Indiana Jones is one of the most well-traveled characters you're likely to encounter. He's been all over the world, from the dense jungles of South America to the snowy slopes of the Himalayan mountains. So it only seems fitting that he'll be venturing onto seemingly every platform in existence (seven, to be exact) with the forthcoming Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. With so many options out there, we decided to narrow our focus on the DS version to see, among other things, just what it's like to crack a whip by using the touch screen.
To begin with, the DS version shares some fundamental similarities with its console brethren. There's a heavy emphasis on teamwork given your ability to switch between characters on the fly. We tried our hand at the game's introductory level, the Lost Temple sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark. In this level, Indy is joined by a companion named Satipo. Each character has his own special ability that you'll need to bounce between at certain intervals. Indy's got his trusty whip, which he uses to swing across gaps, while Satipo carries a shovel to unearth certain hidden items.
The level begins with Indy and Satipo making their way through the jungle with the helpful aid of Lego coins arranged in the shape of directional arrows. It's awfully nice that these coins have been so thoughtfully arranged, but you're really only going from left to right in this side-scrolling adventure. Soon the pair arrives outside of the temple, which is when the touch screen action begins. In many cases, the game prompts you to use your right thumb to perform a motion on the screen while controlling the D pad with your other hand. A few early examples include moving a shovel up and down on the bottom screen to dig up objects with Satipo or having Indy turn a crank to drop a bridge that allows his sidekick to cross a treacherous gap. The touch screen is also used for solving puzzles and controlling your weapon inventory.
Later, you'll need to use another feature unique to the DS: the microphone. In the level we played, this is used in two ways. The first is when you arrive at a locked door surrounded by a number of lit torches on nearby walls. You'll need to walk up to each torch and blow into the mic to extinguish each flame. Later on, Indy and Satipo happen upon a river that is far too wide to swim across. Luckily, a yellow raft sits on the shore waiting to be inflated through--you guessed it--a few quick gusts of breath pointed toward the microphone.
Much of this first level involves traditional platforming and puzzle-solving, but you'll be forced to try your hand at combat when the occasional native strolls up and gets rowdy. The A button lets you attack with a weapon (the whip for Indy; a shovel for Satipo), while the Y button is for a straightforward punching combo. Like the rest of the level, combat isn't very difficult, but it provides a nice, cathartic break from all those puzzles.
Visually, the graphics look nice for a DS game. You can see pleasant little touches like waterfalls in the distance, plus the characters and objects are quite distinguishable as being made of Legos even at such a small resolution. There's also video cutscenes at the beginning and end of each level. And in terms of audio, the ambient sound does a nice job of capturing the rushing water and chirping birds that you might find in a jungle. All things considered, even though handheld games tend to become the forgotten stepchildren of blockbuster tie-ins, this version of Lego Indy is looking surprisingly solid. You can expect to see all versions released on June 3.