Ubi Soft's take on The Mummy is based upon the animated series that appears on the WB! Kids network. You play as the three members of the O'Connell family, each with unique abilities and advantages. The goal is to explore ancient tombs located all over the world in search of pages from the Book of the Dead and in so doing prevent the evil Imhotep from conquering the world with an army of undead monsters. While the game does exhibit some of the telltale signs of a third-party license thrown together on the cheap, the overall design is diverse enough to appeal to a wide range of players and clever enough to avoid many of the pitfalls that often befall similar games.
The Mummy plays like a cross between Tomb Raider, which emphasizes exploration and puzzle solving, and Capcom's Final Fight, which emphasizes punching the daylights out of everything that moves.
On the exploration side of the coin, all of the levels in the game are set up as a series of tombs gathered together at four primary locations. Inside the tombs, you have to pull levers, collect keys, avoid traps, and open treasure chests in order to collect relics that will let you into the other tombs and ultimately lead you to another page from the book. As the game goes on, the puzzles become more complex, and you'll find yourself backtracking to an earlier tomb in order to unlock previously inaccessible areas. Each member of the O'Connell family has a different set of skills that are useful depending on the situation. Rick is strong, which means that he can pull levers and push iron balls onto switches. His wife, Evy, is extraordinarily lithe, so she can somersault over trapdoors and throw sticks at levers that are too far to reach. She's also the only person who can read the hieroglyphics inside of the tombs. The last member of the family is Alex, Rick and Evy's 10-year-old son. He can pick locks and open treasure chests that his parents cannot. You can swap out one character for another at any time by pressing the right shoulder button.
Invariably, the tombs are populated with ghosts, scorpions, and skeleton warriors loyal to Imhotep. Fighting them does wonders to offset the otherwise routine nature of lever pulling and key gathering. Combat is fun, primarily due to the arcade-style controls. When an enemy draws near, a targeting circle automatically appears around it. Each time you press the attack button, you'll perform kicks and punches that lead into an eye-catching combination. The game rewards the use of combination attacks with additional gold and health items, as well as with positive reinforcement through the appearance of visible textual indicators. In combat too, the characters have specific skills. Rick moves slowly, but his punches are the strongest. He can also store energy into a punch that dispatches most monsters in one hit. Evy isn't as strong as Rick, but she moves faster and can throw her fighting sticks from a distance. Alex is the weakest and the fastest of the trio, and he has a set of four different magic attacks that he can use against entire groups of enemies. The number of options you have while fighting is nice. At the same time, there are enough health items and regeneration areas that you don't need to worry about dying just as long as you make an effort to recover once in a while. That may make the game less difficult, but it gives you plenty of room to experiment and to generally have a good time.
You won't be intrigued by the graphics or audio, but they do take advantage of the various capabilities of the GBA hardware. The viewpoint is from a top-down perspective, tilted just enough to give depth to the temples and platforms within the environment. The characters animate with a lifelike smoothness, although they don't actually do much more than walk, attack, and defend. The GBA's scaling and rotation abilities are used to spruce up torchlight, explosions, and the fireballs created by Alex's magical attacks. As for the soundtrack, the music is vaguely Egyptian and intercut with eerie sound clips of squealing bats and moaning ghouls. The sound effects themselves are crisp and identifiable, even if they repeat with some regularity. Good examples include the different screams from the characters and the constant tap of successive punches and kicks.
The only real problem areas concern the game's overall substance--all of those little details that make each subsequent level seem fresh even when you're performing the same basic tasks over and over again. For one, The Mummy is a brief game. While the various archaeological sites grow larger and more integrated the further you go, there are still just 20 assorted levels. You can revisit previously completed sites if you like, but there is really no significant incentive to keep playing after you've invested the six to eight hours necessary to finish the game. Secondly, the variety of enemies and items contained within each tomb is weak compared to the ever-changing complexity reflected in the mazes and puzzles also therein. It's satisfying to find the switches, keys, and items necessary to unlock a new door. It's not as satisfying when the keys are always green scarabs or when the enemies are always purple scorpions, yellow skeletons, and gray ghosts. There are two or three unique bosses you'll encounter here and there, but the game needs more of them. These kinds of concerns are typical of most third-party licensed games, so it's no surprise that The Mummy exhibits a few of them. To the game's credit, you'll remember it more for its unique blend of exploration and fighting than you will for the absence of a few bosses or relics.
If you're a fan of the cartoon or are buying the game for someone who is, The Mummy more than lives up to expectations.