The other day I was having a rather fruitless rummage sale outing when I stumbled upon a copy of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom board game by LJN. I opened it up and saw that there were a bunch of pieces included and the board was in good shape, so I asked for the price. The lady behind the card table told me $1.50, since I figured for that price I could make due even if it didn’t have all the pieces I quickly forked over my sweaty nerd money. When I got home and investigated I was pleasantly surprised, all pieces accounted for! Its amazing that this day and age where eBay is so readily available that I got such a deal on a game that I’ve seen sell online for 25 bucks.
I only let a few days slip by before play testing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom the board game. My fellow playtester was my girlfriend Aria who enjoys herself some boardgames and Indiana Jones. Hey, it helps to date a fellow nerd!
First up, I want to note that the box art is really cool. Its all drawn artwork that relies heavily upon movie stills, but it still works and has a great vintage feel. While the interior art that comes from the film is great, the original art is mostly just serviceable.
The goal of the game is fairly simple, start at Club Obi Wan (seen in the film) and travel to the Temple of Doom and then escape. Fuck those poor people and their Sankara Stones! Each player (up to four total) has their own tokens for Indiana Jones, Willie Scott, and Short Round. What’s great about this set up is that each player feels like they’re the heroes in the movie even though everyone has a duplicate team.
Movement is determined by a spinner. I hate spinners, but I can live with this one. The spinner also doubles as a way to tell if bad or good stuff happens to you when you land on an appropriate space. Basically the good stuff is that you get to move a turn for another of your heroes and bad stuff consists of missing a turn. And boy, the movement is what matters in this game. You want your heroes moving as quickly as possible, because this game is rather fast paced. Before you know it the opposing players are in the mine carts and ready to go.
What’s really cool is at the start of the game each player gets their own mini board that connects to the main game board. Here you’re fighting the board and the spinner, but once you get into the Temple of Doom the other players can actually hinder you by moving you back a few spaces.
Oh and your heroes are represented by some cheap tokens. They do the trick, but aren’t that great. Once they get into the mine carts though, you can see why they went with thin cardboard cut outs.
Inside the Temple of Doom there’s a cardboard cut out of the evil god which I’m too lazy to Google right now. What’s funny is that you’re basically trying to make it to the exit. You don’t have to do anything with the statue. You’d think you’d have to grab the Sankara stones before leaving, but nope! I wonder if something was in the original plans to grab them and they nixed them later in development. Regardless, the statue is nice set dressing for the board.
It takes a combination of heroes to get into the Temple of Doom and you can’t move with the mine carts until you have all three heroes there, so you can’t just leave any of the heroes behind no matter how annoying Willie is. Sorry, Doctor.
Having the tokens “sit” in the cart is a really nice touch and helps to capture some of the spirit of the film.
The way that this game captures the feel of the movie is perfect. It somehow manages to fit most of the major elements in and make it feel fast paced. The mine cart part is interesting, because there are short cuts that require some strategy. You can take the short cut and risk missing turns or go the safer path. What will it be Dr. Jones!?
After the mine cart ride you have to make it to the famous bridge. Again, you don’t have to cut it down to kill Mola Ram, you just cross. Its funny to think in this version of the game Indiana Jones doesn’t free the slaves or take the stones from Mola Ram, he just escapes to fight another day.
The rope bridge part is a bit trickier, because you can’t have one of your heroes go past another one of your own team. Furthermore, if another players hero lands in the same spot as one of yours, yours gets moved backwards. There was plenty of swapping places at this point.
Overall this was a simple, yet fun game. It took about 40 minutes to play and that counts the set up, learning the rules, and putting it back in the box. I don’t know if all games are like this, but in this session me and the girlfriend were pretty neck and neck and that made it all the more exciting. It basically came down to a few spins before a winner was declared… and if you must know, she won.
If you happen to find this game at a rummage sale or you’re a big Indiana Jones fan and don’t mind buying it on eBay, the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom board game is totally worth it.