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1991
Adventure: Graphic
£11.20
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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62
David McCandless
Chris Bourne

The Sphinx Jinx, apart from being quite a clever use of assonance, is the sequel to Total Eclipse, and the fourth game to use the revolutionary Freescape (TM) system. Incentive conceived it, and now Incentive is using it (a lot). previously, these games had been confined to the vacuous void (space to you), the moon and other nearby related satellites. Then came Total Eclipse which brought the system down to Earth, with an Egyptian setting, an early 20th century time zone and lots of sandy yellow graphics.

Just in case you didn't know, Freescape is the graphics system whereby the gamesplayer has complete access to an entire world. He can go anywhere, look anywhere, and publicly demonstrate against Thatcherite autocracy anywhere - complete freedom. He sees a 3D perspective world, with buildings and objects depicted by geometric blocks, shaded to give a sense of solidity and realism. As he wanders through this Pytogorian landscape, buildings slide closer, walkways flitter past overhead, and doorways leading to interior locations open up.

The story so far... An ancient but temperamental High Priest of Re (the Sun God) got a bit narked with his people when they started falling out with religion, missing church on Sundays to play golf. So he erected (steady!) a huge great pyramid in reverence to his God, and built an exclusive little shrine at its apex. The pyramid was magically charged so that, if anything blocked the sun's rays during the day, it would be destroyed. Unfortunately, today is 26 October 1930, and a total eclipse of the sun by the moon is due in about two hours, which means that the moon will be destroyed and the earth peppered with large bits of it.

All that happened in Total Eclipse I, but now in The Sphinx Jinx, to exorcise the curse completely, you have to search for the 12 pieces of the sphinx, which have been hidden in the underground passages beneath the pyramid.

This game is not as much of an arcade adventure as I had expected. There are no objects to be collected and manipulated and most puzzles come when you try and suss out the complicated layout of the chamber. The rooms are puzzles in themselves, requiring some acute observation and agility. Gold bars lie here and there if you fancy a quick bout of sacrilegious pillaging.

The graphics aren't detailed but the sphinx, made up of 12 shapes is very good and very big. All the shapes are amazingly versatile and manage to rotate in three dimensions without flaw, although some rooms required a bit of imagination before I could suss out what they were meant to look like. Gameplay is quite slow (not surprising considering all the meaty algorithms that are being pounded through the Speccy's tiny brain) but when the pyramid is fraught with traps and long falls you're glad for the lack of speed.

This is the easiest Freescape game to get into so far, because most of the action is concentrated in inside locations rather than across a massive roving landscape. The Sphinx Jinx comes in a double pack with Total Eclipse I, that equals at least three or four long weekends worth on one tape. Though at present it's only available through the Home Computer Club, it'll be put on general release soon. Excellent value.

Excellent Egyptian elaboration on the Total Eclipse theme, fab value, and good 'entry-level' for Freescape games.

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90%

Banner Text

This shows the number of ankhs collected. Ankhs are magical symbols used to open the locked doors which bar your progress.

This is the value of treasure collected. Not only are you out to save the world, but you're going to invest the apocalyptic profits in the Stock Market too.

This is the current state of the eclipse. When the moon completely obfuscates (what a word) the sun then bang! Goodbye cruel world.

WATER BOTTLE

It's hot in Egypt. The water is there to stop you being shrivelled up and embalmed by the sun. It can be refilled at water troughs hidden inside the pyramid.

WRIST WATCH

Remarkably enough this helps you keep an eye on the time. The eclipse will happen at ten o' clock sharp, so keep moving.

HERT BEAT

THis shows how fast your heart is pulsating - if it pulsates too fast you die.

COMPASS

This is an essential part of any adventurer's equipment. Use it to make a map.

PYRAMIDIOCY

In 19686, a group of American scientists X-rayed every inch of the Chephren pyramid in Egypt. During the experiment, X-ray scans, made from the same point at the same time on consecutive days, were completely different, as though the interior of the pyramid was constantly changing...

When Karl Drbal, an Hungarian engineer, placed a blunt razor blade in his cardboard scale model of the great pyramid of Giza, he found, after a week, that the blade had mysteriously sharpened itself, as if it had never been used in the first place!

Digging up lost Pharoh's tomb's is not an occupation life-insurance firms approve of, especially after some inquisitive archaeologists, led by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, discovered and broke into Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. In the years after the discovery, over a dozen people connected with the tomb dies in suspicious circumstances. Carnarvon was bitten on the cheek by a mosquito in the tomb, the bite became infected, and he died of pneumonia. And at the exact moment of his death, all the lights in Cairo went out. And back home in Hampshire, his dog howled once and died on the spot. Stranger still was the mark found on the cheek of the mummified remains of Tutankhamun - it corresponded exactly to the injury that killed Lord Carnarvon...

Screenshot Text

Now I'm looking down from a ledge suspended high above the ground. |You have to be pretty wary when you enter a new room as some doors lead onto wafer-thin balconies, which in turn leadd to Eiffel-high drops.