Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
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The Hobbit
Hunter: The Reckoning
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
Publisher: THQ
Year released: 2003




I played it on the GameCube, but it’s also available on PS2 and XBOX.

Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a very well designed and beautifully animated action adventure that combines many different gameplay mechanics into a solid, consistently entertaining game.

What to expect:

bulletThrough the course of the game, you play two different characters: the daring and powerful Sphinx, and the timid yet immortal mummy. Even though your characters start out in different locations and have different goals, their stories eventually intertwine, and each character’s progress ultimately becomes dependent upon the other’s.
bulletPlaying Sphinx involves a lot of jumping, swimming, long-distance running, and combat. Sphinx does have puzzles to solve, but they’re generally not as complex as those the mummy faces.
bulletThe mummy’s parts of the game involve more stealth and ingenuity than Sphinx’s. Also, the mummy is immortal so he can do a number of things that Sphinx cannot. Many of the mummy’s puzzles are timed. The mummy has no weapons and faces no enemies.
bulletThe one aspect of gameplay common to both characters is platform jumping. And there’s lots of it.
bulletThe game mechanics are a bit different from some other action adventures with platforming elements. For example, both Sphinx and the mummy can jump after walking off a high cliff or ledge- something that usually means instant death in other games (like The Hobbit). In fact, the ability to jump from mid-air is required in order to perform some of the longer jumps (for both characters), beginning about halfway through the game.

What’s good:

bulletFantastic character animation, not only in cutscenes but during gameplay as well. Characters look done by professional animators rather than computer programmers.
bulletExtremely well-designed levels. Even smallish levels are designed in a way that conveys the epic feel of the game- chambers have bottomless pits and towering ceilings. Also, you almost never run into “invisible barriers” that prevent you from exploring further.
bulletVaried gameplay. The kind of tasks and skills involved in playing Sphinx vs. the mummy are so different that it’s almost like you’re getting two games in one. Additionally, there are a number of optional minigames where you can gain rewards for doing very well and develop skills you’ll need in order to finish the game.
bulletGood, complex puzzles that require a lot more planning than in the typical action adventure.
bulletThere’s a lot of interaction with the environment, and even using aggressive creatures to help you in your quest.
bulletEach creature and boss has its own fighting techniques and weaknesses, a fact that keeps combat pretty challenging and entertaining. Once you figure out a creature’s pattern you can dispatch it rather easily… as long as there’s only one of ‘em!
bulletYou’re presented with a somewhat open-ended gameworld and a number of fast-travel options to get from place to place. The game and levels are designed in such a way that the game progresses as a direct result of your characters developing new skills, rather than simply ushering you into a new area. Early on in your adventures you’ll notice plenty of inviting ledges, platforms, and doors that you just can’t seem to be able to reach. Just take note of these places and return when you’re better equipped for the job.

What’s bad:

bulletYou can only save your game at various “save statues” scattered around. When playing as Sphinx you’ll often (but not always) find save statues located near important or dangerous areas, however when playing as the mummy there is only ONE save statue, which is located in the room where he starts each level. The reasoning behind this, I guess, is that the mummy is immortal and his game cannot end. The problem is, people who need to go to work, school, or church have no place to save their game if they’re in the middle of a mummy level, and the levels can sometimes take up to an hour to complete. Your only option is to either pause the game and leave your GameCube on until you are able to play again or forfeit and later restart the entire level over from the beginning. That sucks.
bulletThere is no spoken dialogue; all dialogue is presented in text captions at the bottom of the screen. While that’s not a problem in itself, the text is so small that it’s often not easily readable.
bulletWhile the controls are generally pretty smooth, Sphinx becomes a little unresponsive during combat. An improperly placed blow can cost you dearly because of the time it takes to recover.
bulletI found the ending unsatisfying… I won’t spoil it but to say that it begs for a sequel would be an understatement.
bulletIf you die and have to reload a game, you are forced to watch any intervening cutscenes with no way of skipping them. This is also a pain if you plan to replay the game, because since none of the dialogue is spoken you must keep pressing buttons to make the dialogue continue.

Difficulty (from Very Easy to Very Hard): Hard – Challenging not just because of the combat and platforming, but because of the puzzles as well.

My rating (from Very Bad to Very Good): Very Good

You will probably like this game if you liked these: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, The Hobbit, American McGee’s Alice, Zanzarah: The Hidden Portal