Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew



It's been some time since we've had an Indiana Jones title on a Nintendo handheld. Yes, there was the recent Lego outing but the last time we saw the movie version of 'the man with the hat' was way back in 2001 in The Infernal Machine and that was on the Gameboy Color. Like Star Was though, the popularity of this Lucas/Spielberg creation has never really faded and while last years movie was a little disjointed, Staff of Kings is an entirely new story and before you ask, yes, the Nazis are back and Indy isn't too happy about it...


Given that the Staff of Kings features a new storyline we'll try not to spoil it too much for you but let's just say that your adventure is going to take you to a number of locations around the globe from San Francisco to Paris and beyond. Like the movies this is all about exploration and puzzle solving so it's essential to scan each room for clues. The top screen acts as a kind of journal detailing your next objective so it's difficult to just wonder around aimlessly. The puzzles themselves are pretty standard fare and in the time we spent with the game there was nothing we saw to cause even new gamers many problems. One thing we would say is that it looks a bit linear as the cut-screens take you from one location to another with no opportunity to deviate from your path. This was to be expected really though and you'll be having so much fun 'tomb raiding' you may not even notice.

In addition to puzzle solving and exploration, you'll .have to deal with an endless steam of henchmen who are not only tough but a little more intelligent than your average AI enemy. This is because they not only block your punches but also because they also inflict damage on you meaning you'll start some sections right from the beginning on more than one occasion. This could all become tiresome very quickly indeed but combat allows you to build up a power meter and touching this unleashes one of Indy's many 'special moves' allowing you to dispose of anyone in seconds. Other than hand to hand combat, there are different ways of dealing with enemies and while your trusty Whip is effective for disarming them, they will eventually push though and knock you over. Long range foes are much better dealt with a single shot from your pistol although your ammo is limited and extra bullets are hard to find.


You can move Indy around with the d-pad and occasionally it's more effective to do this but the touch-screen interface has been so well developed it's easier sticking with that method for the majority of the game. 


Visually the Staff of Kings is really quite something special. Not only are the various locations well designed they're also dripping with atmosphere (thanks to the rich textures and lighting effects). There are some impressive cut-screens too. Further on in the game the attention to detail is even more impressive with, for instance, the Zeppelin level featuring a rolling landscape, far below, with cloud effects just in case you forgot just how high up you are. The animation's pretty good too with Indy in particular demonstrating a huge range of moves both in action and combat.


The audio is outstanding. Not only are you treated to the wonderful original score in all its glory, but you'll also have seamless incidental music accompanying you as you wander around the levels. In addition there are some very well crafted sound effects which, for a change, do seem to have been actually recorded for the game.

Dual screen

You can actually control the whole game with the stylus with more than enough hints and tips available to make it a smooth and pleasant experience.  This includes movement and combat, not to mention using Indy's weapons of choice: a gun and his trusty whip.  The other interesting use of the touch-screen is when you discover one of the many Ciphers that need unlocking. This is where the whole game switches into puzzle mode, which involves you guiding a water droplet trough a maze littered with traps and hazards. You are probably wondering what is problematic about a drop of water and simple things like fire and sand have to be blown away, using the DS' microphone. To make things a little more complicated, you can also split your blob so it can enter smaller areas and activate two pressure pads at the same time. This is a really enjoyable part of the whole game and a nice distraction from the platforming/action sections. On the plus side if you enjoy this type of thing more than the main game there is a Cipher Mode available from the main menu which features a dozen or so puzzles and a Multiplayer Mode.

Final comments

Staff of Kings was certainly worth the wait and if you found last year's Tomb Raider title a little disappointing then this will almost certainly make up for it. There's a nice balance between the puzzle solving and combat and the production values are suitably high. The only real downsides are the occasional clunky camera angles and the fact that the whole experience is a little too linear. You'll probably also find the game a little too short although this may have something to do with the fact that you can't put it down but even when you have finished there's still all those extra Ciphers to sort out.

Pro: Great Visuals and an Incredible Soundtrack, Cipher Puzzles are Very Entertaining.
Con: Some Awkward Camera Angles, A Little too Linear.
Final score: 8.5


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Boxart of Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (Nintendo DS)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Action
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Publisher: Lucasarts