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Video Game / Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

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Indy: "Hi! I'm selling fine leather jackets like the one I'm wearing."

Two video games by LucasArts released in 1989, based on the popular Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade movie.

The first (and the most well known) is an Adventure Game with painted cinematic screen-by-screen backgrounds, while the second, subtitled "the action game", is a standard Platform Game. Another console game with the same name was released years later; these two are mostly forgotten today.

This article discusses mainly the 1989 Point-and-Click graphic adventure game, developed by Ron Gilbert, David Fox, Noah Falstein and Steve Purcell.

The plot closely follows, and expands upon , the film of the same name. As the game begins, Indiana Jones has returned to his college, after reclaiming the Cross of Coronado. He is approached by businessman Walter Donovan, who tells him about the Holy Grail, and of the disappearance of Indy's father.


Indy then travels to some of the places seen in the movie, such as Venice and the catacombs, after meeting fellow archeologist Elsa Schneider. In the process he finds his father held captive in the Brunwald Castle, after passing through the mazelike corridors, fighting and avoiding guards. Then Elsa's double role is revealed when she steals the Grail Diary from Indy. After escaping, father and son pass through Berlin to reclaim the Diary and have a brief meeting with Hitler. Then they reach an airport, from where they intend to seek the Valley of the Crescent Moon, by Zeppelin or biplane.

Several key elements of the film were not included while many other are revisited and done different. In keeping with Indiana's action-man persona, the game also features pure action scenes. Unlike most LucasFilm adventures, you can die.


Two PC versions of the game were released, one with 16 color EGA graphics, and one with 256 color VGA graphics.

A new Indiana Jones adventure game was released by LucasArts in 1992, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.

In 2009 the game was re-released on the PC, directly downloadable through Steam.

Tropes featured in this adventure game include:

