LGR – Pharaoh’s Tomb – DOS PC Game Review

[fizz, sip] Aahhh! Pharaoh’s Tomb. You know, I don’t know why, but I
used to play this game ALL THE TIME when I was younger,
and I mean much younger. Like, between the ages of 6 and 9. So at that point, the game was pretty much brand new. It was released in 1990 by Apogee Software and developed by Micro F/X Software. Which essentially was George Broussard, who was more well-known as being
one of the earliest Apogee designers, as well as the designer of Duke Nukem. Oh… Duke Nukem. Oh, also of note is the fact that the
designer of the game, George Broussard, misspelled his own name on his own title screen. What kind of commitment is THAT? Oh, well. At least we know with his later games, he showed such epic commitment to the task at hand and made sure that the game would never come out if his name was misspelled in there. The game came out post-’80s, post-Indiana Jones, and not by far. And that is very, very obvious from the game. You ARE Nevada Smith, a research assistant to a professor of archaeology at a major university. Nevada. Smith. That’s unforgivable. You are wanting to be your professor, who in later games is revealed to be a Dr. Jones. Ha ha. But he always seems to leave you behind, who then goes and finds all the things, forgets about you, and takes all the glory. Even when you are the one who discovers stuff sometimes, which is the case in this game. So… Essentially, Mr. Jones is just a big, fat Dick Cheney. So you go after hours and sneak into his office and steal back the ancient map
of the Pharaoh’s Tomb and stuff and go to Egypt. Story is not important. This is a straightforward, old-school platforming game in the vein of Super Mario Bros. and a little bit of Pitfall. You are Nevada Smith going around the ancient pyramids, and all sorts of tombs of the pharaohs, it just so happens. It is so straightforward, there should not really be any explanation needed. However, I will. You have a single streen– [snorts] You have a single screen to explore. There are objects to get to give you points. You have the possibility of five lives, or men, at the bottom of the screen. The goal is to get to the end of the level by finding different keys and avoiding the obstacles along the way, such as heads with stilts, weird skulls, bat-looking things V’s, dots that shoot out of the wall, spikes, dancing flower vases, and most importantly, your own stupidity. And I say that because this game is, upon playing it again, incredibly evil. I had, and still have, nightmares about this game and now I remember why. And I kid you not here.
I am not just exaggerating. I really do have nightmares about this game. The game is set up in such a way that there are plenty of ways to get trapped and just die! You would have to commit suicide in order to get out of a certain area. Sometimes you’ll just be so stupid as to lock yourself in a little
place that you can’t get out of or you’ll jump somewhere that
looks like you’re SUPPOSED TO, and it’ll lock you in. Or just something mean like that. It’s just… completely overbearing and mentally draining to a child of any age. On top of all of that, the collision detection
in this game is notoriously bad. Apparently, I wasn’t the only
one who always thought this. I was just like, “Aw, the STUPID GAME!” “IT KILLED ME!” It really does. You will be going along,
minding your own freakin’ business, trying to jump around and avoid some FREAKY-looking thing, and you’ll just get nearby and it will kill you. You’ll try to jump over spikes and they will kill you. You’ll touch something without touching it. It will kill you. I don’t like that. But that is part of the challenge, in a way, and it kind of adds a whole new realm of
aggravation that wasn’t necessary. On the other hand, the game
is actually very, very addicting. I… still… very much enjoy it. The graphics use the secondary CGA palette of orange, green, black and… you know… those colors. So it really fits the whole Egyptian theme very well. One of the best uses of CGA colors in their limitations that I’ve seen. One of the most rewarding aspects of this game are the blocks that you can hit with your head to make coins or points or other things come out of. Sound familiar? Well that’s because it is a blatant ripoff of Mario. The controlling is honestly a lot like Pitfall. You sort of jump and you have this sort of moon gravity effect. If you’ve played Pitfall, you know what I mean. It’s not really a fluid jump, but you kind of– you can feel how the pixels are going to move and you can kinda steer your guy in the air. So, it’s interesting. The controls are relatively straightforward. Space is jump, most of the time. For some reason, it doesn’t always work. And then the whole bottom row of the keyboard is shoot. I guess George was just like,
“Screw it. I can’t figure this out,” “so I’m just gonna, like, make all the keys shoot,” “and screw that.” Thankfully, there is a save and restore feature, which is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you would never make
it past probably about Level 3 in this game, unless you’re just amazing at this. And nobody CAN be amazing at this because it’s impossible! That’s not a very solid argument, but I do not care! It’s just… completely evil. Not only is it a dark and twisted
game that makes you DIE for no good reason, and locks you into little places… I don’t know where I was going with that, but it’s wrong! It’s just a bad game. And I mean that in the nicest way
possible. I love Pharaoh’s Tomb. I just HATE IT! Because it, it’s MEAN!!! This level, the Grand Gallery, WHAT IS WRONG?! I SPENT 30 MINUTES ON THIS LEVEL! I don’t– [cries] ARGGH! I know George Broussard must get some
sort of odd, sadistic pleasure out of torturing his fans and players! He did it with Duke Nukem. He did it with Duke Nukem Forever. He’s doing it with Pharaoh’s Tomb. And he also did it with daggone Arctic
Adventure, which I will be getting to later. [deep sigh] Alright. It was released as freeware a few years back, so there’s no harm in
downloading the full version anywhere. So. Pharaoh’s Tomb. It’s an awesome game, but it’s not. Go get it today. Torture yourself.

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