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Video Game / Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

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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. It was released on February 24th, 2003 for Xbox Note , then ported for Macintosh and Windows on March 25th, 2003, and for PlayStation 2 on June 26th, 2003.

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 ivory hunters, Nazis, Turkish mercenaries, Nazis, Chinese gangsters, Nazis and Chinese cultists, before finally entering the titular tomb for the climax.


Has examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: The Kraken can be forced away from his nest by shooting it enough times in the eyes, while the demonic Kong Tien can be defeated by destroying the three Dragon Orbs around him with Pa Cheng after he's stunned and has to lift the barrier.
  • 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.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: The final confrontation with Von Beck has him pilot a drill tank in order to crush you.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: All Germans in the game are members of the SS or the Gestapo, or employed by them.
  • Animalistic Abomination: The crocodile inside the inner sanctum of Koru Watu is a gargantuan, albino beast which constitutes the last but efficient line of defense of the temple. The Kraken is an incredibly grotesque octopoid monster with a ring of orange eyes and barbed appendages around his mouth cable of spitting out jellyfish to drag victims to its maws.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If Indy is carrying a weapon, and gets knocked down, he might drop it, allowing his enemies to pick it up and use it against him. This, however, does not apply to unique items such as Indy's revolver, his whip, the canteen, or puzzle items, as there would be no way of recovering these if they fell into a bottomless pit.
    • During the boss fight against the Kraken, the beast will automatically push Indy back to the middle of the arena as it returns to its position behind the pillars, so that Indy can't get devoured by mistake if he's still too close to the area while trying to apply the demo charges.
    • If Mei Ying falls down a bottomless pit, she will jump right back up after a couple of seconds.
  • Armor Is Useless: Downplayed. The Black Dragon Guards wear classical Chinese armor. Indy can still punch the living daylights out of them, though they can take more punishment than any other standard enemy.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Chinese men of both the 1930s and circa 210BC are depicted with shaved foreheads and ponytails. 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.
    • Nazi 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 (though these soldiers may in fact be SS).
    • In one section, Indy is attacked by German Bf109 fighters. In 1935 this aircraft was still in prototype so this is Just Plane Wrong.
    • Indy can find a Panzerschreck (German equivalent of a Bazooka), but this weapon was only invented in 1943.
  • Automatic Crossbow: The ones used by the Black Dragon members, which Indy can use. Oddly enough, they still make gun-like sounds when loaded and the arrows are referred to as "Ammo" like all the other gun's bullets.
  • Bag of Spilling: Indy's inventory normally resets whenever he travels from one country to another (presumably because customs wouldn't let him transport 50 pounds of weaponry out of the country), 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, possibly to keep a lower profile, since that level has both silent long-ranged weapons and tougher mooks, the better for stealth.
  • Bat Out of Hell: The temple of Koru Watu contains the "Silent Guardians", traps in the form of huge suspended bat statues which reacts to sound and will shoot spikes at Indy if he make noise (by walking on stone). They can be tricked by tossing skulls to make them waste their shot.
  • 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 (and probably still partly incomprehensible even if you do — see Faux Fluency below).
  • Blade on a Stick: Spears can be found in the later levels of the game, but they break after a while and cannot be carried with you.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: A variant: Indy can use his whip to yank enemies' weapons away from them.
  • Bloodless Carnage: To preserve a "Teen" rating, nobody bleeds at all even when stabbed with a spear, shot at point-blank range with a shotgun, riddled with bullets from a submachine gun, hacked up with a machete, bitten by a shark, mauled by an alligator, impaled on spikes, or drilled through the back by the Advancing Boss of Doom.
  • Body Horror: Halfway through the boss fight against the Homunculus, the acid will start to melt off part of his skin, leaving exposed bones.
  • 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: As per standard franchise naming convention, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb (and it almost forms a perfect rhyme with "Temple of Doom", to which it serves as an immediate prequel).
  • Combat Hand Fan: The Feng twins use a pair of these each as their primary weapon.
  • Continuity Drift:
    • The game includes Indy meeting Wu Han for the first time, and the end segues into Temple of Doom when Wu Han reminds Indy that Lao Che has commissioned them to deliver the Nurhachi urn. Yet at the beginning of Temple of Doom Indy refers to Wu as an "old friend", and Wu says that he has accompanied Indy on many adventures. Indy and Wu Han's first meeting had already been portrayed canonically in McCoy's novel Indiana Jones and the Dinosaur Eggs, set in 1933.
    • 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.
  • Deadly Gas: Two rooms in Prague will release poisonous gas in an attempt to kill Indy. You have to leave the first one quickly and break out of the second one.
