Indiana Jones is such a cool movie series. It opens with a whip crackin’, wide-brimmed hat wearin’, gun slingin’ archaeologist who takes 25 minutes to swap around a small idol for a bag of sand. Come on! There was plenty of sweat for him to wipe off; it isn’t his fault! Then, the plan backfires and he runs out of the tomb running his ass off to escape the enormous boulder careening its way towards his person.
Now imagine a game that is derivative of this sort of movie. Same sort of adventurer, except he is so hardcore he only needs his bare hands to kill off club-wielding witch doctors with terrible reflexes and overgrown parrots who have escaped from their cages.
Montezuma’s Return is a story of a man who is really out to just make a shitload of cash. Well, that’s what I seem to put into the character’s mind. There’s no real backstory to the game, or any story at all, really. It’s just solving puzzles and beating the shit out of people, birds, rats, masked natives and other random people, animals and…things….
The gameplay is an interesting blend of your action game and your puzzle game with a good dose of platformer mixed in. Oh, did I mention it’s in first person? Well, you could probably guess that by the screenshots accompanying this review. But it’s still interesting, nonetheless.
Those two or three of us in the audience who have played or even have heard of Montezuma’sRevenge, the previous game in the series released over a decade beforehand, would enjoy seeing that 2D sidescroller turned into a vivid 3D landscape. There’s more puzzle solving in the 3D Return than Revenge, and the best thing about the puzzles is the fact that all you have at your disposal to solve them are punching, kicking and jumping. Environmental factors also play a part a huge part with many puzzles requiring their manipulation to solve.
And there are a wide range of environmental factors that affect you. Trampolines that light up like Christmas trees (somewhat unusual for primitive natives to have trampolines tag take you that high plus have LED’s embedded in the skin, eh?), rocking platforms, rickety bridges waving in the breeze, doors that decide to give you a thorough whacking if you get close to them, and even a randomly placed robot!
The graphics are nicely done for the time era, although there is one issue worthy of discussion. This game went crazy with the 3D acceleration features, most prominently the lighting of the damn thing. Every fucking thing in the game gives off some form of light. Small little bulges on a rope have their own light source; an insignificant rock in the middle of a 30 km by 30 km desert has its own light source; the creases on the skin where the joints of your fingers are have their own light source.
However, this really isn’t too much of a problem, since this game is never about realism. It’s setting out just to be fun, and that’s it. It’s like watching those early Saturday morning cartoons and playing a part. When you fall from a high height onto hard ground, stars flutter around your head like you’ve been hit with an anvil in a Roadrunner cartoon.
Montezuma’s Return is a nicely done game. Its focus is on fun and on using more lights than a Bon Jovi concert. The game looks nice and plays nice, even though the way your character moves will make you seasick if you aren’t used to it. Interesting enemies, fun puzzles, but a bit short; going back into the levels trying to get all the treasures you can and unlocking bonus rounds extends its life somewhat. It won’t scream for a greatest game of all time award, but its not a bad little game to have tucked away in the collection.