Indiana Jones is a staple of 20th Century cinema. Entertaining and engaging, Steven Spielberg’s trilogy of movies are iconic in their own merits and have succeeded far beyond the cinema screen into other platforms. Video games have accompanied the Indiana Jones movies since the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 and have followed the franchise all the way up until 2009 with many titles developed.
In early incarnations of Indiana Jones on consoles and PC, the games were usually just video game versions of the films, using the plot of the movies and their settings although there were the occasional outliers. Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom and Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients were original stories released in 1984 and 1987 respectively but this didn’t stop the release of four games revolving around the plot of The Last Crusade between 1989 and 1994.
Consequently, Indiana Jones video games proved to be a profitable market. After the release of The Last Crusade and after the licensed movie games had died down, creativity began to flourish with original stories flooding the market. These included Indiana Jones and the Instruments of Chaos, The Infernal Machine, The Fate of Atlantis and The Emperor’s Tomb. However, the release of LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues marked the end of the franchise and it seemed like the demand for a new instalment had dwindled.
But why? Shouldn't there still be enough potential in Indy's world to warrant more games? Well, to find out why, you need to look into another adventurous character. And it all started with dual wielded pistols...
5. A New Rival...
This gradual shift away from the Indiana Jones product, in its early stages, is likely due to increasingly popular Tomb Raider series of video games. Lara Croft’s gun-toting trilogy of third person action platformers were met with relatively positive reception and allowed for a new character to assert its strong position in the industry. A more acrobatic game with a focus on action and exploration, Tomb Raider allowed for a light-hearted and modern take on the genre compared with Indiana Jones’ historic setting of Pre-Second World War.
The trilogy of Tomb Raider games, releasing every year from 1996 to 1999, was so successful that the series continued to release sequel after sequel into the early 2000’s. From the first Tomb Raider in 1996 up until 2008, nine mainline entries had been developed and released compared to the two Indiana Jones games.
Even with these releases, the exploits of Dr. Jones had been completely overshadowed by a franchise which was a clear influence of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ source material. Furthermore, Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine, although receiving favourable reviews was criticised for allegedly being too similar to Tomb Raider. The Indiana Jones brand had effectively been cast aside, a massive hit for fans of the series who were hoping for more adventures.
To make matters worse for Indy fans, Tomb Raider had ascended into a multi-platform brand. Two movies were made and grossed a decent amount of money although the second chapter did not do as well financially. These movies were panned quite harshly by critics like most movies based on video games however this indicated the significance of the brand in comparison to Indiana Jones, a franchise which had not released a movie since 1989.