The talk surrounding Indiana Jones And The Staff Of Kings was mainly of how much more accessible this adventure would be to a wide range of gamers. Really? Take a snapshot of the second level for instance and you'd swear this was designed for hardened gamers with gold-plated synapses and reflexes like Keanu Reeves' in The Matrix. It's one of the hardest levels we can remember playing in a Wii game, and definitely the hardest second level we've ever played.
You're in a biplane trying to outrun a gaggle of Nazi planes through a narrow canyon. It's more a nod to another famous LucasArts property (stars, wars, you know it) and the climax of a certain fourth episode than an Indy staple, and it's absolutely infuriating. You hold the Wii Remote upright much like a plane's control stick, but it offers you next to no control over your craft, and there's a treacherous series of overhanging ledges to duck and weave between, not to mention enemies taking chunks out of you. The slightest hit destabilises you, knocking out your aiming and making it damn nigh impossible to get though the slim openings in the canyon.
As an introduction to a game, it's hard to fathom. Why close off your game to those with less patience for such fiddly, frustrating gameplay? It's one of a few examples of iffy design which may well get in the way of many people enjoying Staff Of Kings.
In many ways there's a certain perverse enjoyment to be had from banging your head against a brick wall until one or both busts, but then even masochists may be put off by having to sit through the same cut-scenes at the start of a section because of the lack of a skip option. Fail the tutorials and you have to listen to a Harrison Ford imitator (albeit a very convincing one) again, while dying later on returns you to the last checkpoint and the same, tedious animation of Indy picking up his fedora.
Elsewhere though, there's much to enjoy about Staff Of Kings, thankfully. It's an Indy game after all. You'll really want to like it, and on many counts you will. Most important is that crucial wide-eyed Saturday matinee magic. This feels like Indy, possibly even more so than that creaky skull nonsense at the cinema last year.
It's all panoramic sweeps of croc-infested rivers and archaeological digs, while the man himself has that familiar knock-about charm. He scrambles for cover, rolls with the punches and generally takes no nonsense. At one point he hesitates before setting foot on a rickety rope bridge, as if that notorious incident from the end of Temple Of Doom is playing on his mind. The funny side of a college professor being way out of his depth at times is most certainly present and correct.
The controls just about work. Holding B and flicking the Wii Remote forwards or back cracks Indy's whip. It's used mainly to swing over gaps, but it can also be used in close-quarter dust-ups to whip someone off their feet, draw them towards you or disarm them.
A jab forwards with either the Nunchuk or Remote is a quick, weak punch; a longer sweep right to left or vice versa is a slower, more powerful hook; while a sharp upward motion is a heavy uppercut. You can use Z to grapple an enemy and smack him about the face. It's enjoyable enough but we'd rather have button options, and a lock-on facility would've been handy. At times you'll be fighting half a dozen enemies at once so it can be confusing, made worse by the fact that the motion controls aren't quite as responsive as we'd like.
There's no quick fix with the revolver either. The gun is strictly limited to prescribed sections which have you taking cover and picking off your enemies from a fixed point. That's the story of the game really. A bit of scrapping, a bit of shooting, a bit of exploring, though never at the same time. It's all rather ragged and unpolished. You'll need a lot of patience to get to the good bits.