Nothing stifles innovation like success. Perhaps MumboJumbo hewed to the mantra, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as they prepared the release of LUXOR: Amun Rising, the ostensible sequel to LUXOR. After all LUXOR was a great game. It took an excellent and smooth color matching mechanic and stretched fun over 80 some levels. Since its release last year it has remained one of the most popular casual games. With their follow-up, LUXOR: Amun Rising, MumboJumbo has delivered another batch of wonderful levels, but not much more.
The original gameplay of LUXOR remains intact. Players again find themselves in ancient Egypt firing colored balls into advancing strings of marbles to create sets of three. Creating a set destroys the balls and releases bonuses which you can catch. Meanwhile an industrious little scarab pushes the balls along a winding track toward the temple that you must protect. Let even one ball enter the temple and you lose. But if you can get rid of all the balls in the chain you destroy that nefarious little scarab. Fortunately, you have your trusty “magical winged scarab” which you slide along the bottom of the screen to aim and shoot with.
The real beauty of LUXOR lies in the simplicity and clarity of the core mechanic. The instant the first level begins and you see the scarab floating along the bottom following your mouse, the gameplay becomes crystal clear. This clarity allows the game to quickly advance and offer fun and interesting challenges even in the first several levels. And while you may find you have mastered the basic gameplay after only a few seconds, figuring out the best strategy for creating chains takes much longer. As you makes sets and the balls roll backwards into the other balls producing more sets, chains of scores rack up releasing bigger bonuses. The real fun of the game quickly evolves into figuring out how to set up the biggest chains possible before the balls reach the temple and tick off a life.
LUXOR is quite similar in play to another casual game, Zuma, in which you fire balls from a rotating frog’s mouth into strings of advancing balls. However, the simple difference of positioning makes the games feel pleasantly different. Zuma puts you inside the chains allowing you to fire in all directions; LUXOR removes you from the action and forces you to find ways into the milieu.
When you download the game you are told that LUXOR: Amun Rising pits you against the “rebellious Princes of Megiddo” as opposed to the evil Set faced in LUXOR. Thankfully, both games eschew any real story. Once in the game, you lose all sense of princes and pharaohs and concentrate on exploding ever-larger chains.
The designers have added some new power-ups. Favorites from the original, such as speed-shot and wild are joined by new Scorpion power-ups. Catch a Scorpion and the little critter races out along the track clearing significant swaths of balls as he goes.
Aside from the Scorpion power-ups, LUXOR: Amun Rising offers no real new twists on the original LUXOR. This makes LUXOR: Anum Rising feel more like an expansion of the original than a full-blown sequel. You don’t get any significant changes to the game, but you do get exciting new levels.
If you have never played LUXOR, then you’ll likely love LUXOR: Anum Rising. It’s a great game with excellent graphics and solid gameplay. If you have played the original LUXOR, however, you are likely to fall within one of two camps. Many fans of the original will simply appreciate 88 new levels of foiling those pesky scarabs–best leave a good thing alone. Others, excited by the prospect of a sequel to a great game by a creative developer, may find themselves a bit disappointed.