As a lowly research assistant Nevada Smith believes he's finally going to get his big break into the pages of archeology by discovering a long lost tomb. His glory is soon stolen away from him by the professor he's assisting at the University. The same professor he's been assisting for years in the hopes of tagging along for a treasure hunt. Tired of taking things lying down Nevada sneaks into the professor's office and steals back the ancient map he found and afterwards he runs home to pack his bags and outrun the professor to the tomb inside one of the great pyramids of Egypt.
Once inside the pyramid, Nevada will face hazards such as traps, falling spikes, bottomless pits, and dangerous denizens of the pyramids including, bats, monsters, and of course mummies to say the least. Nevada must find a number of keys on each level to advance to the next level and must also be on the lookout for treasures. one other hazard in his way are mysterious winds that blow on certain levels which add to the challenge of exploring the level. Nevada isn't exactly defenseless however. His adventures begin with five lives and he's got a couple of spears which he can throw at the creatures in his way.
Pharaoh's Tomb is a platform game where the player controls the actions of Nevada Smith. Nevada can run around and jump and he can also throw spears at enemies. More spears can be picked up on certain levels and bonus lives to give you a better chance at getting through the adventure can also be found or earned. Levels are passed once the required number of keys or treasures are found. Players can save their progress at the beginning of any level. Enemies in Pharaoh's Tomb are restricted to move in strict patterns and players must pay close attention to these patterns to avoid them. Throwing spears at enemies also requires some space between the player and the enemy and therefore enemies can't be speared when Nevada is right next to them.
Here's an old classic from George (".....when it's done!") Broussard's semi-post Micro F/X and early Apogee days. We have here one of the good old multi-episode epics back when even the most simplistic action games seemed to go on forever, and depending how fast you play, this one probably will too. If you loved the old Apogee and Epic action "sagas" like Keen, Secret Agent Man, Jill of the Jungle, etc. then you know this is a good thing.
The story, like in most of these older titles, almost always consists of one or two text screens at the beginning, end, or both of each episode. This game is no exception. Even with the prerendered and cg cutscene world we live in today, these little screenies are still quite motivating. You play the role of Nevada Smith, research assistant to a very famous and prominent archaeologist who's decided to leave you behind during one of his important tomb expeditions one time to many. Not to mention you're the one who found the tomb in the first place, so off you go to grab your own piece of glory in the dangerous depths of the lost pharoah's tomb!
Welcome to your world, a classic 4 color egyptian keep. The environments on each level look great for their time and they succeed well in giving off the classic dark, dangerous, tomb type of vibe. The animations are a little meh even for this age, but what's really weird is how freaky some of the enemies look. Some of the enemies that creep around in these tombs and some of the items pretty much defy the laws of pixel graphics as they're so hard to make out. Did that lump of clay just shoot an arrow at me, or was that an ancient burger patty? Did I just collect a coin or a five-thousand year old taco? The main tomb guardians have devoted their entire afterlives to guarding the pharoah's tomb against all intruding threats. So devoted, they have even found the time to make pretty belts that match their green, soul-less eyes; Talk about incredibly motivated staff! Perhaps one of the main laws of pixel graphics is not knowing what the hell things are supposed to be. Weird as things can get in the tomb, like most of these older games, they still have a bizarre charm to them you just don't see in too many modern games. I'd take on a meatpatty beast over some realistic skull warrior anyday! Long live CGA, long live Apogee, long live cocaine?
The gameplay here is quite fun. It's classic platforming action with some levels that can be a bit puzzle-like. Even though all the levels have a similar pattern, there's quite a bit of variety. Some levels are just standard fare, but then there's other unique levels like the windy rooms, which are always a doozy. The puzzle-esque parts appear as odd rooms that seem almost unbeatable. Normally the solution lies in one of the magic items, like the freeze spell or doing certain jumps and key collecting in a certain order. If you get key 'x' before getting key 'y' you'll be stuck etc. I'm sure you'll figure most of this stuff out. The main threats you have to worry about are some of the various enemies, mummy guards, bats, blobs etc. which can seemingly all be dealt with by chucking a bloody spear at them. Some can shoot things at you as well, and some are just experts at being in the way of certain jumps you need to perform. This, at times, kind of leads back to the puzzleish elements I mentioned earlier. It's hands-on action that can really force you to think at certain times. Those spears are a godsend when you're on the right side of them horizontally, but land on one vertically and say goodnight. The same bloody spears you use to attack enemies await you at the bottom of many pits. Aside from that you've got grinding spike poles (bloodstained with experience) and some of the walls can fire projectiles as well.
There's no soundtrack to my knowledge, only bleeps, pops, and a whole lot of farts from the pc speaker for the sound effects. Classic dos soundtrack in every sense of the word. Simplistic, but still manages to set a bit of ambience in the world. The effects are pretty well done and aren't disturbingly obnoxious like alot of other pc titles that used the speaker for sound.
Overall, I say this game is a must have if you're a fan of the old Apogee titles. If you're not, perhaps playing through this should inspire you to dig up even more of these awesome sagas of the pixelated past. Pharoah's Tomb is great game to keep coming back to just for fun, or a serious playthrough. Lots of replay value, it's been nearly a decade since I first found this game and I still haven't grown weary of that first entrance level.
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