  • 100% Completion: The game has "Indy Quotient" as a score. It's two separate scores: one for what you had gained during the current playthrough, and another one which kept track of all score-giving actions you have accomplished in the game on any play. To gain full score in the latter includes doing things which are nearly impossible, make the last puzzle a lucky guess (for instance bluffing or beating the safe box guard instead of giving him a painting) or result in an instant death, such as punching Hitler in public.
  • Actionized Adaptation: Inverted, as the game removes a number of action sequences that (admittedly) would've been hard to pull off in a Point-and-Click game.
  • Actor Allusion: Well, to Harrison Ford, anyway:
    • In Indy's office there is a thousand-year-old falcon, it means a lot to him.
    • In one line of dialogue, Indy introduces himself as "Robert McFalfa", a nod to the Bob Falfa character played by Ford in American Graffiti.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword is completely absent, and so are Sallah and Hatay.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Many locations from the two hours long movie are logically expanded in the adventure game. Most notably Venice's catacombs and Castle Brunwald.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist
  • The Alcoholic: A guard in the first floor of the castle, he mentions that Helmut, also on the first floor, is his only fellow drinker. All the guards will refuse to drink on duty, but Helmut will indeed accept a jar of ale and one successful tree of dialogue with him is about alcohol.
  • All There in the Manual: The game has metapuzzles. Guessing the correct (and randomized) Grail requires a combination of in-game information and contents / tips from the manual. The game originally came packaged with its own Grail diary but such booklet was omitted in some editions. See also Feelies and Pixel Hunt below.
  • Angry Guard Dog: An Alsatian one guards Vogel's office at the castle top level
  • Artifact of Death: Any of the false Grails.
  • Artistic License – History: The tough ticket taker mentions he won a boxing Gold Medal in the 1934 Olympics. There were none that year, with the closest being Berlin 1936 and Los Angeles 1932.
  • Balcony Escape: Prominent during the castle segment, but only for Indy. Henry points out he's decidedly not following his son through a window.
  • Black Comedy: Loaded with it far more than even the original series. Even the shooting of Indy's father is treated with a touch of comedy!
    Indy: Donovan, Donovan, Donovan. There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING that could convince me to get the Grail for your purposes.
    Walter: (Shoots Henry)
    Indy: Except maybe that.
  • Boxing Battler: While the films never portray Indy's hand-to-hand combat skills as anything more than Good Old Fisticuffs, this game shows him sparring with Barnett College's boxing coach in his off-hours. This comprises the game's combat tutorial. It's explicitly noted in dialogue that this is his way of practicing for pummeling Nazi agents.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall : "Hi, I'm Indiana Jones, welcome to my game," right at the beginning. Indiana also reacts to the soundtrack playing his theme when he changes clothes.
  • Can-Crushing Cranium: Biff the Nazi's skull is so armor-plated, he can crush a beer stein, or even a giant trophy.
  • Censor Box: A Running Gag. It covers Indy when he changes clothes or dies messily.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase
  • Checkpoint Charlie: Up to seven controls before Indiana leaves Germany.
  • Chekhov's Gun / Chekhov's Boomerang: The objects picked up by indy, a trait of the adventure game genre.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The boxing training at the start of the game. Indiana fights several crucial fights against the nazis later. Some of them warn about their proficiency
  • Circling Birdies: Done with swastikas instead for knocked out Nazi guards, except for Biff, who displays beer jars. Dots or nothing is used for civilians.
  • Circular Reasoning: Indiana pulls it with varying degrees of success when the guards ask about his authorization, he points out he wouldn't be there if he didn't have authorization.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: The axe of the suit of armor that releases the Joneses. It can also lead to a family unfriendly-Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Copy Protection:
    • In the original EGA version, Marcus would ask Indy to translate some symbols for him, which would need to be looked up in the included translation table. Failing would put the game in "demo mode", which disables saving and loading, and Indy, at Donovan's place, would fail to translate a tablet concerning the Holy Grail (Indy mistakenly translates it as "Holy Grain"), prompting Donovan to say "Seems you're just an illegitimate copy of the man I thought you were." This protection was removed in the VGA re-release.
    • The randomized final puzzle is solved by a combination of in-game and external information from the manual. See also All There in the Manual above and Feelies below.
  • Death by Adaptation: Indiana himself can die in one of the conclusive endings.
  • Diagonal Billing: The above-mentioned Ron Gilbert, David Fox and Noah Falstein are credited in this way during the intro.
