Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy (Switch) review

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Nobody really remembers Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, which makes it a rather odd property to be resurrected from the dead. Originally released on GameCube in the early 2000s, it was released during the renaissance of action platform games, with Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper and Jak & Daxter cement the PS2 as the place to be. Add the fact that this was an original IP from a now defunct developer who mostly worked on ports from other games or licensed links, and Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, despite its quality, slowly sank into the sands of time and memory.

But that’s just the thing. Developer Eurocom may have made a name for himself working on Harry potter games or James bond entrees that ranged from decent to dreadful, but for a short time it produced something really great. Fortunately, THQ Nordic has reclaimed the rights to this forgotten gem and now it has been given an HD paint lick and adjusted to fit the widescreen ratios of modern games. It still has some of its original flaws – it’s not a full remaster, after all – but it doesn’t take long to understand why Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is such an underrated addition to a populous genre.

As the title so cryptically hides, you’ll spend most of your time playing the part of the Sphinx, a free-spirited demigod and … well, a Mummy. When our deified hero is warned that the evil god Set is planning to plunge the world into darkness, he heads to the realm of mortals to foil his plans. Elsewhere, Prince Tutankhamun (yes, this Tutankhamun) has stumbled upon a secret conspiracy led by his older brother, Akhenaton, and is captured and forced into a black magic ritual. Sphinx arrives and interrupts the dubious ceremony, but not before poor old Tut is transformed into an undead monster and transported to the Sphinx realm.

With his slim body and long strides, Sphinx moves and controls much like Jak from the Jak & Daxter games, but with a little less bounce. You’ll start with a single jump and no way to protect yourself (stone throwing bar), but you’ll soon be collecting trinkets and tools as you go, including the rather useful Blade of Osiris, as well as the ability to double down. jump and wield a handy shield. Rather than resigning Tut to being a sidekick (a la Daxter or Clank), the game gives the titular cursed mummy their own unique sections.

While Sphinx takes up the majority of the game with an emphasis on exploration, combat, and platforming, Tut focuses more on stealth and puzzle solving. Since he’s technically dead, our mummified hero can take much more damage than Sphinx and can use special routes (like sarcophagi that transport you to secret places). The puzzles are still quite obtuse, but in an era where everything is marked out and over-tutorialized, this is a feature of yesteryear that is a real asset to the overall adventure of Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. Paired with the awesome restoration applied to its visuals, you get an action platform classic that suits Switch’s plethora of remastered hits.

As is the case with many other HD remasters, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy isn’t perfect and brings its own set of legacy issues. A questionable camera – the bane of almost all 3D platform games – here too is pointing its ugly head, too often stuck in the landscape or taking too long to straighten up when transitioning from one level to another in an area . This can make the rig a little tricky at times, but considering how good Sphinx and Cursed Mummy is thanks to its HD paint coat (it was a pretty decent game the first time around) and how smooth it performed. on Switch, it’s an issue you’ll learn to live with if the genre matters enough to you.

The yawning distances between save points – another wonderful tactic from the “old platform game book” – weren’t addressed either. Not that we expected them to be, but without any form of autosaving to rely on, it’s easy to lose 20-30 minutes of progress when you miss the time for a jump and dive right into it. lava, or that you explode into a thousand pieces by a two-legged explosion. leprechaun. This was a problem the first time around, and in an era of autosave saturation, newcomers might find this manual malarkey a bitter pill to swallow.

Conclusion

While its platform mechanics are still a bit unpredictable at times – and the huge gaps between save points persist – the quality of Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy does shine nonetheless. Weaving hand-to-hand combat, environmental puzzles, and plenty of platforming with a fun and interesting take on Egyptian mythology, it’s an action-platformer that holds up really well, despite the years spent on its clock. . Its camera might still suck a bit, but with a new coat of HD paint, it’s a hidden gem worth a little time in the limelight.


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