Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
For the past couple of years, the term “platformer” has been taboo with publishers. Why’s that? Gamers don’t buy as many of them as they once did, so they’ve been releasing them anyway under the guise of “character action and adventure” games. Whichever way you spin it, you’ve got yourself a platformer with firm adventure elements in Sphinx. As you’d expect, your heroes run around, climb, jump, push boxes, and solve some puzzles as they move from area to area.
As you guessed from the title “Sphinx,” the game takes place in ancient Egypt. Many of the locations such as Abydos and Luxor share their names with real locations in Egypt, as do many of the characters such as Imhotep or Tutankhamun. The characters in the game greatly resemble figures that Egyptians worshipped as gods as seen in ancient writing and drawings from the period: humanoid versions of Jackals, Hawks and so on. They’re all brilliantly detailed and creative in design, but lack one key element… speech. Maybe we’ve just been spoiled recently by games with superb voice acting like Prince of Persia, Knights of the Old Republic and Beyond Good and Evil, but when a game comes along in which you see dialogue in plain old text, it comes off as a bit lame. The background music is an orchestral score and is very well done, occasionally changing to reflect the action on screen. For example, striking an enemy down and hearing a chord hit in the soundtrack.
The environments, as you might expect, all coincide with the overall Egyptian theme. You’re in for a lot of tan and sandy colors as you explore tombs, desert regions, ancient cities, palaces and more. While sticking to the theme, the game’s levels are quite appealing and everything zips along at a very fast and smooth frame-rate. Fans of Metroid, Zelda or Castlevania:SOTN will be familiar with the game progression in Sphinx. Basically, a huge open area leading to smaller areas is open for you to explore, but many can only be reached once you’ve obtained new items and skills, like the double jump, the blow gun, or the ability to capture and unleash monsters.
Gameplay alternates between two characters, Sphinx and the Mummy of King Tutankhamun. As the Sphinx, you’ll have a standard set of moves and items involving a sword, a shield, a blow gun, capturing and unleashing creatures and more. The Mummy’s set of abilities are more unique. Since he’s already dead, many of his special powers depend on that. You’ll need to electrocute him, smash him paper thin, slice him into three Mummy clones and of course set him afire to solve a variety of puzzles.
Speaking of puzzles, with both characters you’re going to probably find yourself stuck quite a few times throughout the game. Harkening back to PC adventure games of old, some of the puzzle solutions in Sphinx aren’t very obvious even when you have all of the needed items to solve it. That said, while some are very traditional like pushing boxes and pulling levers, many of them are pretty creative, especially while torturing the Mummy to solve them. Mute characters and some occasional puzzle frustration aside, Sphinx is worth a look if you’re hungering for a solid console platformer/adventure title.
Looking for a great action platformer? Then look no further than THQ's Sphinx. There are some lame traditional puzzles, but the majority of them are fun and engaging.
Rating: 8 Good
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