  • Demonic Possession: One of the boss fights is against Mei Ying, who has been possessed by the demon Kong Tien.
  • Developers' Foresight: During the 'Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor' mission, going up to Mei Ying and attempting to 'interact' with her prompts her to tell Indy to focus on the mission.
  • Disney Villain Death: While fighting it is possible to send mooks to their doom if there's a cliff nearby, especially during the Prague levels on the towers. This is also how Von Beck finally dies.
  • 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, he has to steal documents and a uniform to get past the security and reach the gondola.
  • Drill Tank: Von Beck tries to kill Indy late in the game with one in "Von Beck's Revenge".
  • Dual Boss: The Feng Twins, who're fought like standard human enemies but are faster and can use combined attacks.
  • Eaten Alive: Happens to Indy if he gets too close to the Kraken during the boss battle, which can happen if he gets too many jellyfish on him.
  • Elemental Powers: Downplayed but present: if you take a close look during the final boss battle you'll notice that the four power ups you need are themed with the four elements. Too bad though that Chinese lore has five elements (earth, wood, metal, fire, water).
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Pa Cheng, the "Dragon's Claw", a precision guided Fuuma Shuriken which is used to defeat the last two bosses and navigate the last levels.
  • Elite Mooks: Several examples:
    • The Nazi flamethrower mooks are very tough and annoying to fight
    • The Nazi officers are much faster than the ordinary soldiers.
    • The Black Dragon palace guards can soak a huge amount of damage and are very deadly with their spears.
  • Escape Sequence: The Drill Tank segment.
  • Evil Sorcerer: What Kai really is, and able to summon a demon named Kong Tien.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: In the Prague level. There's even a practical lever to pull it on a quartet of unsuspecting Nazis.
  • Faux Fluency:
    • Indy's attempt at speaking Chinese is pretty miserable.
    • Also, a Gestapo mook pronounces "strudel" wrong — a German would pronounce it more like "schtrudl".
  • Fedora of Asskicking: It's Indiana Jones. Of course he's got his fedora. Which can be knocked off in a fight and must be retrieved afterward.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the keys to the inner sanctum of Poseidon's Temple is the "Kraken Coin", pictured on a pillar outside of the hall as a octopus-like being with red "eyes" in his mouth. You get to fight the very same beast in the final area (aptly named, The Lair of the Kraken).
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The German flamethrower units are clad in gas masks and long black coats.
  • Giant Squid: There's a boss fight against one, the Kraken, under Istanbul. This one, however, doesn't attack with Combat Tentacles, but by sending poisonous jellyfish at you.
  • 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.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Thrown wine bottles are surprisingly effective against mooks.
  • Groin Attack: Possible to use against enemies, resulting in a scream of pain and few secs of stun. Indy can be on the receiving end against the Feng Twins.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Emperor Huang Di, if his first words during his short resurrection near the end are of any indication.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Upon losing control of the Heart of the Dragon, Kai is devoured by the very dragon he summoned.
  • Hollywood Acid: You have to use vials of this (later a broken pipe oozing it) to defeat the Homunculus.
  • Human Sacrifice: Of Mei Ying, of course. To a demon.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Marshal Kai's scenes with a caged Mei Ying. Subverted in that he intends to offer her to his master Kong Tien rather than take her as a spouse as he originally intended to.
  • Impossibly-Low Neckline: The Feng Twins, again.
  • 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.
  • Immune to Bullets: Most supernatural enemies and bosses are completely immune to bullets, while the others are nearly so. For example, the Feng twins will almost always deflect bullets with their fans, while ghouls will stagger when hit, but take little to no actual damage.
  • Indy Hat Roll: Some closing doors force you to do this.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall: When Indy tries to open a locked door: "That's not gonna work."
  • "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: The Escape Sequence is seen from the point of view of the Drill Tank chasing Indy.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Indy, ever the Combat Pragmatist, can do this to enemy mooks.
  • Kill It with Fire: In Kong Tien's temple, you can use the blue torch to bludgeon the ghouls to death, setting them ablaze.
  • Machete Mayhem: One of the first additional weapons. You mostly use it to cut through foliage and overgrown vines.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Heart of Koru Watu can only be reached by crossing a pool where a humongous albino crocodile swims. The way to the third fragment of the mirror under Istanbul is guarded by a large Kraken.
  • 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 not only is heavily themed after crocodiles but is also guarded by a giant albino croc, to which Indy personally introduces Von Beck.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The last two levels features undead ghouls possessed by yellow wraith thingies that you must kill. In the tomb of the Emperor, some of these spirits will actually possess freshly killed mooks.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game can be rather challenging, owing to tricky controls and Checkpoint 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.
  • No Name Given: The red-clothed Feng twin is identified as "Mei Mei", but her green-clad sister is never identified.
