Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge Review
Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge box art
System: DS, PSP, Wii, PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: MacPlay 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: MumboJumbo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 18, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
If it's Based on Ancient Civilizations, it's Good

by Maria Montoro

Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge is the new installment of this quite popular puzzle series once born to be played on PC. This specific title has been released for both handheld systems - the DS and the PSP, and will soon find its way to the silver screen through the PS2 and the Wii. Even though each of them will make use of their particular control systems, the game will be pretty much the same, which means you should make a good choice about which version you should buy.

Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot

If you're familiar (or more than familiar -addicted!) to games like Zuma and Magnetica, you know what you're coming for. The colored ball-shooting game moved out the ancient Aztec civilizations (Zuma) and into the old Egyptian world (Luxor). Even though they're not exactly the same game, they have a lot to do with each other and should be considered at least "cousin" games.

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In this game you'll be controlling a golden, winged scarab that holds a colored ball. It moves horizontally, as the pad does in Arkanoid. Right above it you'll see a trail of colored balls that are being pushed by a little dung beetle. If the balls happen to reach the pyramid the game will be over; the goal is to shoot the balls and match groups of three or more of the same color in order to pop them and avoid the destruction of the pyramids. The beetle moves at different speeds, depending on the power ups you're able to collect while you play. They fly out of the beetle when you match the balls or when you do multiple combos. The other power ups let you do things like throw fireballs that burn some spheres, lightening that strikes everything it finds in its vertical path, daggers, and clouds that tint the balls in a specific color. Others let you switch direction or even stop it all so nothing moves except the golden scarab you're handling, etc. You can also collect Ankh coins that give you extra lives when you have 30 of them and treasures that score bonus points. As you advance through the levels, there are more and more "ball trails" being pushed by the dung beetles, and eventually it becomes almost overwhelming. Good reflexes and precision are key in this game.

Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot

One thing that also makes Luxor interesting is the option to switch the color of the ball you're going to shoot. If you tap below the shooter with the stylus, you'll be given another color choice that might be more suitable for the current state of the game board. The shoulder buttons will do the same. In fact, you're allowed to use the stylus or the buttons at any time to control the game. I'd say the stylus gameplay makes the game more fluid and agile, but the buttons might offer a bit more accuracy in the gameplay. You shoot balls by tapping them out of the shooter. Unfortunately, sometimes you'll be shooting a ball and the ball color will accidentally be swapped by the next one, ruining the perfect move you had planned. I have to admit that bugged me a little bit, but if you take your time and play with patience and accuracy, you shouldn't have a problem with that. Also, at the end of each 4 to 6-level stage, there will be a bonus screen where you'll shoot the spheres and the dung beetle as if you were playing Space Invaders or something like that. By advancing to the next stage you'll attain a new rank that defines your experience as a Luxor player. There are also three modes of play, although they're almost the same. Adventure Mode is the main one, Practice Mode lets you practice and improve your Luxor skills, and in Survival Mode you'll play until you die! There's no multiplayer mode to play against friends, but that's alright. This is the kind of game I plan to play when I'm on the plane or while I'm waiting to go somewhere.

Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot

Screenshots / Images
Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot - click to enlarge Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot - click to enlarge Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot - click to enlarge Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge screenshot - click to enlarge

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