The Pharoah's Tomb Review | Personal Computer News - Everygamegoing

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The Pharoah's Tomb
By Phipps Associates
Spectrum 48K

Published in Personal Computer News #028

Riddle Of The Sands

The only introduction needed for Pharoah's Tomb is to say that it is an adventure combining graphics and text, set in the rooms and caves of the tomb of one of the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt. These must have been pretty restless corpses as the tomb comprises 62 rooms - including a rest room - and I'll leave you to wonder what ancient treasure you may or may not find there.


The opening screen tells you: "I am standing at an oasis in the Egyptian desert, close to a place where rumours suggest that an ancient burial place exists. To win, I must gather all the golden treasures that I may find and place them by the oasis."

For each of the treasures you gather you collect points, the points increasing if you take the treasures out of the tomb and to the oasis. Your goal is the maximum tally of 1,520, and you can find out how well you're doing at any moment by simply typing SCORE. There is one other tiny objective as well, I suppose, in that like most adventure games your chances of winning are increased considerably if you manage to stay alive, though if you're going to die somewhere it might as well be in a luxurious tomb such as this.

First Impressions

The Pharoah's Tomb

The cassette inlay is a professional job, and for once it is fairly restrained, avoiding those garish drawings and wild claims made by some companies who say "This game will scare you half to death" and suchlike nonsense. The inlay contains the loading instructions, the tape offers two copies of the program and the program incorporates the simple playing instructions. Phipps Associates also offers to send you the solution if you're screamingly desperate. What more could you ask?

In Play

You begin at the oasis, with a path to the north, steep steps going up a mountain, and a book of matches lying at your feet. As on all screens, a helpful compass appears in the top right corner pointing north.

The directions you can input are the simple N, S, W and E, with the addition of Up and Down. The program recognises about 70 words in all, including the usual Get, Drop, Use, Look, List, Help and Quit. You shouldn't need the Quit option just yet, unless you can't decide whether to go north or climb the mountain, but if you use it later you will be offered the chance to save the game to tape, and this does seem to be one of those games where the various objects stay where they are: put the matches down in one place and they'll still be there if you go back for them later.

The Pharoah's Tomb

The graphics occupt the top half of the screen, and are colourful and good without exactly being breathtaking, while the text scrolls up the bottom half. "What do I do now?" your guide will prompt you, and the machine code word scanning ensures that he responds to your orders very quickly, even if it's only to say "I can't do that now" or "I don't understand".

It isn't giving too much away to say that if you head north you arrive at the entrance to the tomb, where a large rock blocks the way in. An example of the game's occasional humour is uncovered if you request "Move rock". The answer comes back: "Are you sure you want me to risk having a hernia?" Being a harsh taskmaster, of course I replied, "Yes" to be greeted by a series of grunts while my guide made very heavy weather of moving the rock.

The first room is the Fire Room, at which point the matches promptly ignote, assuming you've brough them with you. As these will obviously be of some use later on, my first aim was to solve that problem, which was no mean feat as it involves a combination of two items and a thorough exploration of about a dozen rooms.

The Pharoah's Tomb

Other places you'll encounter include the Burial Chamber, Music Room, Death Row and the Windy Tunnel, which appears to be the only place where chance enters into the adventure. Apart from the teasures you'll find potentially useful items such as lamps, magic cloaks, fans and magic rings, and you can carry up to six items at one time.

The responses were more or less instant, and the only annoying delays occurred when I wanted to rush back to a particular room to try something out and had to wait while each of the rooms I passed through was drawn on the screen. Even though this only takes a few seconds, and there's probably no way round it, it does seem like ages.

The game itself was well worked out, and there were no simple answers to anything. Most hurdles to be overcome involved using at least a couple of items, perhaps carrying one thing while wearing something else, but afterwards all these answers seemed very logical... once you'd worked them out, of course. One area of the tomb has to be explored in a limited number of moves, before a door closes and locks you inside forever, while the almost impenetrable maze lived up to its name.


Although I only unearthed one item of treasure in several hours of playing, I wasn't inclined to give up as each time I seemed to get just that bit further, tempted on. The game iself is like the graphics: good without being great. It's certainly not The Hobbit, but at less than a fiver it's definitely value for money.

Mike Gerrard

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