Video Game: Sphinx And The Cursed Mummy
A multi-platform Zelda clone
released in 2004 that takes extreme
liberties with both Egyptian history and mythology, rife with anachronisms
, Fridge Logic
, Rule of Cool taken too far
, and random fantasy elements
despite being ostentiably based on Egyptian history.
In other words, hell yeah this is freakin' awesome!
In actuality, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
is a very
nice little Action Adventure
game made by Eurocom, and it remains perhaps their only original IP. This bodes poorly
, but the actual game is remarkably fun, even if it makes absolutely no sense. The plot concerns Sphinx, a demigod in a kind of Alternate History
ancient Egypt where there are Funny Animals
. He's out training with his rival
Horus one day when he stumbles into a plot by the evil god Set to use the mystical Castle of Uruk to do the bad-guy thing and Take Over the World
. Meanwhile, Prince Tutankhamen—yep, that one—is preparing for his birthday celebration and his betrothal to his girlfriend. He gets stuffed in a sarcophagus, Strapped to an Operating Table
by his older brother, (an evil impostor, you see)
, and turned into a mummy. He's Only Mostly Dead
, though, and Sphinx stumbles into him and helps revive him with a canopic vase. The two then work together to help put a stop to Set's schemes to rule Egypt.
The game takes place in two parts. The majority of the game takes place as Sphinx, who does the running, jumping, and baddie-battling common to action adventure heroes. The Mummy, on the other hand, has his own separate sections that focus almost exclusively on puzzle-solving. These act as chapter breaks in Sphinx's story, and usually come after dungeons, major bosses, or other big quests.
Considered a "hidden treasure" of the past console generation, it's well worth a look. Each version should work just fine in the corresponding system of this generation.
This game contains examples of:
- Action Bomb: Slim Burbles explode, both deliberately and when struck. They are one of the few enemies that can be captured directly without having to weaken them first.
- Adventurer Archaeologist: You free one from the Cursed Palace — and yes, he even has a pith hat. In ancient Egypt. You probably shouldn't think about it too hard.
- Adventurer Outfit
- Anachronism Stew: The game's manual says "It is an ancient Egypt not told in the history books". However, a lot of players just chalked it up to Fantasy Counterpart Culture.
- Anticlimax: For those who finished the game, it's likely one of the most notable anticlimaxes they've ever seen in a video game. Poor Tutankhamen apparently trips over thin air and breaks the last jar—a very lazily written means of keeping him a mummy for future games, and one hell of a Player Punch, too.
- Amusing Injuries: All of the Mummy's powers are based on inflicting some form of severe harm on him—you know, things that would kill a living being. Fortunately for him he's technically dead already, but judging by his reactions it is still painful.
- Art Major Biology: Smiling Burbles, as a species, have been wearing their hats for so long that they're now born wearing them.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: The reason for the quest.
- Baleful Polymorph: One of the many curses inflicted on the mummy is the transformation into a small, flying Mook (useful for solving puzzles), and the Geb Queen boss can turn Sphinx into a frog (actually an integral step in battling this Puzzle Boss).
- Bittersweet Ending: The Big Bad is beaten but the last canopic jar is broken by the Mummy's bumbling clumsiness. But one of the characters says to not give up hope and that there may be another way to bring him back to life. Sadly a sequel to emphasize on this was never made.
- Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: The Bouncing Dart. It does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but there's no reason why.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Italian dub. "Cursed" was translated as "pasticciona" (clumsy) and the "Game Over" was translated as "Gioco Su". Sooo pitiful...
- Border Patrol: Don't fall into the water around Abydos; the presence of electric eels renders the water deadly.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Bipedal "frogs" with scales and red crests, skull-faced, spiny "rats" and... "armadillos", "electric eels" with anglerfish-like lures... The list goes on.
- Cartoon Creature: Some of the Funny Animal people in Heliopolis don't really resemble actual animals; they're kind of vaguely canid, but that's it.
- The Chew Toy: Does anything good ever happen to the Mummy? Ever? Maybe that's what the title means when it calls him "cursed"...
- The Chosen One: There's a five-part prophecy scattered throughout Heliopolis that outright declares Sphinx the chosen one.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Horus.
- Collection Sidequest: Capturing all the monsters in the game and bringing them to the Museum.
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is short, and requires you to navigate an open field without getting hit by a Death Ray. In other words, you'll have to limit how long you run down the canyon before run for cover. (Fortunately, hanging from ledges can also be used as cover.)
