Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
Sphinx, like most action-adventure games, has its share of swordplay, sneakery, and puzzles. But it also features a compelling twist: In addition to the titular hero, you also control an unkillable mummy (who used to be King Tut). The beauty of this? All the traps our undead embalmee encounters serve only to power him up through his puzzle-laden levels. Set him ablaze, and he can burn his way through wooden trapdoors. Squash him pancake thin, and he can slip between metal bars. It's very clever, and you'll wish you got to spend more time with him. That's not to say the action parts aren't enjoyable; they just seem bland when compared with the creative juices flowing through the Mummy's levels. And while the game world is certainly pretty, I wish it had included more bountiful side quests and nonplayer characters to interact with throughout the adventure, like you'd find in Zeldafs Hyrule. Still, the main quest makes amends, and collecting monsters is a fun diversion--it's a solid game.
Unlike my pals on the page, I preferred playing as Cat-Boy. Those parts are simple and elegant: fun but not overly challenging combat and puzzles that take a minimum amount of head scratching. I also enjoyed exploring the vivid world and story--the game really takes advantage of its rich Egyptian setting. This could have been as engrossing as a good Disney movie--if it had any voice acting. Instead, you watch characters' lips move as you click along and read. And would it have killed them to put in more save points?
Here we have a great and clever platformer (starring the mummy) hindered by Sphinx's average action-adventure. Getting the Mummy burnt, shocked, and sliced makes for both fun and funny gameplay. Watching Sphinx do double-jumps and sword strokes, on the other hand, fills me with 'eh.' I also was annoyed with the 'sticky' camera and lack of auto-lock, which makes Sphinx's combat seem a tad mediocre. If only the developer had fleshed out the Mummy's gameplay into its own game. Because ulti mately, this is an 8.0 Mummy game entangled by a 6.0 Sphinx game.
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Initially I hated Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. I found its blend of action, platformer and adventure painfully hard to master and far too often had to replay massive chunks of the game when I died. Then I realized that it wasn't the game that sucked, it was me.
It's been so long since a really challenging game has come out that I forgot what it was like to play one. This isn't some save-when-ever-you want, countless-life, namby-pamby video game. No, to beat Sphinx you have to be smart, cautious and willing to spend some time mastering the mechanics of this well-crafted keeper.
You'll spend your time in the game split between controlling the two titles characters: Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. The game initially shoots back and forth between two apparently separate plots, one for each character, but as the game progresses the plots and characters meet.
The play is typically smooth with a simplistic controller layout that lets you attack with one button, jump with another and do practically everything else with a third. Although Sphinx does have very strong action and platform elements, at its heart it is a classic adventure game. What that means is that you're going to spend a lot of time using your brain instead of your fingers.
Graphics in the game go far to enhance the experience, with a cartoonish look that works well with the fun gameplay of Sphinx. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the sound. For some reason the developers decided to skip voices all together, instead plugging in annoying noises that are supposed to project some sort of emotion.
The only other annoying aspect of the game is the fact that when you are forced to replay a section, and there will be a lot of times that that happens, there is no way to avoid watching all of those lengthy cut-scenes again. They really should have given you a way to skip them, because listening to the monosyllabic grunts of the central character time after time can get to be a wee-bit annoying.
Overall I highly recommend Sphinx and Cursed Mummy. It's well-crafted, challenging in all of the right ways and just a heck of a lot of fun to play with a cool blend of Egyptian mythology and Manga-like fantasy.