Atari 2600 – Riddle of the Sphinx


Also known as: “Getting rocks thrown at you” Simulator 1982

My favorite Atari 2600 developer Imagic is back with some more next level sh*t.
It may look like a simple adventure game but there is more than meets the eye.

You are Pharaoh’s son and you have to lift the curse of Anubis by going to Ra’s Temple and solving the riddle of the Sphinx.
There are three gameplay variations.
In the first one, you only have to reach the temple which is utterly pointless and should be avoided.
Number two adds a few puzzles and number three is the whole package.
Go with this one.

The game takes place in the desert (duh!), filled with palm trees, pillars, and enemies.
Some are easily avoidable like scorpions and others are a real pain.
Especially thieves.
They are everywhere, steal your stuff on contact and constantly throw rocks at you. Teach ’em a lesson by throwing your own rocks at them.
Every hit slows you down a bit as does getting thirsty.
To combat this you can either use an item, drink from an oasis or touch the goddess Isis who appears randomly.

There are lots of items in this game.
So many that you need the second controller to handle them all.
I looove it.
Most are really useful like an amulet that grants invincibility or some legendary wine to get drunk for all eternity.
You get those by interacting with the numerous merchants or by touching Isis.
Other items are necessary to progress in the game.
I’ve read some bad reviews because the author had no idea which item to use but I highly advise them to read the manual for once.
It’s all there.

Basically, you have to offer two certain items to every one of the four temples.
In return they allow you to advance and give you another item which has to be offered to the next temple.
It’s fairly straightforward and all explained in the manual.
Just read it if you’re stuck.
Once you satisfy Ra or die, the game ends and since it is heavily randomized you might want to try again right away.

My biggest gripe with the game are the graphics.
No, the sprites look fine.
It’s the freakin’ white(!!!) sand.
What were they thinking? Is the sun in Egypt that hot? It looks like I’m wandering through snow and it really breaks the immersion.
Also, sparse use of sound effects, no music and no running animation for your character.
With that out of the way, the rest of the game is really good.
I like the story with its many riddles, the huge amount of actually useful items and the simple but satisfying combat.
And thanks to the randomness of it all I can really see myself coming back to this every so often.

Riddle of the Sphinx is lacking the care of other Imagic titles for whatever reason but is still a real blast to play through.
Play it!





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