  • Dialogue Tree: First appearance in a SCUMM game, and later adventure games used a rather similar style of picking choices from a list. However, most appearances of the dialogue were one-shot, and requires picking a specific choices to avoid potentially difficult combat.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: As an alternative to the paragraph below, Indy can offer Hitler something to autograph, and the Führer will oblige. Note that in the film, the scene is a throwaway gag, but in the game, depending on what is offered, the signed object may actually be useful.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Played with Hitler, close enough. Indy can punch Hitler in the face during their encounter, but then you break more than your arm as one of his guards proceeds to gun you down.
  • Disappeared Dad: Indiana's father. Looking for him is a major arc of the game.
  • Door to Before: There are two instances in the Venice Catacombs. First is a manhole cover that leads to a restaurant, which needs to be used because the library is now closed. The second is with the knight's room, which is visible from locked grating near said manhole. Navigating through the catacombs requires solving many puzzles, and the return requires unlocking the grating from within the room
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: The game punishes the player for being a bit too clever in some branches. If Indy gives the fake diary or is able to escape the Castle with Henry undetected, they will miss Berlin completely and with it not only puzzles, game content and cutscenes, but also the chance of getting an easy bypass of the roadblocks.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: An important gameplay aspect, in Castle Brunwald most guards can only be persuaded while wearing a specific type of attire.
  • Dungeon Bypass: The whole Zeppelin part of the game can be skipped if you just steal the biplane from the airstrip. Doing so requires a complex series of button presses that are only detailed in one book in the library that you're likely to miss, but it lets you skip one of the most difficult parts of the game, including a giant top-down maze with many baddies to fight.
  • Earthquakes Cause Fissures: If the grail crosses the seal. Also Collapsing Lair.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Even if the Joneses destroy all the intercepting aircraft (18!), their biplane still goes down before leaving Germany, running out of fuel instead. On the sunny side, this means only one roadblock.
  • Fake Platform: Titles in the third grail trial.
  • Feelies : The game came packaged with a hard-copy Grail Diary. The very detailed 34-page booklet contains Henry's field research about the Grail and doubles as a subtle Copy Protection method, as the in-game information resorts to it. The fine quality of the book made it look like a collector's item and some editors didn't realize the booklet was not a cosmetic addition so it was not included in any form in some versions. Wired wrote an article praising the quality of this feelie. The Steam version fortunately has it in a PDF file.
  • Ghostapo: Nazis and the Holy Grail, immortal Hitler... Indy's quest is the prevention of the trope.
  • Giant Mook: Biff the Nazi in Castle Brunwald. He is intended to be unbeatable while sober (though one very patient player has managed to do it). However, he's so huge that just a regular stein of ale won't make him drunk; he'll just chug it to no effect and destroy it with his Can-Crushing Cranium. You'll have to find a larger container to do the job.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In several places, Indy or Henry can die in a grisly fashion, but a Censor Box covers the results.
  • Historical Domain Character: Indy meets Der Führer himself, and can even punch him. Reality and a game over screen ensues.
  • Historical In-Joke: A lot of plaques in the library are attributed to historical figures, though mostly to poke fun at them or some other kind of Shout-Out, for example:
    "I love the military books here, but they had the gall to divide them into three parts."—J. Caesar
  • Holy Grail: What everyone is after.
  • Immortality Seeker: Hitler and the Nazis. The Holy Grail is the Immortality Inducer.
  • Impersonating an Officer: The Nazis not only speak English, but also buy some of Indy's impersonation attempts, with or without an uniform.
  • Informing the Fourth Wall
  • Ironic Echo: "Why are you all wet?" "Don't ask."
  • It Belongs in a Museum
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Most of the objects, with the occasional Red Herring. Given the alternative ways to solve the puzzles, an object could be useful in one game and left unused in another.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: The Have a Nice Death screens include a brief text about Hitler and the Nazis taking over the world once Indiana Jones is not there to stop their plans. Indiana becomes a servant who cleans nazi relics and junk for the rest of his life.
  • Killed Offscreen: Donovan in the temple trials. He's eager to follow Indy, but unlike in the movie, he fails and Elsa reports that he just lost his head.
  • Kill It with Water: The alarm system at the castle is disabled by pouring liquid over it.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Including a Five-Finger Discount to get Zeppelin tickets.
