Pharaoh's Tomb

Moby ID: 3200
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As a lowly research assistant Nevada Smith believes he's finally going to get his big break into the pages of archaeology 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.

Pharaoh's Tomb is comprised of four volumes:

  • Vol.1 - Raiders of The Lost Tomb
  • Vol.2 - Pharaoh's Curse
  • Vol.3 - Temple of Terror
  • Vol.4 - Nevada's Revenge!

The shareware version of the game is the entire first volume. Each volume of the game includes twenty levels taking place deeper and deeper into the pyramid. Pharaoh's Tomb uses a proprietary animation system called FAST (Fluid Animation Software Technology) which allows the game to run on older machines at a good performance level, however the restrictions of this system are the enemies located in bounding boxes and therefore players need to imagine a rectangle around enemies and other hazards in order to fully avoid them.

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Average score: 3.0 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings with 1 reviews)

Nice little game set in an Egyptian pyramid

The Good
Pharaoh’s Tomb is a refreshing change from the ASCII-based action games that Apogee did in the past. The game was made by George Broussard, one of the company’s founders who also brought us Trivia Whiz. Broussard as also the only employee to misspell his name in the credits. Frankly I'm not surprised, considering he doesn't know how to spell Wiz properly.

There are four episodes, and each one opens up with the protagonist, Nevada Smith, walking left to right and back again underneath the title. Pressing a key brings you to the main menu where you can start a new game; view the instructions and story so far; or display the high scores; and configure controls, among other things. The great thing about reading the story is that I had an image of Smith performing certain actions, and that is what’s important in any story. Each episode consists of 20 levels, with most of them having names that have the format of “The [Temple/Altar/Chamber/Tomb/etc.] of [name of some fictitious dude]”.

In each level, the object is to find your way to the other side. More often than not, you have to take some time to study each level so that you can find the best way to get the keys needed to unlock the exit. Enemies often get in the way of things, but you are equipped with a number of spears. There are also some traps that require some strategy to overcome. You have a limited number of lives, but you can get more either by getting 100 coins or by collecting five masks. There are some neat tricks Broussard used in some of the levels, one of these being the invisible wind that will get you onto platforms that can’t be reached by jumping. Although scrolls are useful for revealing hidden platforms, they can also be used to trap you in an area you can't get out of.

Pharaoh’s Tomb is one of the first games from Apogee to utilize CGA graphics. The nice thing about it is the palette the game uses; it blends well with the Egyptian theme. I like how there are symbols scattered throughout the 20 levels you must navigate in each of the four episodes. Each episode opens up with a short animation of Smith walking underneath the title. The animations of Smith and enemies are suburb. During the game, I enjoyed letting Smith come into contact with an enemy so that he can turn into a talking skull.

There is no music in this game, but then again, neither does any game from Apogee released in 1990. The sound effects are pretty basic, but there is a few I like, such as a spear coming into contact with an enemy. In my opinion, you really don't need such impressive sound effects for a game like Pharaoh’s Tomb.

There are three key combinations you can use to control your character, with one of them being the left and right shift keys. I prefer to use the left and right arrows since I found this much easier. Shooting is done by pressing one of the keys on the bottom row.

Users who brought the registered version of the game will receive a sheet full of instructions, hints, tips, and cheats. So if you’re stuck in the game, you can turn to the sheet for help. Like all games made by Apogee, Pharaoh’ Tomb has a built-in cheat mode, and this one requires activation from the title screen. This includes a cheat for warping to the next level, which is ideal if you are fed up playing the same level over and over again and not getting anywhere because you keep dying.

The Bad
I found the last episode to be a bit too easy. You could complete it in half an hour.

The Bottom Line
Pharaoh’s Tomb was actually based on a game that Broussard did called Pharaoh’s Pursuit, which has a similar sort of interface and the same amount of levels. When Apogee took the same game, split the levels into four volumes, modified these levels, and published them under their “Apogee Model”.

As the hero of this game, you must get through 80 levels full of enemies and traps in order to find the legendary Pharaoh's Tomb, and this can be done be collecting two keys that will unlock the passage to the next level. Pharaoh's Tomb is a platform game that requires some strategy. You must find the best route to the keys, and make sure that your timing is right when dealing with the traps.

This CGA game has a brown look that gives it an Egyptian feel . The enemies are detailed, and the animation is smooth. If you like platform games with a little bit of strategy, then you should try Pharaoh's Tomb. I believe that it is one of those early games that made its company rise to stardom.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43092) · 2020

Trivia

Although he misspelled his name in the title credits for the game and all subsequent volumes wrong, programmer George Broussard spelled his name correctly in the end credits for the last volume of the game.

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  • MobyGames ID: 3200
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Brolin Empey.

Macintosh, Windows added by ZeTomes.

Additional contributors: Depeche Mike, Pseudo_Intellectual.

Game added January 30, 2001. Last modified January 27, 2024.