Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

If there's one thing Indiana Jones teaches us, it's to choose wisely. Whether it's selecting the cup from which Christ himself drank or the portable you choose to follow the brick-based adventures of Dr Jones, making wise decisions can be difficult. Fortunately with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, you can't go wrong. Even though it isn't the ideal portable game, it's packed with more than enough fun to make up for its faults.

Lego Indiana Jones remixes the first three films – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade – with bricks, brawls, and bounds. So platforming meets action as Indy and company go brick-to-brick with Nazi soldiers and cultists across 18 levels. Each stage plays out a notable scene from the movies, ranging from the exhilarating mine cart chase at the end of Temple of Doom to the unearthing of Sir Richard's Venetian tomb at the start of The Last Crusade. Interacting with these memorable scenarios makes the game enormously fun.

Ironically enough, the gameplay neither adds nor detracts from that enjoyment. Lego Indiana Jones borrows heavily from the formula established by Lego Star Wars, offering the same action-platforming, just rebuilt under Indy's name. Levels combine a mix of activities from fighting off enemies to solving simple platform challenges to constructing objects using Lego bricks.

Naturally, there are numerous items to collect, from treasure chests and artifacts to Lego studs that act as currency – you might as well earn a fortune while you seek out end-game glory. It's impossible to track down everything on your first time through the game, so reaching 100 per cent completion requires a value-packed second run. Finding every last piece of treasure is quite a challenge, making Indy's search for the Sankara stones look like an Easter egg hunt.

When it comes to tackling platform challenges and beating back enemies, anything goes. Every character possesses basic combat and platform skills, although there are special abilities specific to certain characters. Only Indy carries a whip, for example, which is essential in swinging across gaps and disarming foes. Indy's diminutive sidekick, Short Round, can crawl through tight spaces to reach hidden areas. Others pack a shovel for unearthing objects or a book for translating hieroglyphic reliefs.

Progressing through each level means taking advantage of these special abilities to solve puzzles. At least one other character accompanies Indy on his adventures at any given time, enabling you to toggle between the two (or sometimes three) with the tap of the Triangle button. In fact, a good number of puzzles demand co-operation with your in-game buddy controlled by the computer. Co-op play with a friend via ad-hoc mode would have been brilliant, but sadly it's absent here.

Packed with puzzles and fights and treasure hunting, each level ends up being a drawn out affair. While this affords hours of play, it's also less than ideal on PSP. Levels are entirely too long to complete in a quick ten- to 15-minute jaunt; instead, you'll need to set aside a half-hour at minimum, and a full hour for some of the more involved stages. Sure, this means you get plenty of value out of the game, but it also makes it more of a sit-at-home or stuck-on-a-long-flight sort of experience.

The ark of the covenant isn't all that's lost in Lego Indiana Jones – time disappears as well. Time flies when you're having fun but it's wasted while you're waiting. Alas, too many minutes are lost to extraordinarily lengthy load sequences here. Whatever portability possessed by the game is essentially thrown out the window in lieu of crippling loading times for each level and cinematic.

Starting the game from the PSP's XMB menu takes what seems like an eternity; in fact, it's so drawn out that you would think the handheld has locked up. Add the time lost during loading together with the extended layout of each level and you've got a game hardly suited for portable play.

As long as you have patience for the waiting around and understand that it isn't designed for short gameplay sessions, Lego Indiana Jones offers a lot of entertainment. It's an imaginative take on Indy's theatrical adventures with plenty of challenges and enormous replay value. It's a decent port of the console versions, in other words – just don't call it 'junior'.

Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

X marks the spot for this portable treasure that loses a little lustre with long loading times, but shines with great levels and plenty of replay value
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.