Picks and Pans Main: Etc.

updated 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

The following computer games based on 1989 movies were all reviewed in their IBM format.

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE

Engaging, fast and funny, with plenty of variety and few dead spots, this is—Indy should pardon the expression—the Holy Grail of computer games.

It mixes interactive fiction techniques with arcade-action subplots. One minute the Jones character is in his office choosing among four possible responses to a rowdy group of students wanting his signature on their registration cards; the next minute he's in the gym sparring with the college boxing coach.

The game follows the script of the film with remarkable fidelity, and it contains opportunities for plenty of little triumphs and discoveries as a player tries to accumulate "Indy Quotient" points by uncovering clues and deciphering codes. The graphics are varied and colorful, and a I generous assortment of appropriate little jokes is built into the plot. Those who take time to peruse the bulletin board that's outside Indy's office, for instance, will see one posted notice that says, FOR SALE: 6,000 RATS, 500 SNAKES. CALL S. SPIELBERG.

It's possible to finish the game without ever resorting to violence by tricking the Nazis instead of outfighting them (if you find yourself in a laundry closet in the bad guys' castle, put on the servant's uniform and you'll be able to waltz away). But the action sequences are fun too; it's easy to watch both Indy's and his opponent's strength ratings wax and wane in clear onscreen gauges.

The game uses six floppy disks, so a hard disk can save a lot of switching; there is, needless to say, a "save" feature, since this is a game to play over days, not minutes. And returning to the game is like picking up a long, engrossing book: You want to find out what happens, but you really don't want it to end. (Lucas film, $49.95)

LICENCE TO KILL

If Ian Fleming had made life as hard for James Bond as this game does, old 007 probably would have long since bitten the dust, or at least gone the way of Matt Helm and Napoleon Solo.

Basically a straightforward, arcade-style shoot-'em-up, it offers six sequences in which Bond, seen in overhead views (the graphics are colorful but not much on personalizing the characters), takes on Sanchez, his drug-running nemesis in the film of this title.

Bond makes use of such vehicles as a helicopter and water skis, and while you don't have to worry about remembering the names of all your women friends or coming up with snappy one-liners, you'll have a rough time keeping evil from triumphing over good.

The game also, annoyingly, doesn't store its rankings from session to session—its "top scores" board thus seems pretty pointless. So if you get hot and rip off 80,000 or 90,000 points in one game, enjoy your triumph while you can; once you have logged yourself off for the day, your achievements will be lost to posterity. Anyway, most people are going to come away from this game feeling a lot more like George Lazenby than Sean Connery. (Broderbund, $29.95)

GHOSTBUSTER II

While this is mostly a case of slime or be slimed, it's helpful to have a sense of humor as well as good reflexes.

There's plenty of ghost zapping, buddy rescuing and fireball feeling to satisfy the activity-crazed player. But the game's more substantial charm lies in what happens between skirmishes. The introduction sets the tone: "Five years ago, the Ghostbusters roasted a 30-story marsh-mallow and in the process destroyed most of downtown Manhattan. Surprisingly, people noticed."

That beginning text also notes how, in the sequel, the Ghostbusters' debts have piled up past the critical mass: "What spooks and ghouls couldn't accomplish, several persistent collection agencies did."

The Busters' assistant, Janine (the Annie Potts character), pipes up occasionally—"We got one!"—by way of showing off the game's sophisticated sound programming. The equally impressive visuals include more than reasonable facsimiles of the film's stars. (Bill Murray appears, for instance, every time a floppy disk change is called for, which is pretty often if you're playing without benefit of a hard disk.)

The goal of the game is to find out what music is most likely to soothe the evil undercurrents of New York and prevent a triumph by the minions of Vigo. (He's the Carpathian meanie who is devoted to busting out of the 16th-century portrait he's trapped in.) This leads to a surprise appearance by a special ghost star whose emergence from the netherworld will not surprise his fans, though he would probably be more motivated to save Memphis or Las Vegas than Manhattan. (Activision, $44.95)

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