Raiders of the Lost Block

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So last week saw the release of the latest in Travellers Tales Lego inspired game …. Lego Indiana Jones – The Original Adventures

Previously they’ve turned out highly enjoyable recreations of the Star Wars universe, with both humorous takes on classic scenes and engaging game play for kids of all ages. So there were high hopes for this one.

And they haven’t disappointed ….

If you’ve played any of the previous Star Wars Lego games you’ll know what to expect in the graphics department. The only thing they’ve done here is change the setting to match those of the 3 original Indy movies (no Kingdom of the Crystal Skull nonsense here). The cut scenes again take memorable/key scenes from the movies and render them in “3D block-o-vision” and inject the humour that was found in the Star Wars games.
The Lego versions of Indy and Co. are pretty good and you’ll be able to tell which character is which quite easily. The scenery is detailed and well thought out as well. It’s the little graphical touches that’ll make you smile thought .. Indy’s whip, for example, is a lego piece complete with a connector on the end.

The audio is good too …. You’ll be spotting segments of the movie scores throughout the game, normally at crucial/dramatic moments. As with the Star Wars games there’s no voice acting for the characters at all (well you try moving your mouth when your heads made from plastic) but given the expressions that are painted across their faces you won’t miss it. The audio fits in well without it overpowering the sound effects associated with what’s going on on screen.

So we’ve established that the look and sound of the game is pretty much what you’d expected when you picked up the game. The same Lego-based shenanigans you saw in Star Wars but with an Indy theme …. and that is no bad thing, but how did the game play.

They had to change the puzzle mechanic for the Indy games for the obvious reason …. you don’t get Indy messing about with “The Force”
This rules out any magic waving of arms to pull items from afar and flip switches, what you end up with is a wrench (or it might be a spanner) and a shovel. With both of these you can dig up buried items and fix machines that activate little platforms and vehicles.
You’ll find quite a lot of co-operative puzzles for your characters to get plastic noggins round following the staple of switches to activate, gaps to traverse and things to locate to allow you to build bigger things.
Weapons are aquired by reducing the enemies that have them to their component parts (and I still don’t get tired of seeing them explode into a little shower of Lego bricks) but if there aren’t any of those around you can often throw objects or just resort to good old fashioned fisticuffs. Co-op is at the heart of this game, although also a bit of a question as well but I’ll get to that in a minute, and if you’re not playing with a friend it doesn’t detract from the gameplay. The AI controlling your companion is capable of dispensing as swift a blocky end as you are, and they always know what to do and where to jump when it comes to the puzzles (once you’re on the right track of course). You’ll also find yourself being forced to switch characters due to their “phobias”, for example, Indy is scared of snakes and cowers when he gets too close to them and you have to back him away from the hissing reptile.
This mechanic works fantastically both within the realms of the “world” that this is set in and for the puzzles themselves.

Intialy you’ll run through the game on Story Mode to unlock the levels in Free Play mode .. which allows you to go back and fully explore the environment outside of the character constraints of the story on the quest for treasure chests and studs to buy extra characters and clothing.
The game features the build-a-character mode which resulted in many a weird creation Lego Star Wars, the parts are a tad more restrained here but it’s still amusing to switch Indy’s head onto Short Round’s body. The “menu” itself is a museum which is too be explored as well, as that too contains secrets and things to collect.

Yes, they had to tweak the formula that worked so well in Lego Star Wars but it doesn’t detract from the overall feel of the game which is one of fun.
You still get the “unlimited lives” to allow the younger (or less skilled older) player to progress through the game and there’s an adaptive AI to make it harder for the better player, but it’s got all the pieces it needs to be a good game and it makes good use of them. There are however a couple of negative points ….. The first one being the camera. In some instances it’d be nice to be able to move the camera more freely so we can get a better idea of the scenery and the hidden treasures. Several times I found myself making a “leap of faith” towards what I hoped was a ledge … only to find myself plummeting to my demise. It’s not bad to the extent that the game’s unplayable, not at all, in fact it’s pretty good for the vast majority of the game. It’s just those little instances that you’d like it to move a tad more than it actually does. The second gripe is related to Co-op play. The final incarnation of Lego Star Wars had online Co-op which was great fun, yet for some reason they chosen to omit this from Lego Indiana Jones which mystifies me …. but the fun is still there, you’ll just have to invite a mate over to come and enjoy it with you.

In a nutshell, this is a (whip) crackingly good game with plenty for kids of all ages. If you enjoyed Lego Star Wars you’ll enjoy this.

I can’t wait for the next offering from Traveller’s Tales …… Lego Batman


Gone fishin’ ?


Who knew getting a goldfish would be so much trauma …

After 5 years together and after living together for 4 of those years, the G/f and I decided at the weekend to get a pet.
Now we live in rented accommodation so we’re rather limited in our pet prospects … it was a choice of either something in a cage (i.e. hamster or gerbil) or some fish.

We opted for the fish due to their calm and soothing watch-ability, and the fact that they’re low maintenance.

Well, we thought they were low maintenance … got that bit slightly wrong.

Off we trotted to a local purveyor of fish type pets, only to be confronted by a mind-numbingly huge array of swimming things along with tanks, feed and all manner of gear. We collared a member of staff to talk tanks and find out exactly what we needed.

He showed us a few tanks and advised us on the stuff to get to treat the water properly so our impending pet would live a happy and comfortable life.
We’d need a tank, filter, water treating stuff (to remove all the chlorine and crap that the water company leaves in our tap water), some more stuff to add nice bacteria to the water, a little net and some food (bit of a no brainer that one) However the range of tanks they had on offer were slightly larger than we’d intended and as a result slightly pricier than we’d anticipated. After grabbing a free fish leaflet we thanked him for his help and left him to feed the piranhas.

We decided to head to a local garden centre that had a branch of a well respected aquarium company within it’s walls on the way back .. and with luck that had tanks that were the size that we were looking for (and as a result a more agreeable price too). We looked around for another member of staff to aid us in our quest for aquatic based lifeforms and eventually found one ….

Our initial thought was get tank and filter, choose fish, get home, set up tank, add water to tank, add fish to tank, job done …
Oooooooh no … nothing that simple.

We were told that we needed to leave the tank setup and running for at least 5 days before adding the fish to give the pump and water time to acclimatise for the fish after adding the water prep. stuff.

This did not please the G/f unit who was rather looking forwards to the calming influence of a couple of small finned fellows swimming around in a glass box. It also confused me slightly as the chap in the previous place and the leaflet we had in the car both said 24 hours but the sign in this store (cunningly located at knee level at the cash register) and the staff member both said that it’d be at least 5 days. We purchased the tank, filter and various water treatment chemicals along with some fake plants, a rather fetching fake tree stump thing and some very cool black and purple gravel and headed home without any fish 😦

So after spending 20 minutes or so getting rather wet, we now have sat in our lounge a rather nice looking fish tank … with no fish in it …..

Like I said at the top …. Who knew getting a goldfish would be so traumatic …