When I first started playing video games in earnest, words like “Atari” and “arcade” were commonplace. “Nintendo” and “Mario” soon followed, and with them came a chasm-like leap in video game technology. After spending countless hours with relatively simple (but not simplistic) games like Pole Position and Defender, I was utterly wowed by what would eventually become our very small NES catalog: Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Super Mario 3, and Tecmo Super Bowl. A similar thing would happen when we obtained the SNES and I was introduced to the game-to-end-all-games, Super Metroid. But in between the two consoles, I stumbled into the relatively nascent (but not new) world of PC gaming, where I found a catalog of games that remain as magical now as they did then – the adventure games of LucasArts.
Beloved by many a classic game fan, LucasArts’ adventure games came with a style all their own. Full of color and character, once you see a LucasArts’ adventure game, there’s no mistaking it for anything else. My short foray into these games began with one of the most memorable scenarios that I had ever experienced up to that point with games: the interactive introduction to Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. (P. S. If you’re into point-and-click games, this one’s a must!)
Video from YouTube user mikosoft
Before Fate of Atlantis (I played the version with a voice track), starting a game meant pressing the “start” button, maybe having to choose between one or two players, and then playing. You were dropped into a level and off you went, jumping, shooting, chomping, throwing, moving. Whatever you had to do, you just started doing it without much forethought. But in Fate of Atlantis, rather than just “starting,” you were given a chance to explore. In swung our titular hero, Indiana Jones, ready to find a special artifact, and instead of simply moving him from point A to point B, you moved the cursor around the screen to different objects that Indy would then describe. Click on the right object, and poor Indy suffered in various moments that also progressed the scene. It was a humorous and inventive way to introduce players to both the game’s controls and its story.
The beginning of Fate of Atlantis remains burned in my mind solely because of how different it was from anything I had played before. Here was a game that didn’t involve well-timed jumps, preciseness in defeating enemies, or fiddling around with multiple buttons. Instead, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis required curiosity, attention, and ingenuity. I must admit that I was sorely lacking in a least a few of those qualities, so it took me a while get through my first play though, but the effort was worth it. I had no idea then of the breadth of LucasArts’ catalog; Fate of Atlantis was a drop in the bucket. After it, I knew that I had to delve deeper. It was through LucasArts’ releases that I learned games could be more than just manipulating pixels on a screen to get a high score. They could be about discovering the unknown, telling vast stories, and interacting with new worlds — the same notions that continue to shape the many of the games that we play today.
Lede image captured from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (© LucasArts).