  • Last Disc Magic: At the point where you meet Adolf Hitler, you have to offer him one of your inventory items to sign to continue the game. You can offer him the Grail Diary as in the movie, which does nothing, or it's possible to have him sign a travel pass, which will automatically let you bypass the final puzzles before the Grail; all Nazi roadblocks by showing it, avoiding a lot of dialogue and other inventory/fighting puzzles. A third option is to have him sign a copy of Mein Kampf, which is only useful to gameplay in that it will allow you to bribe one road-guard.
  • MacGuffin: The Holy Grail. Arguably a Plot Device since it's actually used once or twice at the end of the game.
  • MacGyvering
  • The Maze
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on the actions done with the Grail in the final temple. Indy can also die midgame.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • All the grails look like "the cup of a carpenter" when examined.
    • If the temple is left intact in one of the endings, the inmortal knight praises Indy and remarks "You should have seen the wreck this place was in after the last guys left". Also a Noodle Incident.
  • No Swastikas: The German version is heavily bowdlerized, to comical levels, and swastikas are black squares and blank circles. This is overlooked when a guard is knocked out during a fist fight and stars in swastika form appear over his head.
  • NPC Amnesia: Averted both the password variant and this trope in general by making you fist-fight any guards you fail to bluff your way past. Also, if an already bluffed guard sees Indiana in an attire different than the one used for his cover story, the guard will spot the ruse and become hostile. One of the guards won't object after seeing Indy going out of a window only to return later throuh a door, as long as Indy is still in Nazi uniform.
  • Off with His Head!: One of the Grail traps.
  • Patrolling Mook: The floors of the castle are heavily patrolled by mooks.
  • Permanently Missable Content: The game has several points of no return, although none of them render the game unwinnable:
    • Once you enter the catacombs in Venice, the library will close, and the guard that shows up prevents you from returning the way you came. This makes it impossible to get the three library books if you haven't already collected them.
    • Pulling the wooden plug in the catacombs makes the inscriptions describing the Grail permanently inaccessible. You're required to do this in order to proceed, but doing so before reading the inscriptions means that you'll have to make, at best, a one-in-five guess which is the real Grail at the end.
    • You won't be able travel back to New York once you look into the knight's casket in the Venice catacombs. This prevents you from retrieving the fake Grail diary or the trophy painting. The latter is more problematic, because you can't get the travel pass (which can make encounters with checkpoint guards easier) or view the painting of the real Grail in Brunwald Castle. This means that you won't be able to pick the real Grail at the end without some guessing. Even if you do get the trophy painting, you can still leave Brunwald Castle without taking the pass or viewing the Grail painting.
    • There is only one chance to steal the tickets in the airport, as the pertinent dialog option is gone after the first usage.
  • Pixel Hunt:
    • There is a library filling five to ten screens, in which three individual items labeled "book" have to be found in a large generic mass labeled "books". However, it at least has a command ("What is") that displays item names when hovering the mouse over them, even before a click.
    • Even worse is right near the beginning of the game, where you need to find a piece of "sticky tape" stuck to a fallen bookshelf, as said object is only a few pixels wide. It's more visible in the 256 colors version.
    • There's a puzzle towards the end that, initially, can seem even worse. Just like in the movie, the buzzsaws in the Grail temple have to be passed by kneeling...however, there is no "kneel" command. The actual solution is to click the walking cursor on a small, specific patch of ground when trying to pass through the trap's trigger zone; while this seems like unfair pixel hunting at first, it's actually a meta-puzzle. The game comes packaged with its own Grail diary, a booklet containing veiled hints on a number of game puzzles; one of the drawings in the diary is an illustration of the tunnel floor, with an X mark clearly indicating where to stand to avoid being decapitated. This is meant to be a parallel to the movie; just as Indy uses his father's diary to solve puzzles throughout the movie, the player is meant to use the diary booklet to assist in their own puzzle-solving. That doubled as a brutal piece of Copy Protection, if you gave up too quickly.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: Henry's Diary of the Grail, with vital information for the quest. Even if you have its exact random knowledge from a savegame, the game won't let you progress in Venice unless you have it in your inventory (Having Henry's package is enough, Indy doesn't actually need to open it).
  • Press X to Die: Indy meets Hitler, with an armed German soldier behind him, and one of the options is "throw a punch." It's exactly as good an idea as you would expect... although doing this is a requirement for 100% Completion.
  • Ransacked Room: Henry's.
  • Rapid Aging: The fate of anyone who drinks from the wrong grail.
  • Replay Value: Multiple Endings and non linear puzzles, there are alternative ways to bypass guards, enemies and Hitler.
