Put your hands up if you remember a Playstation 2 game entitled Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. No me neither, despite owning quite an extensive library on Sony’s machine and played, what I thought, was the majority of games that were released on the system. However, kudos to you if you do. It was obviously a game that went under my radar, although with a HD makeover, its re-release on the Nintendo Switch has most certainly registered a blip on my sweeping rotation of the software landscape.
Developed by Eurocom and published through THQ Nordic, this action-adventure contains a distinctly Egyptian flavour, as you play as Sphinx, a cat-like demigod, who is tasked with investigating an impending darkness that has been set about by the evil god, Set. After learning of secret conspiracies, as unveiled by the Prince Tutankhamen, and a series of teleportations into a variety of dream-like realms, you embark on a 3D platforming, melee combatted and adventuring journey that sends you on a pyramid of discovery. The game also contains some minor RPG-elements too, with the ability to garner a variety of items and tools to enhance your character and the range of moves available to them.
The star of the show here, comes in the likeable and laughable characters, as well as an intriguing story that twists and turns at any available point. From the embarkations of your quest, to the Sword of Osiris and the fateful destinies of key players; there’s simply a depth of variety here to keep you playing. One minute your watching the story unfold, the next you’re solving puzzles, traversing platforms and fighting mythological creatures. There’s also a nice level of accessibility here too, making it a good starter point for younger or newer players in the realms of action-adventuring; although one or two platform sections and puzzles may require a more experienced level of input.
Coming from a period of gaming that revelled in the delights of titles such as Jax & Dexter and Ratchet & Clank, this re-modelled renaissance has the same feel as the classics of old. Despite its age, some of its elements have withstood the test of time quite well; although there are other factors that haven’t quite fared so well. In terms of gameplay and controls, Sphinx feels exactly as it should do, at least as far as the action-adventures of the early 2000s go. In terms of graphical presentation though, despite boasting a HD makeover, do feel a bit past it now; especially when we’ve been treated to the detail and variation of more modern games over the last few years.
I’m not saying it’s particularly bad though, the levels and landscapes are fun and varied, but they do feel a bit sparse and basic in their execution at times. Saying that though, the most important element of any game has to be the gameplay and in this element, this is a game that excels in what it does. There’s a nice amount of variety within the game that helps keep things fresh and different, rather than becoming dull and stale. Finding trinkets that enhance your jump capabilities, solving a variety of puzzles and seeing the game through a series of perspectives help push everything along at a nice pace that helps keep you playing through to the game’s end.
The varying characters that you control offer a difference in how you approach their respective levels. Sphinx is more combat orientated, as well as excelling at exploration and platforming, whilst Tutankhamen is more specialised in the arts of stealth and puzzle-solving, as well as having the ability to focus on special powers that can reveal secret locations and previously unpassable segments. For the most part, the platforming and puzzling sections aren’t too difficult to work out and with a bit of experimentation and thought, their solutions are never too far away. Saying that though, a distinctly iffy camera mechanic can make life a little difficult, especially if attempting to traverse a particularly difficult platforming section or trying to pan around to find the solution to a particular puzzle. It’s not game-breaking in any way and is merely an element of the game that plagued other titles of its generation.
For me though, it’s biggest frustration was in the sparsity of its save points though. It’s all too easy to lose the progress of the last twenty or thirty minutes of gameplay to a stupid mistake of a mis-timed jump or fatal blow of an enemy. Again, it’s simply part of the mechanics that the games of old contained and are simply elements that have carried over within this rehash. Like I said before though, these aren’t really game-breaking inclusions, as they’re not technical issues. Personally, I put it down to us gamers being spoilt too much in recent years and revisiting the mechanics of old can be a shock to the system at times. If anything though, they simply add to the challenge and in some ways, can add to the tension and excitement of the title.
Overall though, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy actually holds its age quite well and presents a game that sits nicely upon the Nintendo Switch. Its biggest draw, at least for me, is the Egyptian setting that the game is based in, with some nice locales to visit and amusing characters that easily recognisable and relatable; at least they are if your conversed in the mythology of Ancient Egypt. Despite showing its age in some elements, the graphical presentation of the game is vibrant and colourful, with a sharpness to its HD overhaul. The game’s main elements of exploration, combat, puzzle solving and platforming and all nicely executed; although the camera angles can frustrate a little at times. However, when you put everything together, you end up with a fun and at times, exciting jaunt through Egyptian mythology that contains a good deal of humour and charm and offers a nice insight into one of the games that slipped under the radars of many a gamer on its initial release.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy Review
User Review( votes)
An Egyptian tale that’s been re-wrapped in a High Definition bandage.