  • Not Quite Dead: Von Beck was seen being pulled beneath the waters by the albino crocolisk in Ceylon, a beast that would One-Hit Kill Indy if it managed to catch up up to him. Though he was presumed to be deceased, Von Beck somehow either killed it or otherwise escaped it, though not without suffering greatly and losing an eye in the process.
  • Optional Stealth: There are some missions where you're told to be "stealthy" and sneak unnoticed into buildings. You can still punch and kick the ass of every single mook you come across without penalty. In certain areas however, if you're spotted by the Nazis they'll activate an alarm that will close some of the doors, forcing you to turn it off.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: In the Final Boss fight, Kai summons one with the power of the Heart of the Dragon. Unlike typical Chinese dragons, this one is mindless and breathes fire.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The last key required to proceed in Prague is the "Crystal Soul"... which is a glass ball with a fiery orange light inside, found on an odd contraption connected by tubes to a throne occupied by a red-robed skeleton, implying that it's actually a soul. That you deliver to a demonic-looking statue which then plunges back into a pit of fire.
  • 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.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Pa Cheng will automatically lock on the target you're facing and try to home on it, returning to Indy's hand in no time.
  • Puzzle Boss: The second and third bosses, the Homunculus and the Kraken, cannot be fought with conventional means: the former is immune to everything you can throw at him, forcing you to douse him with the acid vials scattered in the lab. The Kraken has to be driven away with the special speargun so that you can destroy the four pillars with the demo charges.
  • 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.
  • Run or Die: In "Von Beck's Revenge", Von Beck decides to run Indy down with a Drill Tank. It's too tough for conventional weaponry, so all Indy can do is run his ass off.
  • 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.
  • Sinister Scimitar: Seen in Istanbul with the turkish guards wielding yatagan and in China with goons armed with curved swords. While Indy can pick up and use them, he can only take the yatagan with him, but will exchange it for a machete asap.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Mei Ying suffers from this. Then again, she was at a disadvantage.
  • 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.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Averted with Indy, who can hold his breath for a pretty decent amount of time underwater. Played straight with enemy Mooks, who die instantly if they fall in deep water.
  • Take Over the World: Kai's real objective.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Possessed Mei Ying gives one to Jones before tossing him on a balcony for the boss battle.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the cutscene in the middle of the Penglai Lagoon sequence, it's obvious that while Kai and the Nazis are allied, they do not get along: the former considers the Nazi incompetents, the latter thinks Kai is too suspicious and plans to get rid of him as soon as the Heart of the Dragon is recovered.
  • This Is a Drill: The infamous Drill Tank chase sequence.
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: Indy finds a functioning one hidden in the clocktower of Prague's castle. He uses it in a cutscene to reach the isolated Vega Tower.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Albrecht Von Beck and his goons are the main antagonists on several levels. However, it's eventually revealed that Kai's the real mastermind.
  • 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. Even the machete will do. Also, luckily, Indy can spot them from dry land and can potentially drive them off with explosives or gunfire - and as they are also happy to attack Mooks, Indy can use them to his advantage in a fight.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: Marshall Kai is the one who hired Indy to locate the remaining pieces of the Mirror of Dreams and find the Emperor's Tomb. Though ostensibly working on behalf of the Republic of China, he had his own agenda as the cult leader of the Black Dragon Triad.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The first chapter of the game takes place in Ceylon, AKA Sri Lanka, with the accompanying jungle and ruins.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: The Kraken. Namely, the room does have areas out of the water, but the battle itself must take place underwater. Fortunately, the monster doesn't leave his nest, but will try to drag you to him.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: Several times, including a chase scene through Hong Kong and defending a cable car from fighter planes.
  • Villain Has a Point: Though it's a discussion between villains, when Von Beck angrily asks Kai why he betrayed them by hiring Jones, Kai points out that Jones made more progress in two weeks than they did in two years.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: The Pa Cheng can be used to harm demons and permanently get rid of those floating yellow wraiths.
  • Whip It Good: This is an Indiana Jones game, what were you expecting? His bull-whip serves as a weapon and platforming tool.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Indiana vs the Feng twins. It's not possible to continue the game without beating them up. Indy lampshades this, saying that he doesn't normally hit women, but he'll make an exception for the Feng twins.
  • Yellow Peril: Marshall Kai and the Black Dragon triad are the main antagonists of the game, working with Von Beck and his Nazi henchmen to get their claws on the Heart of the Dragon.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Somewhat justified given that many of the foes are uniformed guards/soldiers or masked assassins etc. But the first chapter in Ceylon has you fight and kill the same two ivory hunters over and over and over again — a Russian and a South African.


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