If one was to pick a list of 10 games they'd want ported from the GameCube/PS2/Xbox era of games onto the Nintendo Switch, chances are that Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy wouldn't even be in consideration, but alas here we are. Eurocom's action-adventure title has been picked up once more by THQ Nordic and dropped onto the Nintendo Switch for a new port, which much like the legends of mummies of Ancient Egypt, breathes new life into a game that first landed all the way back in 2003.
Functionally the game works in a similar way to The Legend of Zelda games like Ocarina of Time in the sense that the world unfolds as you unlock more items to get to new places and unlock key doors. Your abilities increase in potency and number as you continue on your journey, eventually culminating in your hero's journey to save the day, meaning it's not quite a linear experience and you might need one of those old-fashioned early-noughties Internet walkthroughs to guide you onto the right path.
If you hadn't gathered by the not-so-subtle naming of this game, the theme of the day is Ancient Egypt, as you play as the titular Sphinx who sets off with his (not really) buddy Horus to find the Blade of Osiris. You go to the evil land of Uruk to do this, and when you eventually find it, your escape is foiled and you are told by your master Imhotep to go through a mysterious portal instead. As the plot unfolds we get more amulets that in turn open more portals, allowing for more travel destinations, although we can still travel to places via foot or boat if we need to.
Then comes the 'Cursed Mummy' bit, which is all about young price Tutankhamen who is betrayed by his older brother (on his birthday no less!) and turned into a mummy for an evil ritual, although when this is interrupted he leaves his brother for dead. Except he's not really, as by discovering Canopic Vases you can switch to Tutankhamen's mummified body for short periods of time, as he's in Uruk Castle all the time you're wandering around doing your business.
Why would you need to do this though? Well, Sphinx's journey requires items in the Castle of Uruk, and through a basket brought to life (of course) the things Tutankhamen finds in Uruk can be transported back to Sphinx, allowing him to continue his journey onwards. So we, therefore, find ourselves regularly switching between the two heroes, although the majority of the game is spent as Sphinx admittedly.
These offer two distinctly different gameplay avenues. This is because Sphinx has a sword and various different abilities which means he can fight all sorts of dangers rather than simply platform, while Tutankhamen is effectively dead, so he can't die despite all of the traps in the castle.
A fun side note with your mummified pal is that his more puzzle-oriented levels often require you to make use of his immortality by setting yourself alight or electrocuting your body in order to use other items, which provides this rather morbid comedy as he hops around on fire while you're trying to open a door.
One can't forget the creatures either, as Sphinx is able to use capture beetles to catch creatures he finds in the world, providing he lowers their health sufficiently. These can either be used to access new parts of the world, like burning down wooden objects or exploding things, or they can be donated to the museum for rewards like Ankh pieces that increase your health. It's not a terribly deep system, but this along with the other items like the shield and blowdarts help keep things fresh.
In this world, there are also plenty of extras to look at alongside the main story as well. In the town of Abydos you can engage in mini-games to earn scarabs, which can then buy items like creatures, but there are also other side quests with NPCs that you can pursue for fun. Again none of this is very deep, but it's extra content for those who want a bit more to see and do in Egypt.
Now onto the big news - what's new on Switch? Well, it's the same base game, it's not a remake from the ground up like 2016's Ratchet and Clank. That said it does look a lot better, even if you can see that this extra layer of polish is being laid over a 16-year-old game. Some textures are still a little rough around the edges and the models are rather angular, but the colours pop and it's by no means an eyesore, even when docked and running on the big screen.
Button indicators on the top right (as you can see in some of the screenshots in this article) always remind you how to control your character as well, so ease of use has certainly been considered. Everything runs and controls well both docked and undocked too, with a few extra bells and whistles added, like being able to control the camera with the touchscreen (although this was rather useless we have to admit). You can even use the gyro to aim the blowdarts when firing.
Not everything is hunky dory with this reinvigorated game though, as the camera still poses some problems. It often gets caught in the scenery, and when trying to navigate the corridors of a tomb, that can prove troublesome. Also, we know it's a simple port, but with the visuals looking that bit better we can't help but notice the lack of voice acting, which would've helped with the story immensely.
Overall though this game has made it not only unscathed onto the Switch, we'd say improved as well. It looks the part, and it's more the overall design philosophy than the actual presentation that makes this feel like a game that first came out in 2003. It's still fun to play and offers a challenge for young and old alike, but the lack of voice acting is a real blow to what could've been a chance to show this off to a whole new audience in the best possible light.
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