- Cutscene Incompetence: When the young prince trips over and breaks the final jar. It doesn't get more idiotic or contrived. Imhotep then mentions there may still be another way. Despite not thinking to ask Anubis, Guardian of the Dead, standing not two feet away.
- Death Is Cheap: As long as Sphinx has enough Life Ankhs, he can survive being struck by a deadly laser (see below) and falling into lava/ a nearly bottomless pit and will reappear a safe distance away. The Mummy however, due to not relying on Ankhs, can survive the aforementioned pit an infinite amount of times-even when still fully alive!
- Death Ray: The Eye of Ra posts. Even though they only do minor damage, you get teleported back to your last checkpoint. If you absolutely have to cross their territory, the Shield of Osiris can block them.
- Doppelgänger: Turns out that Prince Akhenaten was in fact the evil Set in disguise. He attempts to take Tutankhamen's form through a dark ritual, revealing the ability to pose as a person requires draining the life and soul from the original. Poor Akhenaten.
- Egyptian Mythology
- Everybody Hates Hades: Averted. While Anubis is a popular villain in many Egyptian Mythology-based works, here he turns out to be one of Sphinx's allies, while the more-appropriate Set takes the villain role.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: If you have even a passing knowledge of ancient Egpyt and its culture, it's much easier to accept this as simply a land loosely based on it.
- Funny Animal: Most of them are either birds (Horus, and most residents of Abydos) or cats. However, there are also crocodiles, aardvarks, and, in one instance, a tapir. Also dogs, maybe a jackal (Anubis), and even a baboon (Imhotep). Sphinx doesn't himself count as his only animal elements are somewhat pointed ears and a short, tufted tail.
- Global Currency Exception: The decidedly paranoid shopkeeper in Heliopolis only accepts Onyx Scarabs as payment, which only the Mummy can collect. Since they can be difficult to find (typically requiring fire to obtain), and you only get a limited amount of time to play as him, some of the stuff he sells can become Lost Forever if you didn't collect them all. (Fortunately, there's a small excess of Onyx Scarabs in the game, so you do not have to collect literally all of them.)
- Heart Container: You get a Gold Ankh after defeating each boss. Plus, you can collect Ankh Pieces, 4 of which create a Gold Ankh — but you have to find someone to assemble them for you before they take effect.
- Heroic Mime: Sphinx doesn't have any dialog, and neither does Tutankhamen.
- Hollywood Acid: The Acid Dart can eat through several feet of solid iron in a couple seconds. Granted, it's magic but still, it's a tiny bit of acid!
- Idiot Ball: When Sphinx goes to retrieve the crown from the Pharaoh's throne room, he doesn't simply lift the crown and leave. He needs to release the Pharaoh first. The fault isn't his, however, as neither Anubis nor Imhotep felt the need to tell Sphinx he was evil, so one of them was definitely carrying the ball.
- Iron Butt Monkey: The Mummy takes a lot of punishment, but never actually dies from anything.
- Lethal Lava Land: The land of Uruk.
- Life Meter: Sphinx starts out with three Ankhs (appropriate, as the Ankh is the symbol for Life), each with three hits. This can be upgraded with a Gold Ankh or four Gold Ankh pieces.
- A Load of Bull: The Big Bull. Although it is noted to have more of a ram-like head, it still counts.
- Lost Forever: In the NTSC version of the game, the Smiling Burble monster can easily become Lost Forever, rendering 100% Completion impossible. The PAL version fixes this bug, though.
- Me's a Crowd: A few of the Mummy levels involve him being split into three copies of himself by a trap, leading to puzzles that require teamwork between his selves.
- Mini-Game: There are four of them in Abydos: Tile matching, a target shoot, Simon Says, and an obstacle course.
- Misplaced Wildlife: ...Chihuahuas? In Name Only, even. They more closely resemble Bull Terriers alive while the mummified versions appear to be undersized Boston Terriers, before Boston. Wrap your head around that.
- Mons: You can capture monsters and release them later to perform an attack against other monsters. Armadillos and Slim Burbles are also frequently used to solve puzzles.
- Musical Gameplay: The combat makes use of this everywhere. Whenever Sphinx hits an enemy a musical note is heard in conjunction with the base music. A final note is played when he delivers the final blow on an enemy as well.
- Nitro Boost: The glowing pads in Heliopolis (unlocked using Atun Eyes) will temporarily increase Sphinx's running speed by a large amount, and are useful for getting around the wide open spaces of Heliopolis.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Sphinx lifting the curse on the Pharaoh bites him in his ass when it turns out he's the reason the curse was put in place.
- Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: Sphinx takes a point of damage if he falls into one; the Mummy is put back unharmed (having no Hit Points to lose)
- Obviously Evil: All the birds in Abydos are lovely, except for the shifty vultures. Guess who's up to no good? And Horus, considering his general arrogance and jerkass nature.
- Obvious Trap: Oh, what's that? Using "The Dark Stone of Invisibility" has unforeseen dangers. Thank the gods you've arrived to stop me!
- One-Winged Angel: Not only the Final Boss, but the flying skull demon that the boss of Abydos becomes.
- Oxygen Meter: When Sphinx dives below water, five air bubbles appear to mark Sphinx's air.
- Plot Coupon: Canopic Vases (which marks the transition from Sphinx to a Mummy level), the stolen Abydos Jewels (which the Mummy collects), and the four Sacred Crowns (to fulfill an ancient prophecy). Not to mention the assortment of other quest-related items Sphinx will acquire along the way.
- Point of No Return: The game warns you pretty strongly that you won't be able to return after going to the final confrontation, so take care of your business beforehand.
- Power at a Price: The Dark Stone Of Invisilibity grant the user invisibility in exchange for their life. Not very useful for Sphinx, but as for the already-undead Mummy...
- Puzzle Boss: You can't just slash away at bosses with your sword. You'll need to find something else in the arena to either damage them for you, or stun them so you can attack (and even then, you can only land one hit before having to repeat the process). The Final Boss is an exception, however, its challenge is in simply getting within range to land that hit in the first place.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: To an extent, Bas-Khet.
- Rule of Cool: The reason Ancient Egypt has a great wall, volcanoes, flaming armadillos, and giant death rays.
- Scenery Porn: The start menu is a zoom around of the Castle of Uruk, showing every detail of the exterior. Abydos also qualifies, with the group of pyramids in the background of the city that would make the Giza Pyramids look tiny!
- Sequel Hook: The game ends with an obvious one, which unfortunately, given the lack of commercial success for the game, will never happen.
- Shaggy Dog Story: The Prince's side of the story.
- Shifting Sand Land: It's natural to expect this considering it's set in Egypt, but surprisingly, the only sand you'll find is in Heliopolis (Abydos is a city surrounded by water, and Uruk has rock and lava, but no sand). Fortunately for you, there's no quicksand to worry about.
- Silence Is Golden: Sphinx and the Mummy have no dialog whatsoever, and as chatty as other characters are, their dialogue isn't voice-acted either; rather, you have their text accompanied by sound effects (voice grunts, etc.) to imply what their voice should sound like.
- Soul Jar: A literal example with the Canopic Vases, which hold pieces of Tutankhamen's soul and generally cue a level spent playing as him.
- Stock Video Game Puzzle: Played straight in some of the puzzles the Sphinx comes across (switches and levers, a few pressure plates, blocks, etc.); the Mummy will have to deal with these too. On the other hand, then there are the mummy's ... unique means of solving puzzles...
- Taken for Granite: What Anubis did to the inhabitants of the Cursed Palace in Heliopolis. Why? To stop their Pharoah from handing over the Crown of Heliopolis to the evil god Set.
- Thriving Ghost Town: Abydos is surprisingly empty; only the town hall has any real density of people.
- Tumblr: The fandom has always had a loose hold in Tumblr, but with the recent creation of an ask blog for the character Set , as well as the fandom's increasing activity (such as discovering secrets hidden in the disk), this hold seems to be growing.
- Unwinnable: A single Game-Breaking Bug in the second Mummy level can leave the game in this state, leaving you trapped behind a locked door forever. After the cutscene with Set, do NOT save at the save point, or you'll be trapped for good. Another rare problem encountered was when you're supposed retrieve the Abydosian Crown and give it to Anubis. Anubis wouldn't acknowledge that the crown had already been retrieved and put into the inventory, thus making further progress impossible—a rage-inducing experience since that's past the halfway point of the game.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Sphinx's torso only has that collar-thing.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: After his attempt to kill Sphinx with the Dark Stone of Invisibility, Horus then reports to Set... and is never seen or heard from again.
- Similarly, the sorcerer and right-hand-man of Set, Menes, is with Set when they discover that the Mummy is the intruder in the cutscene in the last Castle of Uruk visit as the Mummy ... but he was not seen after this. It was possible that this was intentional, and he wold be set up as a major antagonist in the sequel, but sadly we'll never know.
- The REAL Ahkenaten's fate is also never revealed in the course of the game, being impersonated by Set since the very beginning of the game.
- X-Ray Sparks: Seen occasionally when the Mummy gets electrified.