Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy Xbox Official Website
Developed by Eurocom Entertainment
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99
If you asked people to pick a popular civilisation in history it's a fair bet that most would pick the Egyptians. Looking at the rich history and especially the mythology of the Egyptians anyone can see that there is plenty of material with which to create a game, or even a series of games come to that. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is just such a game which combines elements from Egypt's history and mythology into a unique story and the end result is a very interesting and enjoyable blend.
The game begins with you playing as a demigod called Sphinx and your first task is to accompany your rival, Horus, in an attempt to acquire the Blade of Osiris for Imhotep. It all goes wrong though as Horus gets zapped before the blade can be retrieved. Sphinx does manage to obtain the Blade of Osiris but before he gets back to Imhotep he also is zapped and ends up in a mysterious location. Following this episode the action switches to Prince Tutankhamen who has just awoken on his birthday. Initially everything looks OK for Tut and his first task is to collect some old amulets for his aunty. Whilst doing this task young Tut is informed that his bride-to-be, Nefertiti wants to see him. Nefertiti warns Tut that something is wrong and that he is going to have to watch his back. On entering the treasury Tut uncovers the evil doings of his brother Akenhaten and is captured and, painfully for Nefertiti, turned into a mummy.
Throughout the course of the game you will switch between control of Sphinx and Tut (who later becomes the mummy). The two characters have slightly different abilities but the differences aren't enough to make you feel like it's two different games which is, of course, a good thing. What I really like about Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is that it has a very balanced mix of exploring, platforming elements and puzzles. You really have to think with some of the puzzles too. A lot of people complained that The Wind Waker was just too easy but I don't think this can said about Sphinx. If I had to pick a weak part of the game it would have to be the combat. Don't get me wrong it's not that the combat is poor or anything it's just that with the absence of an enemy lock-on feature it makes it more awkward than it needs to be. Still with the amount of mini-games, weapons and abilities that can be acquired (not forgetting the humorous way you get to use the mummy to solve puzzles) as you progress through the game it's easy to forgive Eurocom for missing out the enemy lock-on feature as they've got so many aspects of the game spot on.
If you've read other reviews of Sphinx you'll have probably read the comment (numerous times) of how the game has been likened to The Legend of Zelda series. This is actually a good description and by no means a bad thing. There certainly are similarities though. The hearts, which denote the character's health in the Zelda games, have been replaced by ankhs. You'll also notice that the context sensitive control system is also 'Zelda style'. The primary buttons are shown on the top right of the screen (A,B,X,Y) along with the left and right triggers. The A button is used to jump and the B button (for Sphinx) is assigned to performing attacks. The X button, when appropriate, is for using objects or devices. The right and left triggers can be assigned to an item of your choice such as a shield for instance. The games controls feel very good and responsive and the various platforming parts of the game are straightforward as a result of this.
Graphically the game has a charm all of it's own. The various locations in the game all look good and you'll meet a variety of mythological Egyptian creatures such as people with bird or crocodile heads. All the characters in the game look good but the one that stands out has to be the mummy who not only looks great but animates superbly. The games camera generally behaves itself but you can manipulate it, most of the time, with the right analogue stick should the camera ever go astray. Multi-platform games are often optimised for the PlayStation 2 and can look a little ropey when they appear on the Xbox. Thankfully this isn't the case with Sphinx though and it feels and looks like the game has been made for the Xbox and the rock solid frame rate is further evidence that care and attention has been taken.
Deaf gamers will be pleased to learn that Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is absolutely fine for them. All conversations within the game are delivered via text only and the text remains onscreen until you press the A button for it to progress. The text is clear and easy to read, even on a small television. You can access your objectives at any time by pressing the back button so you'll never forget what your next task is (particularly useful if you have a long gap between gaming sessions).
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is one of those rare quality titles that you'll be able to enjoy whether you own a Xbox, GameCube or PlayStation 2. The game itself is an action adventure game with a fair amount of platform game elements thrown in for good measure. It requires a lot of thought if you're going to progress through the game. I personally like the way the Sphinx and mummy levels feel different. It's a shame that the game doesn't have an enemy lock-on feature but it's certainly not a disaster and with the numerous elements of the game that feel just right it's a great effort from Eurocom. Let's hope this is just the first game in a long running series because it definitely has the potential to be one.
Game Rating: 8.7/10
A very enjoyable game that deserves a lot of attention. Let's hope this is the first in a long running series of Sphinx games.
No problems for deaf gamers.