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The Enduring Legacy of Ancient Egypt in Video Gaming

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Throughout the history of video gaming, developers have covered just about every theme imaginable; from popular titles based on blockbuster movies to downright weird games based on the most niche topics imaginable. Back in 1981, who could have predicted that an ape (Donkey Kong) throwing barrels at a plumber (Mario) on a construction site would spawn multiple video game series that would still be going strong more than 40 years later?

The early days

One recurring theme over the years has been Ancient Egypt. The mysteries of the pyramids and Egyptian mythology have proved to be irresistible topics for developers. Way back in 1982, Egypt first became the theme for home video games following the release of Valley of the Kings, an adventure maze game set in the passages of an Ancient Egyptian edifice.

A little later, the Atari console game Pharaoh’s Curse continued the trend in 1983, while Entombed was a big hit on the Commodore 64 computer, as reviewed on theguardian.com, in 1985. The game was set inside the tomb of the Great Sphinx, with the objective to escape before the oxygen runs out.

A few years later in 1988, Total Eclipse (more details) was released on multiple home platforms and is considered a pioneer of the first-person shooter. The player takes the role of an architect who must destroy a shrine to the Sun God, Ra before an ancient curse causes the moon to explode. As with many future Egyptian-based video games, the Indiana Jones movies were a clear influence on Total Eclipse. Since then, game developers have released more than 40 games featuring Ancient Egyptian themes. These include titles from well-known series such as Assassin’s Creed, The Scorpion King, and Tomb Raider. 

Egypt slot phenomenon

It’s not just home video games that have been inspired by Ancient Egypt. There have been a bewildering number of casino slot games based on the theme. Popular titles include ISIS, Cleopatra, Eye of Horus, Book of Ra, and Dawn of Egypt.

One of the most popular right now is Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead, which adopts a user-friendly Indiana Jones vibe. It is a high-quality game with a concept that has appealed to a huge number of players. You can find a list of the top online casinos – including the relatively new Wildz casino – that feature the Book of Dead posted on Bonus.ca’s website. Owing to mainstream success, the game has also spawned a couple of sequels and a new series featuring Rich’s daughter Cat, beginning with Cat Wilde and the Pyramids of the Dead, which can be found at Lucky Days casino.

The legacy continues

Ancient Egypt looks set to continue as a popular them for casino slot games with several titles released in the last year alone. However, the trend for ancient Egypt-themed video console games has slowed a little. Assassin’s Creed Origins was the last big-name Egyptian game to hit computer screens. It was launched on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Stadia to acclaim on gamesradar.com in 2017. It took four years to make and involved professional Egyptologists and historians in the development process to ensure accuracy. It marked a pinnacle for this theme in the home video market and will take some beating.

The next exciting release in the niche is Pharaoh: A New Era, due sometime in 2022. The game is a remastered version of the classic Egyptian city builder game and already had tongues wagging. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype.

Last Updated: August 26, 2022

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