When I was a kid growing up, LEGO as a toy was pretty basic. You had various differently coloured, mainly squarish-shaped blocks, a few curvy ones, and - if you were lucky - you might also have had a few rather androgynous mini-figures, the differences between male and female usually coming down to little more than hairstyle. Then, as manufacturing processes got better, LEGO got a bit more adventurous - I can still remember the excitement one Christmas when I received a LEGO castle complete with knights... they even had little LEGO swords, shields, horses and everything!
Of course, kids these days would probably look back on my medieval castle (and related excitement) with scorn, seeing as now LEGO seems to come in just about any form you could desire - LEGO aliens, LEGO explorers, LEGO animals of all shapes and sizes, LEGO strippers (I may have imagined that one) and - of course - LEGO ranges based on a number of top movies and TV shows. Yes, you can get LEGO versions of superheroes, of Star Wars characters, and now even old (and I mean OLD) Harrison Ford is getting in on the act with plastic representations of everyone's favourite fedora-topped, whip-wielding archaeologist.
It's important to make one thing clear from the outset about this title: it's very, very similar to the games that preceded it. I say this because I know that while many, many gamers embraced the simple-yet-addictive gameplay and tongue-in-cheek humour of those first LEGO games, there were those who simply didn't like them. 'Boring', 'Tedious', 'For kids', and 'Why would I want to spend hours smashing up LEGO blocks to collect stuff?' were just a few of the comments I remember being bandied about when LEGO Star Wars first came on the scene. And for those people... well, if you really, really didn't like the LEGO Star Wars titles, then it's a simple fact that you won't like this one either. So you might as well stop reading now and go off and play The Sims or something.
For those of you though, who saw LEGO Star Wars as a light-hearted, very playable, at times downright hilarious parody of one of the best movie series' of all time, and one, surprisingly, which seemed to be equally as enjoyable for kids as it was for adults, then LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is certainly worth a look. As mentioned already, the format is almost identical to the previous games. You are offered a choice of the three original Indy movies (no Crystal Skull here people) each of which is divided into different levels that are set in and around the various key scenes in each movie. So expect to be running from the massive boulder in Raiders Of The Lost Ark and hopping into a mine cart for Temple of Doom. As you explore the levels, you have to perform tasks, solve simple puzzles and - to put it bluntly - smash the crap out of the scenery in order to reveal and collect LEGO 'studs'. These studs serve to boost your score, unlock bonus items and also act as currency, allowing you to buy things in the shop you find back in the lobby level - the lobby this time being Barnett College, a building more suitable for an eminent archaeologist than say, Mos Eisley Cantina.
As before, there are also various other secrets to be found, such as golden 'artefacts' (10 per level), special red LEGO bricks (one per level) and Map pieces (3 per level) each of which gives you access to certain bonuses once back at Indy's college. So basically, anyone who's played LEGO Star Wars will know exactly what to expect - all the same kind of gameplay as before, only this time instead of the outer-space Star Wars theme everything has a sandy, cob-web dusted Indiana Jones look to it. One of the biggest differences is probably the lack of the Force powers and - strangely enough - no lightsabers, however Indy has his trademark whip, and the supporting characters have a range of talents including using umbrellas to travel on zip-lines with, shovels to dig for hidden treasure, bottles to lob at enemies and even little pet monkeys which can be used to access areas of the level that the human characters can't get to.
The levels all incorporate various puzzles and secrets which can only be cracked with the help of certain specific characters - like trapdoors which only the small characters can use, or mystic totems which can only be activated by 'believers' - and because of this in order to fully complete the game and find everything you need to play through every level at least twice, once in 'Story' mode, where you are restricted to just the two or three characters who are the heroes of that part of the story, and then again in 'Freeplay' mode, where you are given a selection of the characters you have unlocked so far, and can swap between them at will by tapping the Touch Screen in order to tackle any puzzles that you couldn't do in Story mode.