  • Running Gag: Indiana starts the game with his clothes soaked, and answers Don't Ask when the question is raised. The situation is repeated with other characters later. A nod to the movie too where adult Indiana is first shown in the middle of a tempest at sea and ends up in a lifesaver.
  • Save-Game Limits: Savegames are disabled for the final trials. A sign before entering the grail temple reads "If you thinkest life is but a game, be warned: beyond this point, THOU CANST NOT BE SAVED". The game automatically goes back to the first trial if you fail any of those quests (and die).
    • The savegames are also disabled in the middle of dialogues and action scenes, a recurrent issue with SCUMM-based games those days.
  • Save Scumming: You can die in an (early) LucasArts game! The encounters and fights at Castle Brunwald and onboard the Zeppelin encourage the trope.
  • Schmuck Bait: The game will let you punch Colonel Vogel or even Adolf Hitler while a soldier has a machine gun pointed at you. No points for guessing what happens next (although breaking Hitler's nose does add 10 points to your losing score).
  • Self-Destructing Security: The Holy Grail is protected by many layers of secrets, guards and traps. The final resort, however, is that the Grail can never pass beyond "The Great Seal". Doing so results in the place self destructing and the Grail being lost forever if you fail to retrieve it.
  • Shout-Out: Many to other LucasArts / LucasFilm games and works, a customary house tradition.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: If you're very quick with your Pixel Hunting, it's possible to pick up the Holy Grail before Elsa can grab it and then return it to the immortal knight, allowing Elsa to live. If you do this, she gets a line in the "We named the ''dog'' Indiana," discussion.
    Elsa: "Hm... didn't my father have a secretary named Elsa?"
  • Storming the Castle: Castle Brunwald. Subtlety is better than force, since Indiana's health does not regenerate fully after a rough fight.
  • Teamwork Puzzle Game: Some optional puzzles require switching between Indiana and Henry Jones:
    • In the airport, one can distract a man while the other steals the tickets from his pocket.
    • In the zeppelin, Henry can request a song from the piano player to lure out the radio man, so that Indy can sabotage the radio and steal the wrench.
  • Temple of Doom. With Durable Deathtraps.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The villains of the game.
  • Timed Mission: A possibility. If you fail to destroy the radio, or if you take too long after destroying it, the Zeppelin turns around, and after a time, it returns to Berlin, where Vogel has the Joneses taken to the firing squad.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Why did Indy think punching Hitler in the face in front of an armed Nazi soldier a good idea?
    Indy: Nazis! I HATE Nazis! (punches Hitler)
    Soldier: (shoots Indy)
  • Tricked into Signing: The player can get Hitler to autograph a travel pass that will get you past all the Nazi-controlled checkpoints later on.
  • Travel Montage: As in the movie.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The action sequences.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: Despite this being an Indy game, if he punches Hitler during their brief meeting, the soldier behind him unloads his gun into him. Game over.
    • Even if Indy is disguised as a servant or an officer, the Nazis, not recognizing him, are still suspicious, requiring Indy to talk his way past them. Also, if they see him in another outfit later, they'll realize he's an impostor and attack. Keep in mind how old the game is.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Indiana Jones is an adventure game written just before the "no-die" and "no-fatal-mistake" Ron Gilbert's policy. Rare but possible:
    • The beer keg needed to drug and beat Biff can be drained if Indy leaves the spigot open. There is no reason to manually open the spigot - Indy does this automatically when you use the stein or trophy on it.
    • The radio operator on the zeppelin can only be enticed out of his room four times, and will not leave if the radio has been broken. If this state occurs while the ladder remains undeployed and you don't have the wrench, the game becomes unwinnable, because you have no way of reaching the parasite biplane to escape. The game does not end immediately when this happens, but does end soon afterward when the zeppelin reaches Berlin and the Joneses are executed. The unwinnable state also occurs if you give the operator the stolen wrench when confronted if the ladder has not already been deployed.
    • The crossed references needed to identify the true Grail —it's random every game— can be missed in Venice (by design if the wooden plug is removed before examining the contiguous room) and in the castle if Indiana didn't pick up the —inaccessible by then— painting at Henry's house. Not fatal per-se but it makes the deadly last puzzle a luck based pick. Aggravated in many versions that don't include the booklet with the off-game information needed to deduce the matter.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: You can't save in it (and there is a sign right outside implying such). When you go in, you see a severed head go bouncing by.
    Indy: Yep, this is the place.
  • Whip It Good. And other related Indiana's trademark whip antics.
  • Wicked Cultured: One of the guards in the castle is an intellectual that can be bypassed if Indiana gives him a first edition of Mein Kampf. Is also one the toughest fighters.