After the LucasArts Point and Click Adventure era slowly came to a close, LucasArts turned to new styles of games for their franchises. Star Wars went deeper into the way of the shooter, going into first and third person combat as well as space. There were even RTS games.
LucasArts had already had a massive hit with the ever popular and cult favourite: Fate of Atlantis. So how could they make the intrepid archaeologist a hit for the dawn of the new millennium? The answer? Hal Barwood, famous for his work on the previous Indy hit, Fate of Atlantis, came upon the idea of making Indy into a 3rd person adventure game.
In 1999, LucasArts unveiled their new game. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. The game is set in 1947. Indiana Jones is met on a dig in Utah by his friend from Fate of Atlantis, Sophia Hapgood, who now belongs to the newly formed CIA, explains to Indy that the Russians are searching in Babylon for the Infernal Machine, which allowed the ancient Babylonians to contact their god Marduk. The Russians intend to find the Infernal Machine, the lost parts which are scattered in locations around the world and use the Infernal Machine to win the Cold War. With the clue of Babylon and an ancient gear that Sophia gives him, Indy sets off all over the world trying to keep one step ahead of the Russians and get to the Infernal Machine before the Russians can get a hold of it first.
The game has some exotic locales, ranging from Utah in the US, to Kazakhstan, to Mexico and the Phillipines. Fans of the series will enjoy a bonus level which can be accessed if the player can find enough treasure within each of the game's levels, a map can be bought which takes the player back to Peru and to the Chachapoyan temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The level still has many references to the movie as the remains of both Forrestal and even Satipo can be found. After recovering a second golden idol from the temple, Indy muses that "Belloq isn't around to get this one" and after the pedestal sinking and escaping yet another boulder, Indy mentions that he "still can't speak Hovitos".
The strategy guide from Prima actually contains some prequel material for the game. Indy and Henry Sr. are currently living together in New York and Indy is preparing to start a semester at Barnett College and the trip with students to Utah as mentioned in the first level of the game. Henry Sr. is going to be looking after Indy's classes while he's away and Henry reminds Indy to be weary of those "Godless Communists."
The game looks, feels and plays very much like a big hit of the era, Tomb Raider. Indy moves in 90 degree angles to himself in all directions. He can run and jump onto certain ledges. There's obvious blocks which can be pushed and pulled to provide a higher platform to reach others. Other items that can be used are statues and bits of wood where Indy can whip and swing across large chasms that are too big to jump across.
The game was released in late 1999 on PC and N64. An entirely different Gameboy Color version was released around the same time, however it was an isometric adventure and released by THQ instead of LucasArts. A Playstation port was announced and set to be released, however, it never made it to the console. Sources claim that poor sales of the N64 version were the reason behind the cancellation.
To end this blog, I'd personally say that Infernal Machine is quite an interesting game in it's own right that deals with the supernatural again, being as there's gods and ancient robots for Indy to fight. However, it's done in the right way that still keeps with the Indy theme. I do feel with the amount of action, the game could work as an interesting Indy movie. I'd say that if you have an N64, a PC that could run it or even a Gameboy Color, I'd say check out this quite cult Indy gem.