Opinions can be very subjective to put it mildly. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Video games, like other forms of media, can have very mixed opinions about their merits or lack thereof. So, when approaching a game, I try my damnedest to keep an open mind. I mean, critics had been very kind to Atari's take on the first Indiana Jones movie. Hell, it's even designed by Howard Scott Warshaw, the guy that created Yars' Revenge, one of the best games on the 2600. It must be good, right?
I don't know what game the critics were playing at that time, but it can't have been the same Raiders of the Lost Ark that I played. This one is one of the most annoying and aggravating games I ever suffered through. Like in the movie, your goal as cinema's least credible archaeologist is to find the Well of the Souls and dig up the Ark of the Covenant. The parts about rolling boulders and surviving the opening of the Ark aren't in the game, though the sheer awfulness of it made me want to keep my eyes shut.
The game plays like a mix between Adventure and the Swordquest games. You have several inventory items to collect, and all are required to find your way to the Ark. The game uses both joysticks; one is for controlling Indy, and the other is for managing the inventory. Managing the inventory is a royal pain since few clues are given how to use each item, and it's possible to lose vital items, making the game impossible to finish.
Of course, figuring out how to use the items is the least of the game's problems. Figuring out where to go and what to do is a lot worse. The only clues you get are in the instruction manual unless you dig up a walkthrough online. Nothing in the game gives ANY indication. There is a wall at the beginning that needs to be blown open with a grenade. Nothing in the game or the instructions suggests anything to that effect. The only reason I knew about it was from watching the Angry Video Game Nerd!
You would be lucky if you got any chance to figure anything out since snakes and that Nazi schmuck with the glasses Toht can wipe out your three lives in moments. Whose bright idea was it to have lives in a puzzle-based adventure game? At least the Swordquest games left that out!
The game isn't even that nice to look at or listen to. Plenty of color is used, but most of the time I couldn't tell what I was looking at. The snakes that can kill you in one hit are the same color as much of the scenery, and Toht can pass through solid objects to get to you. Even the beeping rendering of the Indiana Jones theme song sucks.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is all kinds of awful. I truly cannot see why sites like allgame.com gave it a 3.5 out of 5. The game I played was so irritating and frustrating that just thinking about it makes me wish it melted my face off.