I don’t understand what it is about this game that captured my imagination so much. Is it the rich vein of riffing material that Mummies in of themselves provide? Is it that giant Brendan Fraser head on the HUD to indicate how many lives I have left? Is it just the idea of playing a game based on a kick-ass action movie I’ve always had a soft spot for? I don’t think it’s the game itself, but I guess we’ll see.
A large part of the fondness/obsession I have with movie games is the promise that I, the lowly viewer, can participate in the world of a movie I enjoy…or even better, take on the role of the hero and dance around in their clothes, battling the forces of evil. It’s like double escapism, and the handshake between these two types of media seems fairly obvious. But there’s another layer of it: a fascination with seeing how each iteration of technology imitates actors and life in general, an incredible parallel universe where things are ever-so-slightly different than I previously understood them to be. Whenever a movie gets turned into a game, with a few standout exceptions, they use the overall plot or flow of the film and fill in the gaps to create a narrative/world large enough to play in. What might be a 1 minute scene in the film can turn into an entire portion of a campaign in the game. Two lines of throwaway dialogue between characters is explored through a fleshed out side mission. It’s like a side dish to the main course (although sometimes, admittedly, the game of the movie is better than the movie itself).
Which brings me to The Mummy. Oh, The Mummy. I didn’t even know that there was a game released for The Mummy (with good reason, the game came out a year after the movie, and right under the sequel “The Mummy Returns” and its own tie-in game) until a bit of digging through PlayStation game lists looking for titles with recognizable movie IPs. The movie itself? A fun action movie with a balance of humor, solid CG, and an adventurous spirit. The game…well, it has a solid presentation?
To be perfectly clear, I obviously don’t hate The Mummy. It can, at times, be an insufferable prick when it comes to enemy placement, the fussiness of combat, finicky controls, jumping puzzles, and more than a few time-based sections that annoy more than excite. But there’s some quality to it that just kept me coming back. Maybe it’s solely my core enjoyment of the movie itself, and the game floats by as an extension of that? Was it how meme worthy it is (the mileage I got out of Mummy puns alone was sickening). Perhaps a blend of the two, mixed with a sense of “This game isn’t going to best me!”? Like Rick O’Connell (the main character’s name, although I prefer to just call him Brendan Fraser), perhaps my thrill is in busting into old, dusty games that nobody ever talks about and looting the contents…for “archaeological” purposes. Makes sense to me, I’m a huge fan of exploration in games, probably linked to my Metroid/Symphony of the Night days. Knowing the unknown is a rush, and seeing games off the beaten path gives me tons of insight about the history and evolution of games as a whole. I’m kinda into that stuff, dontcha know.
It’s entirely possible that all of the previously mentioned conditions just tick the right boxes for me..the game is definitely more entertaining than the sum of its parts. In a world where I can’t even be bothered to play some games I’ve bought at launch at full retail price I kept at it until I had squeezed the last bits of blood from the carcass, cursing mummies and flipping off ghosts, until I finally put a sword through Big M. That in of itself is a huge accomplishment. Hell, I’ve decided to go full steam ahead and power through the next 3 games that would round out this “series” (all of them are made by different developers) so I guess I’m invested at this point. In summary: I love this dumb jerk game. But…