Life as an Egyptian princess can be tough. Oh, sure, there's the constant pampering, untold riches, dominion over millions of subjects and, you know, a life of absolute luxury. But as some old guy (we forget who) once said, with great power comes great responsibility. Spider-Man's uncle. That was it.
Take poor old Princess Anumari, for instance. No sooner has her dad snuffed it than civil war kicks off over the rightful heir, instigated by High Priest Tetriti and his refusal to accept your rightful rulership. The cad. What's a girl to do? Set off on a mission to single handedly take on Tetriti and his army of goons, that's what.
Anumari is no shrinking violet, of course. In amongst her posture and etiquette lessons the blue-blooded brat evidently learned how to knife fight. As you progress through this fairly bog-standard scrolling beat-'em-up you'll encounter a constant parade of burly swordsmen and brawlers. A quick stab of the '5' key and Anumari will execute a stab of her own. Repeat until each bad guy departs to the Egyptian afterlife.
There's more to the combat system, but not much more. Pressing '3' will execute a split kick which, whilst looking nifty, doesn't appear to hold any particular benefit over the standard attack. Holding '1' will have Anumari block attacks, though you still appear to sustain damage, so it too appears somewhat redundant. Of rather more use is the limited-use special attack, mapped to '0', which damages all onscreen enemies at once.
As you may have guessed from our less than enthusiastic tone, the action in Sand Storm is far from accomplished. Indeed, it rarely even approaches competence as you button-mash your way through each batch of mindless thugs. There's a complete lack of variation or tactical thought to the combat, with any challenge coming from the limitations in control and their lack of responsiveness. Eventually you will be outnumbered and sustain an unavoidable kicking.
Such bottlenecks become emphasised by the limited range of movement you're allowed. This amounts to a curiously restrictive couple of paces north and south between foreground and background – a curious disconnect from the space visually available, and a further limit on the tactical options available to you.
Technically Sand Storm fares little better. The animation of each character is rudimentary to say the least, with ungainly jerks passing for transitions between moves. It's a shame, because the art style is actually quite accomplished, with crumbling ruins and sun-baked sands nicely modelled. But when this is employed at the expense of the gameplay – such as when the foreground detail obscures much of the action – our mood tends to turn to the unforgiving.
And that about sums the experience up. Like making your way through the titular freak weather event, Sand Storm is laboured, a nightmare on the eyes and really not much fun. We suggest that you walk like an Egyptian in the opposite direction.