Princess Thaya has been kidnapped (doh, give me a break!) by the evil Pharaoh and it's your job to save her. Seriously now, how about you save a puppy or a grandma for a change?! Anyway, your champ is a master stick fighter (kendo?!) and as per hackneyed tradition you must walk a few meters to arrive at Pharaoh's temple where he is planning to sacrifice the princess to gods by burying her alive and en route fight various humanoid creatures summoned by the Pharaoh to hamper you.
is not exactly a beat 'em up which typically involves some real platform action and more than one adversary at a time, but merely a side-scrolling 1x1 fighting with succession of bouts featuring a selection of ever-spawning opponents of varying appearance and stamina, where your primary job is not to eliminate all your foes but to break through alive. The game was published by Melbourne House, same title which released The Way of the Exploding Fist around the same year.
Graphics is evidently the superior aspect here, and in that sense this game resembles Mechner's Karateka. Both share a handful of similar elements, like your stamina bar with a set of triangular marks, enemies who are your multi-headed copies and the very unoriginal plot of course. In other words, this game is just as appealing on the outside but otherwise boring and dreary like Karateka, though with only two bits of a difference: this game is set in ancient Egypt and here you apply not your fists but a stick. Happy now?
You advance left-to-right, fight enemies which go at you one by one, evade occasionally coming arrows by either ducking or jumping and break magical vases which can be both beneficial and noxious. Some can increase your stamina, kill your enemies instantly or you for that matter, and for all I know it's impossible to tell them apart unless you memorize the sequence. Your character enjoys 7 different moves: advance, retreat, duck, jump and typical 3-level hits.
Like you, your enemies are all armed with sticks and use the same very techniques of attack and defense except the winged gargoyle-like demon who is unarmed and uses only one type of kick and block. Likewise, all but the gargoyle are absolute copies of you but having different mask-looking heads akin to helmets in Karateka. There is a timer activated on each encounter and if you don't succeed to kill an enemy within the given time limit you die. Sounds like a fair deal, right?
Critique thus. Catchy panorama, fairly decent sprites, fluid animation, but extremely weak and monotonous gameplay which completely rules out entertainment factor. While this game may surpass Karateka with slightly extended action range (avoiding arrows, breaking vases) it is hardly anywhere near the enjoyable mark. Fights are ludicruous and remind of dancing, no real skill is required and you simply participate in a continual exchange of hits until one falls. In other words, your victory depends mostly on stamina and you can always foresee the outcome.
So, what's the challenge here, anyway? Patience, my friends, and vehement desire to see the grand finale, which albeit satisfactory, isn't really worth your time. I played this game as a kid, but honestly, I don't remember being greatly excited about it. Even the very title suggests something rather cheap and bootlegy.... is there like a non-fighting one? Anyway, there isn't really much to say about this game today other than it's an obvious copycat with exotic setting not making up for the poor gameplay at all. Which calls for an anecdote:
- Hello, I would like to request a change of name, please.
- Alright, what is your name, sir?
- John Moron.
- ... and you want to change it to..?