Early designs for the game’s main cast.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis isn’t just one of the greatest video games ever made, it’s also for many fans a baked-in part of the Indy franchise, a better fourth movie than the actual fourth movie. So it’s both fascinating and sad to read about the game’s sequel, which was never released.

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Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix is a game that was in development at Lucasarts during 1993-94. Planned as a direct sequel to Atlantis, it was set in 1947, and involved Indy and a Soviet agent in a quest to stop some Nazis (hiding out in South America) from getting hold of the Philosopher’s Stone (the mythological one, not the Harry Potter one) and resurrecting Hitler.

An animation test for the moment the player kills Adolf Hitler. Again.

While the setting sounds cool, the game was beset by all kinds of trouble, from leadership changes to outsourcing disasters to technical problems with a change in art style. Most damaging, though, was having a story so reliant on Nazi imagery and themes, which would have resulted in the game being banned in Germany, a key market for adventure games.

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All this and more is covered in this wonderful retrospective on the game, put together by The International House of Mojo (a Lucasarts fan site), which features interviews with a number of developers who worked on the game. There are even screenshots and animation tests, not to mention a link to the game’s 60-page design document. If you’re a fan of classic Lucasarts adventure games you should definitely check it out.

Some early pieces of background art for Iron Phoenix.