, with a lot of detail and stone structures to check out. There will be puzzles to solve in order to move through the level, and we watched as Indy tried to navigate through a room that contained several stone heads that were dangling from cords and swinging around like pendulums. Giant stone blocks also slammed into the ground periodically, which didn't help matters. In this particular situation, it was impossible to pass through without getting knocked down, so the goal was to find a way to disable the mechanism. Icons will appear on objects to indicate whether you can interact with them, which will provide some hints as to what you can do. One good reason to explore is that as you collect artifacts hidden across the stages, you'll be able to unlock a ton of bonus content.
One of the most exciting additions is that the 1992 PC game Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis can be unlocked early on. The version here is exactly the same as the original except that it has been modified to support the Wii Remote. Staff of Kings also includes co-op and multiplayer modes; you can play through an entire unique storyline with a friend--who plays as Henry Sr.--or you can fight in a four-player combat mode using airplanes and tanks. Combat arenas, original Indiana Jones movie trailers, and skins can be unlocked as well by going through the game and collecting glory achievements and artifacts. A journal from the main menu keeps track of your progress and documents all the artifacts you've found and the achievements you've accomplished.
Staff of Kings appears to be heading in the right direction in terms of keeping the classic Indiana Jones feel. The script got the seal of approval from George Lucas as well as Steven Spielberg, and parts of John Williams' movie score is included as well for you to hum along to. We didn't get a chance to mess around with the controls, but we were told that heavy action sequences are spaced out enough so that you shouldn't get tired from excessive motion control. The only waggling we noticed appears when you're running away, stuck in a choke hold, or shimmying along a narrow ledge and slip--you have to shake the remote and nunchuk to get out of trouble.
We're hoping to get some hands-on time with Staff of Kings in the near future as well as take a look at the other versions of the game. In the meantime, check out our last Q&A for more details about the game. Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings is set to be released on June 9, so be sure to check back soon for additional updates as we head into the Electronic Entertainment Expo.