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Seems like a lifetime

Day of the pharaoh logo

T Day of the pharoah IMES change very quickly. Less than a year ago, if we had seen a game with digitised graphics and sound, we would have thought it darn hip. Now it seems that a game without digitised effects is out of the ordinary. By this argument, Day of the Pharoah is pretty mundane.
Basically, all is not well in Ancient Egypt, whose inhabitants could never fathom how ehty had earned the “Ancient” title. The old Pharaoh died many years ago, but all his heirs suddenly vanished, to be replaced by real bad ‘uns faithful to Seth, the god of the desert who, incidentally, is no relation to Gateau, the god of the dessert.

You are but a young fellah – Egyptian for peasant, believe it or not – who, unbeknown to everyone, including yourself, is actually the son of the old king and rightful to the throne.
Amon-Re, sun god and sworn enemy of the evil Seth, grants you a ship and a fairly large sum of money in order that you should regain the throne that is rightfully yours. You can only do this by trading and general rat-racing. As luck would have it, Egypt is not a particularly stable place – there is nearly always good money for the right goods in the right place. Yup, it is like trading in Elite, except more complex and not so much fun. Also, Elite has not got the rather unconvincing digitised graphics and really, really irksome tunes that Pharaoh has. But there you go.

As you navigate your way around the waterways always look the same. It is a case of Dodge the Rocks in the most mediocre fashion. Sometimes, if you are really lucky, your ship is set upon by Phoenician pirates, which you must beat off with a paddle. This bit is like some deranged Game & Watch because there is virtually no animation and the digitised Eeks! and Wahs! Of the pirates are hilarious.
Once in port you can gamble at the camel races. Rather than being a competition to see who can smoke an acrid ciggy the quickest, this is a standard Daley Thompson type effort. It is also deathly dull.
For a bit more excitement, you can declare war on the peasants, who are revolting in both senses. For a little more rapid social advancement you could always take yourself a wife from the gentry, but do not expect the dowry to be small. In this department your otherwise shrewd and cripplingly expensive business advisors are not of any use.

This is a complex game, one that will take a long time to get very far. Unfortunately, the initial stages are so stunningly ennui inducing that it would be a truly Herculean (sorry – don’t know any Egyptian heroes) task, maybe even requiring the patience of Job as well, to get anywhere useful.
Even though there was a valiant struggle, this reviewer succumbed to the background boredom. Maybe if you were a chronic insomniac who enjoyed a long term challenge, did not mind rather badly edited digitised sound and graphics with a dash of ropey translation to boot, and who also had two drives to make the gameplay less awful, you might be able to put up with this game.
But as I am not, and I do not think you are either, wild horses could not get me to recommend it to you, to end rather neatly on a badly mixed metaphor.

Stewart C. Russell

Amiga Computing, December 1989, p.p.24-25

Day of the Pharoah
Rainbow Arts
Sound 1 out of 15
Graphics 8 out of 15
Gameplay 4 out of 15
Value 1 out of 15
Overall - 23%

Day of the pharaoh logo

Rainbow Arts
Price: £24.99

N Day of the pharaoh o, you do not have to play the part of a mummy. Actually, you are a high ranking Pharaoh. The game is set sometime between 2300bc and 250bc and it is the governor’s task to rule his province and win favour in the eyes of the gods.
DOTP starts with a suitably digitised Egyptian still, sampled music and a choice of Pharaoh. Before you enter the eye of Horus, your Pharaoh needs a province to rule over. Choose from a variety of locations whose names sound like diseases you would not tell the vicar you had. Select your ship and you are on the way to true Pharaohdom.

On the main action screen you get a number of different options. The top section of the screen concentrates on trade and equipment building. Increase your fleet of ships, or your number of war chariots. Go boating up the Nile, check your supplies and trade. All of this is essential.

By using the options on the lower half of the screen you can have fun playing the tyrant. First off you have the war command. You can send one of your horse drawn war chariots to brutalise a neighbouring tribe. This takes place in an arcade sequence with you controlling the speed of the chariot and the archer. Pressing the fire button releases an arrow which, hopefully, should leave a nasty hole in someone’s head. While they are firing, you have to speed up or slow down to avoid the enemies’ shots. A direct hit results in your chariot driver being hurled to the ground with what looks like a rather nasty chest wound. On the other hand if you survive to the end of the section you become top dog over that tribe – until trouble starts up again.

Choose a god which appeals to you. In my case it was Hather, God of Music and Happiness. You can build a temple to a god, or sacrifice the odd peasant or two. If you think it is necessary you can also build a temple for yourself (with the aid of a few thousand slaves).

As the game progresses your prestige increases as does your power and influence over your people and neighbouring tribesmen. Boost your powers until, finally, you are accepted by the gods themselves. A tall order indeed.

DOTP is one of those games that requires at least several hours per sitting. It is deep, absorbing and fun to play. The graphics are excellent, the sound is sparse but what is there is sampled and adds nicely to the atmosphere. A good game in the increasingly popular field of interactive strategy. A must for fans of this style of game.
Mark Patterson

CU Amiga, November 1989, p.41