Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Top 30 Hardest NES Games Ever. Day 16

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Our midpoint game, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, is kind of a signal post and appropriately so.  You see from this point on there really is no turning back.  The next 15 games are truly some of the most evil and maliciously designed games anyone has ever played, NES or otherwise.  Up to this point, the games have been tough, but now they get mean.  For the record, I am going to go ahead and tell you now that I have beaten none of the games from here on out.  Every game going forward is so freaking hard that while it might be possible to beat it, the task was greater than your humble correspondent.  Thank you for coming along on this journey with me so far, and I hope you'll stick around as we roll on to #1.
As for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, what an amazingly deep and difficult game this is.  I've had this game since I was a kid, and it was only recently that I learned there is much more to it than what I had presumed was just an arcade-style adventure game.  As a kid I thought every level was like the first, only increasingly more complex and difficult.  It wouldn't be until just a few years ago that I would discover that the game had an ending and that the last couple of levels were very different and unique.  Being a fan of Indiana Jones anyway (not necessarily Temple of Doom, although it looks like cinema gold when compared to Crystal Skull...), and a fan of the game, I then decided that I must see these final levels and beat the game.
Ah, were it only that easy.  Forget about the final levels, the initial levels of IJToD are ball busters all their own.  Your goal is simple, navigate the mountainside and the mine tunnels, free the captured children and retrieve pieces of the map that will show you were the three stones are located in the final levels.  Accomplishing this goal is very difficult.  Your first major obstacle will be the controls.  They take some getting used to.  Indy maneuvers loosely and it is very easy to leap to your death into a pool of lava if you are not careful.  Once you get accustomed to moving Indy around, you'll have to learn how to navigate the levels, which are broken into two areas: mine and mountainside.  Early on the levels are straightforward, but later you will find there are certain areas that can only be accessed by getting off the mine car at the right time or taking the right door.  Get the level layout under control and then get ready to contend with the enemies, and IJToD has plenty of annoying enemies.  From the thugees who relentlessly pursue you to the endlessly infuriating bats, spiders, and snakes that always beset you when you need it the least, IJToD seems to have the most obnoxious enemy catalog of any game out there.  All of the baddies respawn infinitely and they all move around like they are on crack.  Nothing inspires more rage than making your way through a difficult area only to be felled by a runaway boulder or a bat that just swoops in out of nowhere.  This game has plenty of that and more. 

But suppose, like me, you are diligent enough to keep playing and playing until you have gotten a pretty good handle on the first eight levels and you even manage to cross the lava river in level 9 (a feat unto itself), all of that hard earned gaming will be for naught when you hit level 10.  You see, level 10 is where the stones are hidden, and if you collected enough map pieces you will be able to see the location of each before you start the level.  However, if you die while collecting the stones, any stones you collect will be taken away from you and scattered far and wide for you to find again.  This wouldn't be nearly so annoying except that by the time you get to level 10, most of your resources will have been depleted, you'll be very short on extra lives, and when the stones are scattered they are usually relocated in very far, difficult to reach places.  Furthermore, there is only one door that allows you to leave the level and finding it can be harder than finding the stones.  Basically, if you die, you have to do the level all over again completely.  And let me tell you, level 10 is evil.  It is the brother of 8-2 from Adventure Island and 5-1C from Ninja Gaiden III.  It is the kind of level that means the difference between success and failure.  When you hit level 10, you will either beat it and go on to win the game, or it will eat you alive and laugh at your ineffectiveness.  I hate level 10.

I have beaten level 10, but I was so excited from doing so that I botched the whole thing right at the end of level 11, and thus I have never seen the final level.  The difficulty in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is consistently hard throughout the game, but it is the final levels, 9-12, that really put top gamers to the test.  You get plenty of extra lives in the earlier levels to give you some padding, but you will not beat this game without a lot of luck in level 10.  I feel that the game is beatable, especially since I got so close myself, but it is not for the feint of heart and it will not be beaten easily by most.  There are only 14 NES games that are harder to beat than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Who said Stephen Hopkins doesn't know squat about good movies?

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