Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Total satisfaction. I've just returned from the morning showing of the new Indiana Jones film, and I'm completely thrilled with it. It delivered everything I wanted and didn't disappoint me in any way.

To me a new Indiana Jones film is like a new Star Wars film. That's the level of anticipation I had for it going in. I absolutely adore the first three films, the adventure games, and even the novels that were put out in the mid-90s. Indiana Jones instilled in me a curiosity and passion for ancient civilizations and cultures (despite giving a fantasy spin on such things) which I still have to this day. The notion of ancient ruins and mythology, uncharted areas and lost treasures. It's a large part of the reason I took to the newer Tomb Raider games so well - indeed, watching parts of Crystal Skull I was tingling with anticipation for the Tomb Raider Underworld game, which shares a similar setting and style.

Something I'd consciously done with this film was to avoid absolutely anything to do with the story. I'd seen a couple of trailers - the early teaser one and one before Iron Man a couple of weeks ago, but apart form that I've read and discussed nothing. I wanted to go into a long-awaited film completely fresh, and it really made a difference I think. I knew the majority of the cast and a few of their roles, and... that's it.

It really is a love letter to Indy fans and a big indulgence on the team making the film. There are numerous references to previous films visually, in the script and in the score. George Lucas got a nod to his beloved hot rod racing. Ford is charismatic and fun again, everyone else shines - LeBeouf once again showing me he's got a great presence, and Blanchett is, as ever, a bona-fide goddess. Everyone's clearly having a ton of fun, the way it was with Raiders.

The two hours zip by, yet the story is satisfactorily wrapped up. As always with Indy films there's really no flab. Everything propels the plot to the next piece of action, and the slower moments are filled with atmosphere and necessary details. If I have one single criticism it's that a chase scene goes on a little long, but that's pure nitpicking and moments after it ended I was sitting in rapt attention again.

Now I'm in two minds about Indy. Having seen this there's part of me that wishes we'd had one every five years, or even another one between Last Crusade and Crystal Skull. Clearly there's so much that could have been done with this character in a manner reflecting the serial nature of his inspiration. On the other hand, it feels like the time was right to tell a new story - one very suited to its period - and the wait was worth it.

DS Homebrew

I've just acquired an R4 card for the Nintendo DS. The notorious device (now one of many) that lets you run unlicensed software on the machine - including pirated software, naturally. Funnily enough the piracy side of it holds no interest for me; the reason I got it was for POWDER, Nethack DS, and Lone Wolf DS.

It's fair to say I'm over the moon with it. I've taken to Nethack much more than I ever managed to on the PC (something about the interface on PC always felt clunky and opaque to me), POWDER is just plain lovely. It's as harsh as any Roguelike but is presented in a wonderfully cheery way, with bold, colourful graphics. Lone Wolf is a real treat, and I very much hope the developer continues and translates more of the saga in this form.

There are quite a few homebrew projects bubbling away at various levels of completion. Some very interesting indeed - most especially the Dungeon Master port which is currently in very early alpha build. To be honest though, I feel I've more than justified my investment by having a couple of great Roguelikes on there - games that will hold my attention far longer than any official DS title could ever hope to.