The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris Review

Game players are naturally wary of movie-licensed video games, but The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris doesn't need The Rock to be interesting.

The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris is a video game based loosely on the Universal Pictures film. WWF Superstar The Rock reprises his role as Mathayus, the desert ruler who is better known by his job title: the Scorpion King. After the events of the movie, the evil Menthu has formed an army with the intent of conquering Egypt. To accomplish his goals, Menthu has kidnapped Queen Cassandra, who just happens to be Mathayus' wife.

Needless to say, the Scorpion King isn't happy with this chain of events, and he sets off in search of the legendary sword of Osiris to stop Menthu once and for all. What follows is a video game that is eight levels of side-scrolling action--and surprisingly, it is very good!

The game begins with you in control of Cassandra, but the focus quickly shifts to that of Mathayus. As Mathayus, you can perform a wide variety of actions, including running, jumping, rope climbing, and hand-over-hand dangling from the ceiling. There's also a rather nifty wall jump that is reminiscent of the one Samus uses in Nintendo's Super Metroid.

Mathayus carries two types of weapons--a sword and a set of Egyptian scimitars--each with its own pros and cons. The sword is the stronger of the two and has the greatest range and strength, but it isn't very useful against floating or jumping enemies who attack diagonally. The scimitars, on the other hand, are speedy and make fast work of aerial dangers, but their range is terrible. In addition to their normal attacks, both weapons have lunge attacks that charge with a continuous holding of the B button. During the quest, you'll also collect gems for Mathayus' hero's gauntlet, which adds fireball and shield capabilities to his other attacks.

What makes The Scorpion King such a nice game is that it doesn't incorporate these gameplay actions in just a random manner. Levels offer multiple incentives for mastering all of Mathayus' abilities. Some areas require a great deal of ceiling and rope climbing, while dangers such as falling spikes and rising water sprinkle a little challenge into the mix--not to mention borrow from Konami's Castlevania series. Shortcuts and secret areas are all over the place, usually accessed with a well-placed wall jump or sword pounce. Although there is a significant amount of platform jumping and fighting, these elements are used less to waste time and used more to make it difficult to access key areas. As such, the usual cookie-cutter feeling you get with the typical action game isn't a problem here. Boss battles aren't as interesting or clever as the levels leading up to them, but this is a minor tarnish on an otherwise solid design.

Although the overall presentation isn't executed with as much distinction as the gameplay itself, The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris makes good use of the GBA's graphic and sound capabilities. Levels are colorful and full of rich contrast, while gimmicks such as parallax scrolling and wind distortion are apt to remind you of the heyday of the Super Nintendo. The game's music is particularly haunting, which further distances it from the sea of cookie-cutter video games that pass as movie licenses these days.

The lack of a battery-save feature in favor of password saving is the only major complaint that this game has in common with its lesser movie-inspired cousins. Still, while the typical movie-to-game experience lasts barely a few hours, The Scorpion King offers a major bonus to those who manage to defeat Menthu: You can replay the entire game with Cassandra. This basically creates an entirely new game, as Cassandra's abilities are more limited than that of her husband.

Game players are naturally wary of movie-licensed video games, but The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris doesn't need The Rock to be interesting. It is both highly playable and cleverly designed. You probably won't play it for more than a week or two, but you'll have fun the entire time.

The Good

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The Bad

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