THQ Nordic brought the Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy from 2003 to Nintendo Switch, but the game feels its age and doesn’t justify the price tag.
Of all the many Nintendo Switch ports Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy perhaps the most confusing. Originally published in 2003 and developed by the late Eurocom, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was one of several 3D action platformer games released for the sixth generation of consoles. At the time Sphinx was generally well received by critics but a commercial flop, not even receiving cult classic status. The early 2000s were inundated with 3D platforms and Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was just another drop in the ocean.
Fast forward to today and THQ Nordic now has the Sphinx and the Cursed Mumyour license. After releasing a remastered version on PC in 2017, THQ Nordic brought the game to Switch. The Switch port is identical to the 2017 version but, problem, the game plays exactly like the original from 2003. A few new textures can’t help Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy to feel like a 16 year old game that should have stayed in the past.
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Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy has an interesting concept. It’s not necessarily unique in 2019, but it’s still intriguing. There are two playable characters in the game, the brave warrior Sphinx and the cowardly mummy of Tutankhamun. They play completely differently, the sections of the Sphinx game being Zelda-esque. He jumps, explores, hits enemies with his sword, and solves minor puzzles. Meanwhile, the mummy avoids the fight, preferring almost entirely to sneak up and plot. If Sphinx is the muscle, mom is the brain.
TO Sphinx and the Cursed Mummycredit for this mix of playing styles works as well in 2019 as in 2003. Switching between playing styles allows Sphinx to feel fresher for longer. Still, decent gameplay, crucial as it is, can’t save the whole experience. For better and (a lot) for worse, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a 2003 game that was released in 2019 with a few updates.
The most obvious flaw are the visuals. While the Sphinx and Mummy character models look good, the same work doesn’t seem to fit into the world they inhabit. NPCs seem straight out of the new millennium and the environments are flat, jagged and empty. This is especially present in Switch’s lower resolution portable mode. These visuals are more than just an aesthetic defect because the poor rendering of environments and special effects can make some lenses much more difficult than necessary. What is a survival platform and what is deadly isn’t obvious, as they have the same block structure.
The gameplay is just as dated. The different styles of the two playable characters are interesting initially but overall, Sphinx is a frustrating relic of the past and is often just plain boring. The camera is often uncooperative and too bouncy, and the platform is awkward, with the Sphinx character feeling like he’s made of helium and way too floaty. The Mummy, since it’s less platform-focused, is much easier to control in comparison, but the platform controls aren’t the only added danger. Combat feels like it’s haphazard with no targeting system and Sphinx savagely throwing his sword back and forth at enemies.
The most disappointing aspect of Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy from afar however, is that he is simply lifeless. Sphinx has massive levels, but in 2019 those levels should be teeming with life, secrets, or both. This is not the case with Sphinx where environments are sterile and bland. The sound design doesn’t take over either. Despite a lot of dialogue in the game, there is no dubbing. There are only lines and lines of text that don’t help make the long story engaging. The music is also painfully generic, so even that can’t keep the interest going for long. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy takes place in a fantasy version of ancient Egypt, but none of that personality appears in the game.
An important defect to note with Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is an issue with the audio when playing in TV mode of the Switch. The Screen Rant review copy was unable to play sound while playing the game with the Switch docked. Audio worked fine in portable mode, but all audio had dropped once the switch was in its dock. We have contacted THQ Nordic and they have identified the issue and promised that a fix will be available within a week.
Even though the lack of audio is only a temporary issue, it’s still hard to recommend Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy for its high price. It’s a 16 year old game that has aged badly and doesn’t have much nostalgic value.
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Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is available now for $ 29.99 on Nintendo Switch. Screen Rant has received a copy for review.
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