Video Game: Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Cover art by Drew Struzan.

Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb is a third-person Action Adventure game developed by The Collective (using the same engine they developed for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and published by LucasArts in 2003 for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Macintosh and Windows.

The story is set in 1935, just before the events of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and involves a quest to explore the tomb of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and retrieve the mystical Heart Of The Dragon.

After a Forced Tutorial level in the jungles of Ceylon, the quest proper takes Indy to Prague, Istanbul, Hong Kong and on into China. On the way, he must run, puzzle-solve, platform-jump and fight his way past smugglers, Germans, Arabs, Germans, Chinese gangsters, and Germans, before finally entering the titular tomb for the climax.

Has examples of:

  • Action Girl: Mei Ying has serious martial-arts skills, but see Damsel in Distress below.
  • Action Prologue: A deliberate Shout-Out to the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Artistic License History:
    • Chinese men of both the 1930s and circa 210BC are depicted with shaved foreheads and pigtails. This custom dates only from the Manchu conquest of China in the 17th century, so it did not exist in Qin Shi Huang's time at all, and it had been abandoned by the period in which the game is set.
    • German troops are equipped with MP-40 sub-machine guns. That 40 refers to 1940, five years after the game is set. Even its ancestors, the MP-38 and MP-36, would be anachronistic. Oh, and the Mauser 1896 carried by the German soldiers in the Istanbul levels was never standard army issue.
    • In one section, Indy is attacked by German Bf109 fighters. In 1935 this aircraft was still in prototype so this is Just Plane Wrong.
  • Bag of Spilling / Cutscene Incompetence: Indy's inventory normally resets whenever he travels from one country to another, but it also happens inexplicably during the transition between the German Base and the Black Dragon Fortress on Peng Lai Island; the effect being that Indy abandons all of his heavy weaponry just as he's about to enter a heavily guarded enemy base.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Marshall Kai and Von Beck.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The enemy mooks shout various threats at you in German and Chinese, which will only be translated if you turn the game subtitles on.
    • Oddly, the game starts without subtitles by default, which can make several cut-scenes where characters speak Chinese - notably, the opening where Indy is recruited, and Qin Shihuangdi's speech when he briefly returns to life completely incomprehensible if you don't speak the language.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: A variant: Indy can use his whip to yank enemies' weapons away from them.
  • Bodyguard Babes: The Feng twins, Marshall Kai's personal Dark Action Girl bodyguards.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: Indy must ascend the Penglai Mountains in a cable car while under fire from fighter planes. Luckily the cable car comes equipped with a mounted machine gun.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
  • Continuity Drift:
    • The game includes Indy meeting Wu Han for the first time, but one of Indy's final lines directly references meeting the mob bosses for the sale of the Nurhache urn, and at the beginning of Temple of Doom, when the meeting takes place, Wu says that he has accompanied Indy on many adventures. Also, Indy and Wu Han's first meeting happened in Mc Coy's novel Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs.
    • No mention is made of Short Round in the game, and yet Temple of Doom states that Indy was practically his guardian for a time before the events of the movie.
  • Continuity Nod: In a nod to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Wu Han appears, and Indy wears his white dinner-jacket.
  • Damsel in Distress: For someone with her combat skills, Mei Ying sure does need rescuing a lot.
  • Demonic Possession: One of the boss fights is against Mei Ying, who has been possessed by the demon Kong Tien.
  • Do Not Drop Your Weapon: Subverted. Enemies lose their weapons when you hit them hard enough, but they can do the same to you. It's even possible for Indy's hat to fall off, requiring you to go pick it up.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: When Indy infiltrates a German base.
  • Drill Tank: Von Beck tries kill to Indy late in the game with one in "Von Beck's Revenge", the hardest, most frustrating level in the game.
  • Elite Mooks: A lot.
  • Escape Sequence: The aforementioned Drill Tank segment.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In the Prague level.
  • Faux Fluency: Indy's attempt at speaking Chinese is pretty miserable.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The German flamethrower units are clad in gas masks and long black coats.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: After Von Beck's encounter with the crocodile, he is left with jagged scars across his face and a missing eye.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The primary method of fighting.
  • Giant Squid: There's a boss fight against one.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Thrown wine bottles are surprisingly effective against mooks.
  • Human Sacrifice: Of Mei Ying, of course. To a demon.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: "That's not gonna work."
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Marshal Kai's scenes with a caged Mei Ying.
  • Improvised Weapon: One of the features of the game is to allow you to use random objects like bottles as throwing weapons, and furniture as clubs.
  • Indy Hat Roll: Some closing doors force you to do this.
  • Machete Mayhem: One of the first additional weapons.
  • McNinja: Mei Ying's fighting costume is heavily based on the ninja stereotype of an agile stealthy assassin in a black suit and mask.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The rivers of Ceylon and Penglai Island are infested with them, and the Temple of Koru Watu is guarded by a giant albino croc, to which Indy personally introduces Von Beck.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game can be rather challenging, owing to tricky controls and Check Point Starvation. You can only save your game at the end of the fairly lengthy levels, and if you die the level restarts at the very beginning. The "Von Beck's Revenge" level is notoriously difficult.
  • Painting the Medium: Taken Up to Eleven in quite possibly the coolest manual ever. It's presented as Indy's journal, with notes jotted down every and various scraps of paper fixed in with paper-clips. Everything in the game is presented as something at least tangentially related to the topic. Basic controls? Doctor's orders. Combat? Some pages from a hand-to-hand training manual sent to Indy by his father. Items and inventory? A materials release form from Barnett College. The cast and crew? A list of Indy's colleagues to which he owes thanks. Even the warranty is presented as a certificate of ownership from the American Bullwhip Manufacture. These are interspersed with notes, newspaper clippings, and even advertisements that both create a feeling of being in the 1930's, provide some foreshadowing, and even throw out a Continuity Nod here and there, including a reference to the Dark Horse comic series. Check it out here.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Indy's revolver is the strongest handgun in the game, but ammo for it becomes increasingly scarce as the game goes on.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Mei Ying makes quite an impression on Indy when he sees her dressed up in a pink qipao, rather than the dowdy business suit or McNinja combat uniform she'd worn up to that point.
  • Shovel Strike: A shovel is one of the obtainable weapons.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Mei Ying suffers from this.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: In Prague you face an experimental super-soldier in a typical mad scientist's laboratory. And then later there is Von Beck's notorious drill-tank.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Albrecht Von Beck and his goons are the main antagonists on several levels.
  • Threatening Shark: Featured on some aquatic levels, such as the Temple of Belisarius in Istanbul and the lagoon on Penglai island. Indy can even be Swallowed Whole by them! Fortunately, if you have a spear-gun handy, you can fight back.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Several times, including a chase scene through Hong Kong and defending a cable car from fighter planes.
  • Whip It Good: This is an Indiana Jones game; what were you expecting? His bull-whip serves as a weapon and platforming tool.
  • Yellow Peril: Marshall Kai, and the Black Dragon triad.

Alternative Title(s):

Indiana Jones And The Emperors Tomb