Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy

Go To

Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a 2004 multi-platform Zelda clone made by Eurocom that takes extreme liberties with both Egyptian history and mythology, rife with anachronisms, Fridge Logic, and random fantasy elements despite being ostensibly based on Egyptian history. Considered a "hidden treasure" of the sixth console generation, it's well worth a look.

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, 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.

In late 2016, THQ Nordic purchased the rights to the game, having expressed an eagerness in how well it matches the likely audience for the Nintendo Switch. In November 2017, it released on Steam, and sure enough, a Switch version was released in January 2019.

This game contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: Luxor Palace is filled with secret passages leading to old dilapidated portions of the building. It's a wonder some of these rooms are still intact since they look like no-one's been there in years.
  • 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.
  • 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: Poor Tutankhamen apparently trips over thin air and breaks the last jar, keeping him a mummy for future games.
  • Amusing Injuries: All of the Mummy's powers are based on inflicting some form of severe harm on him, things that would kill a living being. Fortunately for him he's technically dead already, but judging by his reactions it is still painful.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: The reason for the quest.
  • 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. However, a sequel to capitalize 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: The Italian dub. "Cursed" was translated as "pasticciona" (clumsy) and the "Game Over" was translated as "Gioco Su".
    • The Spanish version of the title decided to translate "Cursed Mummy" literally by putting Cursed before Mummy, probably because they wanted to stay faithful to the original word-placement. Where's the problem, you might ask? It's grammatically correct; but that placement in Spanish makes "Cursed" come across as "Damned/Damn", meaning that the game was accidentally called something that more-often-than-not could be interpreted as a swear: "Sphinx and the Damn Mummy".
  • 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.
  • Cat Folk: Sphinx himself. He's got lion-like facial features, a short tail, and a claws on his hands and feet.
  • The Chew Toy: Nothing good ever happens to the Mummy.
  • 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. Fortunately, hanging from ledges can also be used as cover.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: In the final cutscene, the young prince trips over and breaks the final jar.
  • Death is Cheap: As long as Sphinx has enough Life Ankhs, he can survive being struck by a deadly laser, falling into lava, or 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.
  • Doppelg√§nger: 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.
  • 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 Egypt and its culture, it's much easier to accept this as simply a land loosely based on it.
  • Forced Transformation: 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).
  • 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 (plus his lion-esque button nose).
  • Fusion Dissonance: The two vulture advisors fight Sphinx by fusing into a golden humanoid skeleton with bat-like wings and a skull shaped like a Pharaoh's nemes.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: A particularly nasty and notorious one that can catch many first time players off guard, and renders the game Unwinnable. It is very important to ignore the second save point in the second mummy level - if you save there, then quit and resume (or finish the level, but then die as Sphinx before reaching another save point), the doors in front of you will be closed, and there is absolutely no way to reopen them, ever. You will have to erase your file and start the game all over again.
    • Thankfully, though, this bug only exists in the original release - it has since been fixed in the Steam and Switch versions.
  • 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 are permanently missable 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.
  • 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 releases 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.
  • Idle Animation: Sphinx's is to brush his palms together a few times and glance around. The Mummy has two; one is a startled "huh?" and quickly looking to the side, and the other is to put a hand over his eye(s) and look around slowly.
  • 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 to around twenty or so.
  • 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 and armadillos, among other misplaced creatures, appear in Ancient Egypt.
  • 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.
  • Mouth Flaps: A very bizarre inversion. The game has very well-animated mouth movements, but the characters are absolutely silent; all the dialogue is via text.
  • 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.
  • 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: Using "The Dark Stone of Invisibility" has unforeseen dangers.
  • One-Winged Angel: Not only the Final Boss, but the flying skull demon that the boss of Abydos becomes.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: The Big Bull. Although it is noted to have more of a ram-like head, it still counts.
  • Oxygen Meter: When Sphinx dives below water, five air bubbles appear to mark Sphinx's air.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • In the NTSC version of the game, Smiling Burbles were unable to respawn, making them unable to be captured if all were killed in their encounters, rendering 100% Completion impossible. The PAL version fixed this bug, and this is no longer the case in THQ Nordic's release of the game in 2017, where this monster can respawn in Uruk Canyon.
    • However, for some reason the Piranha and Exo-Piranha don't respawn after Sphinx first encounters them in Abydos in any version of the game.
  • Pickup Hierarchy:
    • Primary: Crowns, Canopic Vases, Jewels
    • Secondary: Anhk Pieces
    • Tertiary: Monsters, Scarabs, Dark Scarabs
    • Extra: Medals
  • Plot Coupon: Canopic Vases mark 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 Invisibility grants the user invisibility in exchange for their life. Not very useful for Sphinx, but as for the already-undead Mummy...
  • Psycho Electric Eel: They serve as Border Patrol in one section.
  • 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. 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.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The game implies that the Sphinx was the name of an individual person, in this case a god-in-training. This might have stemmed from the Greek's unique Riddling Sphinx, itself a misunderstanding of Egyptian ideas. A sphinx was usually a representation of a Pharaoh's protective power, usually a portrait of the individual as a lion with his human head (although ram- and falcon-headed sphinx statues exist).
  • 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 will likely never happen.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The Prince's side of the story ends with him breaking the last canopic jar and being stuck as a mummy.
  • 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 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, though the Mummy will have to deal with these too.
  • Taken for Granite: Anubis did this to the inhabitants of the Cursed Palace in Heliopolis to stop their Pharaoh 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.
  • Unintentionally 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 is when you're supposed to retrieve the Abydosian Crown and give it to Anubis. Anubis won'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.
  • Unique Enemy: The lone Sunflower in Uruk Canyon, and Uruk Temple has a giant Crabhands that climbs on the walls in it's room and dives down at you, the only one of it's variant in the game.
  • Vile Vulture: The mayor of Abydos has two vulture advisors who've been secretly working for Set.
  • 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.
    • The sorcerer and right-hand-man of Set, Menes, is with Set when they discover that the Mummy is the intruder in the last Castle of Uruk visit as the Mummy, but he is not seen after this.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Seen occasionally when the Mummy gets electrified.


Video Example(s):


Mummy Save Point

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.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / GameBreakingBug

Media sources: