LucasArts tends to focus pretty heavily on cranking out Star Wars titles, so it’s not very often that Indiana Jones gets a new game. You'd hope that means extra effort and development time is put into every Indy release, but that really doesn't seem to be the case here. Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings for the Wii succeeds in offering entertaining control elements to set it apart from past titles in the franchise, however it’s far from being his greatest adventure yet.
The year is 1939, so you don’t have to worry about playing as the modern-day, senior-citizen version of Harrison Ford. The game follows the classic film formula, but this time you get to control the action as Indiana travels the world looking for an artifact before it can fall into the possession of someone who plans to use it in a bad, bad way.
The majority of actions are performed using motion control. Fighting actually feels very similar to the Wii version of The Godfather game. Swing the nunchuck to unleash your left fist, and swing the remote to pummel with your right. Like we’ve seen so many times before with motion control, this sounds like a lot more fun that it ends up being. Too often your swings aren’t recognized properly and you’re left defenseless as a result.
Some motion controls do enhance the experience, however. One of the first things you’ll do is pick up a torch and wave it around, and it feels surprisingly immersive. We’ve all dreamed of having Indy’s skills ever since he made it popular to take your whip outside of the bedroom. Now all you have to do is hold down B and snap away! Depending on the direction you swing, you can grasp enemies by the foot, waist, or even the neck. Then yank back on remote to jerk the guy around all you want, and this time there is no safety word.
A big downside to the game is that fights are very formulaic. Several goons approach you at the same time, and based on their size you’ll immediately know how to handle them. Some can be beaten fisticuffs style, while others can only be hurt if they are countered or hit with an object.
Interactive environments help break up some of the monotony, though. Items that are potential weapons are scattered all over, and certain bookshelves and overhangs can be pulled down onto enemies with the whip. You can also grab onto thugs and smash them into tables, desks, gongs, and just about anything you see. Sometimes a person just doesn’t understand that you mean business until you smash his face into an aquarium.
Even though Indy always has his gun, you can only use it during preset gunfights. This was a strange design choice because it significantly limits your ability to play with your own style. Just like the famous avoided swordfight scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, there are moments where you’ll get sick of the fighting and want to shoot a guy or two. Limiting ammo rations would have been a better way to balance gunplay while still providing players with options.
There are several things to collect and unlock, including the classic point-and-click adventure Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. There are also different costumes available, although the best one by far is the ability to play dressed as Han Solo. A co-op mode is present, but the single player campaign was clearly where developers spent the bulk of their time.
Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings contains all of the necessary ingredients to be a fantastic continuation of Dr. Jones’ adventures. There are moments in which you’ll feel more like Indiana than you ever have before as you crack your whip to his iconic anthem. But in the end you’ll have endured too many repeated moments of frustration to want to play through a second time.