Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 14.04.2019

Review for Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy on Nintendo Switch

The early '00s era brought with it an amazing amount of action-platformers of very high quality. With series like Ratchet, and Clank, Jak and Daxter, putting out instalment, after instalment; new properties like Billy Hatcher; and breakout hits in a franchise like Mario Sunshine. With so many titles, many went unnoticed. Like the aforementioned Billy Hatcher, and just like this title, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. Produced by Eurocom, a now deceased British studio, once famous for their ports to new platforms, they also produced a few of original titles, none of particular note, except for Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. An action-platformer from 15 years ago, now receiving new life on Nintendo Switch.

You play as Sphinx - no, not the big, human-headed Lion, but an ancient warrior in mythical ancient Egypt. Along with his friend and fellow acolyte Horus, Sphinx is set out on a quest from his monkey-headed, mystical master Imhotep. That quest is to travel to the evil lands of Uruk and retrieve the legendary Blade of Osiris. This is just the tutorial, though, getting Sphinx his first of many pieces of equipment, and introducing the real story of a King Tutankhamun's transformation into the titular cursed mummy and setting Sphinx on a new quest.

King Tutankhamun isn't quite a king yet, however, as he's just little prince Tut, and his big brother isn't quite what he seems. That brother should be Akhenaten and while he looks the part, it's just a glamor - behind the mask, is the God Set. Those without much knowledge of Egyptian theology, Set is the God of war, the God of chaos, the God of disasters and storms. It'll take both Sphinx and the Mummy formally known as Tutankhamun to stop set. To find the stolen magical crowns of the Gods from across Egypt, encountering famous names like Bas-Tet, Anubis, and more along the way.

Screenshot for Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy on Nintendo Switch

From the first steps, Sphinx feels a little rough around the edges, with all of the issues being endemic of games of its ilk, and of the time. The camera is constantly obstructive, whether during the jumping sections, and especially in the combat ones. It isn't particularly surprising for a remaster of this nature from its era. Many such action-platformers suffered from the same issues. The biggest issue is there's no way to lock the camera, whether in a set direction, or onto enemies. It is a royal pain. It's something immediately worth bearing in mind. Outside of these problematic fundamentals, the rest is very enjoyable.

The gameplay takes a lot from the Zelda formula. Sphinx starts out with no weapons or abilities, able to pick up huge rocks and awkwardly lob them forward, to jump and grip onto ledges, and nothing else. The Blade of Osiris becomes the first of many pieces of equipment that help him overcome previous obstacles. It's certainly not the first to borrow the formula and since this was published by THQ (later of Darksiders fame) it obviously will not be the last. Sphinx gains the ability to double jump, various types of swimming, to sprint and to use Eagles to traverse. Not to mention various equipment like a blow-dart for ranged attacks, and even a Pokeball-style beetle which makes it possible to capture enemy mobs and use them later on; capturing Fire Armadillos to burn wooden cages and fences, capturing exploding frogs to blow up towers and obstructions.

Screenshot for Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy on Nintendo Switch

Sphinx isn't the only playable character either, as alluded to in the title. The other being little Prince Tut himself, now in his zombified, mummy form. The Mummy sequences are completely different from Sphinx. Sphinx is classic action-platformer through and through, while Tut's sequences are all based around puzzles. After all, he doesn't have a legendary blade to fight back against the denizens of ancient Egypt, though through smart use of external hazards, he is able to deal with enemies. Tut is immortal in this form, meaning any deaths result in a speedy resurrection, and by turning this to his advantage, Tut can take out enemies and solve puzzles.

By standing beneath spouting flames he can light himself on fire, by standing beside pulsating Tesla Coils he can imbue himself with electricity. This can then be passed to any nearby enemies or scenery elements. It's used to good effect in puzzles. Having to speedily navigate jumping puzzles before the flames are extinguished. These puzzles are all smartly designed, and later new abilities for Tut also introduce even more elements to the puzzles. The ability to turn invisible when not moving is used to try and avoid the eyeball on a stick sentries that little the pyramid; requiring speedy reflexes to run between lines-of-sight, then freezing to turn invisible before they turn back.

Screenshot for Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy on Nintendo Switch

The puzzles offer up decent challenges, requiring the player to actually think without just giving them the answer after they fail once or twice. A core gameplay element that has become a rarity in today's games. Another aspect rarely seen is the save system. No autosaving every twenty seconds or so here. There are ye old save points, and they are sometimes a decent distance apart, giving the incentive to play a little better, something that can be rather difficult when it comes to the combat issues. Moreover, being an HD remaster from two generations back, there are bound to be issues.

Sphinx himself is a gangly, odd-looking little weirdo. His gait is far too long, when climbing he throws his entire body out like a chimp being electrocuted. The comical Tut is much better, his gimpy walk and befuddled expressions well designed and comical. The world the characters inhabit does not look the same quality, unsurprisingly, it's easy enough to put some filters over the environment but ultimately the underlying design cannot be altered, resulting in a lot of lifeless, empty areas. When playing in portable mode, it looks great, easily like an indie game from this generation - it's only when on the big screen that the flaws really begin to show. Big screen is best though, when it comes to the camera issues and controls, and a pro controller along with a bigger field of view are practically a requirement.

Screenshot for Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

While it may not be of the same quality as the greats of its era, this is a solid and enjoyable title. The puzzle sections are by far the highlight, but the exploration and Zelda-style progression are all good enough to keep the players coming back. Many, many players who have fond memories of the generation missed out on this one, and its resurrection here gives them a chance to experience something new yet nostalgic. Instead of a new game trying to capture the feel of an era, this is a lost relic, a chance to experience a "new" action-platformer from the past.

Developer

Eurocom

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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