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Luxor (iPhone)

For: iPhone

Jewel of the Nile

Product: Luxor (iPhone) | Developer: MumboJumbo | Publisher: Plus+ publishing | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Luxor (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1
The ancient Egyptians were well known for walking strangely, building large geometric buildings, and pulling the brains of their dead out through their noses with large hooks prior to mummification.

Somehow, though, my history teacher neglected to tell me about their passion for marble-based match-three gameplay.

Still, ten of millions of web games after its first appearance Luxor finally comes to iPhone and iPod touch to show us that the touchscreen can be mightier than the mouse.

Simply put, this is the best marble-popper available on the App Store.

To some extent, that's because it's everything you'd hope Luxor on iPhone should be. The graphics are colourful, the audio's the same as the web game, and the control's pin sharp.

You move your winged marble holder - or shooter - by sliding your finger left and right anywhere on the screen, tapping to fire, and sliding your finger down to swap ball colour. Tilt and an alternative touch control scheme are provided, too.

As you'd expect, as the chains of colour marbles are unleashed and pushed around the various tracks you can see where your shot will end up thanks to the line emanating from your shooter.

The trick of the game, however, is to lead your shots. Because the balls are always moving, where your line is pointing now isn't necessarily where your marble will end up by the time your shot actually collides with the balls.

And it's handling this gap of time and distance that makes the game so compelling and addictive, because a couple of missed shots can destroy an entire stage, just as a couple of great ones can make a stage.

If you miss, though, that's your fault because the game's control and interface don't get in the way. The menu at the top of screen tells you how many waves you have to deal with in each stage, and the colour of the next ball you'll have to shoot.

What really makes this iPhone version special are the subtleties that allow you to make difficult shots and know that the end result is correct.

Sometimes, for example, you'll take a hasty shot you know in your gut isn't timed quite right. That shot won't end up in the place you want it to go. But take a similarly hasty shot you know is timed perfectly, and that ball will snuggle into place, making the match-three you need to get the stage back on track.

Combined with this rock-solid gameplay, Luxor's difficulty curve is also the right side of progressive.

There are 88 levels in total, but thanks to a system that gives you an extra life for every 30 falling Ankhs you catch with your shooter, it's fairly easy to burn through over half of these in a beautiful rush of gaming adrenalin.

Equally, the detail of the levels themselves don't really matter, so you're happy to play them over again, trying to fire fewer balls, make better combos and collect more falling gems to boost your score this time around.

Falling power-ups - created when you generate match-three combos, such as lighting bolt, slow, reverse and wild balls - are also worth catching as they can switch around a failing situation.

This all plays into the game's use of the Plus+ social networking system.

On the simplest level, this means you can hook up to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, hitting the 'boast' button when you finish each level to send out your score and level status.

As for Plus+, it's a bit early to give the definitive view. For some reason, I couldn't get my Luxor score to register on its high score leaderboard. Back on launch day, I would have been in the top five but such a claim to fame is now long gone. Gremlins in ngmoco's Plus+ technology don't reduce the sheer pleasure you'll gain playing Luxor.

So we may have been waiting an age for it to be re-discovered, but finally Luxor can be revealed as one of the wonders of the App Store.
Luxor (iPhone)
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 22 August 2009
Luxor on the iPhone is everything we hoped it would be and more. It's currently the best marble-popper on the App Store
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