We're starting to see more and more of the biggest franchises in casual gaming make the transition to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and MumboJumbo's massively popular Luxor series is the latest of the bunch. Luckily, little (if anything) was lost in translation, as the App Store iteration of Luxor plays extremely well on Apple's portable hardware, and the inclusion of 88 stages and support for the Plus+ network give the game serious legs.
The core Luxor formula hasn't changed for its iPhone debut, and fans of similar iPhone application StoneLoops! of Jurassica
should be able to make a quick transition. As in previous iterations, your goal in Luxor is to prevent streams of colored balls from reaching your pyramid base. To do so, you must fire balls from a golden scarab launcher at the bottom of the screen in an effort to match three or more of a like color, which removes those balls from the screen.
Though the balls follow an easily discernable pathway, later stages ratchet up the difficulty by increasing the number of balls (and available colors), leaving less space between the stage entrance and your pyramid, or adding winding paths or obstructions (such as tunnels). As you clear balls from the screen, you'll also see coins, gems, and power-ups fall towards your scarab. Collecting 30 coins will earn you an extra life, while gems earn you additional points towards your total. The power-ups, on the other hand, help you in various ways, whether it's temporarily stopping or reversing the flow of balls on the pathway or giving you a special type of one-use ball or shot.
Luxor is played with the iPhone/iPod Touch held sideways, and includes a pair of touch screen-based control schemes and a less-than-optimal tilt-based option. In each of the touch-based options, you'll move your finger along the screen to control the scarab; the key difference is that one scheme makes you then tap your finger to launch the ball, while the other simply lets you lift your finger to perform the same action. It'll probably come down to preference for most players (I like the tap-free option), but either way, you'll get the pinpoint control of moving the scarab's pointer to where you'd like the ball to land.
The third option, on the other hand, simply has you tilt the hardware from left to right to control the scarab and tap to shoot. While not a bad choice, per se, an unintended movement while firing could be the difference between removing a large number of balls from the screen or being forced to fire off a few more, so I'd recommend sticking with one of the touch-based schemes.
I did notice one nagging glitch with the touch screen controls, though: sometimes after receiving a pop-up notification (whether Push or battery life), I'd lose the ability to move the scarab, forcing me to restart the application. Luckily, the game automatically saves your progress when you quit, so you shouldn't lose any progress if you encounter the same bug. Hopefully MumboJumbo can address it in the next update.
Luxor also offers a great opportunity to get to know ngmoco's Plus+ social play interface, which lets you choose a single username and avatar that carries over across all supported games (including hits like Rolando 2 and WordFu [http://www.gamezebo.com/features/iphone/iphone-word-fu]), and lets you add friends, view leaderboards, and earn in-game Awards for completing certain objectives. Also included are Facebook and Twitter connectivity options, which allow you to brag about your progress after each completed level.
Speaking of bragging rights: MumboJumbo has earned some for delivering a great rendition of its marble-matching hit, which marries the tried-and-true puzzle approach with great visuals and sharp touch-screen controls.
- Great match-three gameplay. Sharp interface and touch screen controls. Large number of stages. Plus+ social network support.
- Tilt control option isn't optimal for this type of game. Notifications sometimes cause glitch that disables touch movements.