No, Luxor Pharoah’s Challenge has nothing to do with the Las Vegas hotel, it’s what has been termed as a “casual game” ported over to the Nintendo DS from the PC. Luxor Pharoah’s Challenge is a puzzle game where your goal is to clear multi-colored spheres by matching three or more of the same color before they enter your pyramid. It’s a fairly simple game, as is the style of most casual games, but that’s the main draw. Because it only takes a minute to learn you’re immediately able to pick it up and play it, which makes it perfect for non-gamers just looking to burn some time.
Visually there’s not much going on here, the multi-colored spheres are the center of attention, but the backgrounds with their Egyptian themes are very nice to look at. There are multiple themes and each one sends the spheres in a different direction, with some of them sending out two sets of spheres at once in opposite directions. The music and sound effects aren’t really any better, in fact the music is almost a non-factor here, despite it giving you the feeling of being the “Prince of Egypt” it’s so limited that it’s borderline ridiculous that a game these days could feature all of one song, casual or not.
Even the fact that they’ve really only included three modes (adventure, survival, and practice) is almost acceptable because the adventure mode is so long, but at the same time the game really just stays the same. The “boards” change and the direction of the spheres changes, but really the game stays the same throughout. Aside from adding different colored spheres as you get further into the game it’s still pretty easy and remains the same tried and true match three colors get a power up and eliminate more spheres, rinse, wash and repeat. That’s fine if this is the type of game you like. Quite honestly, I never really found it to present much of a challenge and for that the game was lacking. Even after clearing all 88 boards in adventure mode the game only got mildly harder and the power ups got so good that the game at times seemed easier than at the beginning.
Survival mode just lets you choose one board and you keep going for as long as you can trying to get the highest score possible. Again, it’s very simple and can keep you entertained for a while especially if you can make it a competition with someone else. Unfortunately, along those lines, there is no form of multiplayer in Luxor Pharoah’s Challenge. This could have easily made the game infinitely more replayable if developer, Mumbo Jumbo, would have found a way to work this in, especially multiplayer with a single DS cartridge. Luxor Pharoah’s Challenge does remain true to the original PC casual game, whether that’s helpful or hurts is another question.
Controls are fairly simple, you primarily use the stylus to drag around your shooter and fire off spheres. You slide it around to pick up power ups, coins, and jewels to help drive up your score. You can also use the directional pad to control your shooter and I found this method to be a bit easier. Your shooter can hold two spheres at once and you can switch between them by tapping your shooter or hitting the left shoulder button. Either way they’ve kept the controls quite simple for immediate “pick up and play” ability.
In the end, I didn’t find enough game here to satisfy my puzzle desires. I expect more modes from puzzle games to give more variety to the gamer. Simply sending the spheres in different directions and around obstacles isn’t enough if the rest of the game stays exactly the same. More modes, including multiplayer, could have almost assuredly saved this from being just a mediocre game ported from the PC. In the end in comparison to other stellar puzzle games on the Nintendo DS, Luxor Pharoah’s Challenge just doesn’t hold up. It’s a good way to kill some time while waiting for the bus, but extended playing time will generally lead you to boredom.
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