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Luxor HD

Score: 90%
ESRB: Not Yet Rated
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Developer: MumboJumbo
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Arcade/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Luxor has been around for many years in various forms. Personally, I still play Luxor 2 almost daily when I am chatting on the phone, simply because it is a fun, entertaining and challenging title, even if it is beginning to show it's age. While classic Luxor is still a blast, the developers have managed to not only introduce new levels, but also to put a level of polish and shine on it that makes it even more aesthetically appealing.

One thing I really enjoyed about Luxor 2 was all of the little touches included in the design of the game. Shadows of fish swimming in the water and glossy little gold flourishes throughout made it a pleasant experience. The music remains classic Luxor, which is fine. The soundtrack and effects are perfect the way they were and required no tweaking. Entrancing and intense Middle Eastern background music will play throughout each level and, as you progress through the level, the music will intensify. If you find that you are getting close to losing the level, the music will become downright rattling, almost as if the Egyptian gods are displeased at your lack of progress.

When you send a ball hurtling towards the ever-moving line of colored balls that you need to destroy to clear the levels, it lands with a satisfying "thunk." If it clears an area because you have matched three or more balls in a row, you get a nice crash, indicating success. If you send a ball to an area by mistake and it lands in between balls it does not match, a sound much like shattered pottery is your reward and you know you have missed your mark. If you happen to get the special Wild Ball power-up, you'll hear the sound of a screeching bird of prey and, if you manage to allow the line of balls to reach the pyramid and fail the level, you'll hear the distant sound of the god Set, laughing at your demise.

MumboJumbo pulled out the stops on the aesthetics for Luxor HD. While the feel of Luxor HD's levels are the same as previous versions, there are 25 new backgrounds for you to explore, all with very winding and clever designs. The new and improved look is quite polished and everything seems to include a lovely veneer of gleaming gold pulled straight from the pyramids. Levels are encrusted with gems and include some nice touches like animations on the main map. For instance, Set's area, the final area of the game, is now displayed on the main map as an area engulfed by burning rock, with the head of Set taunting you.


The concept of Luxor HD is simple. You have a winding level and a line of different colored balls that makes its way through the level at a constant speed, always pushing forward. You have to aim your ball at the line, hoping to land in between two balls of the same color as the one in your launcher, thus eliminating all three (or more) balls of the same color. You must do this rapidly to clear all of the balls in that line before they advance to the temple at the end of the maze-like level. Luxor HD has 88 levels for you to play and it's going to take you quite a while to get through them all, even if you are a Luxor diehard like me. It seemed that I got through the early levels very quickly, but as I progressed, it took longer and longer and more and more successions of balls to clear a level. The first handful of levels only seemed to have 3 or 4 successions of lines of colored balls to clear, but that doesn't last long. They soon begin adding more and more rows to complete.

There are also power-ups that will fall and if you catch them in your launcher, they'll assist you. Reverse will send the ball line back a ways and can be a lifesaver. The Slow or Stop power-up can also help if you are close to the end of your rope. Some are Color Bombs and they destroy all of the balls of the same color or some can even change a specific grouping of balls to the same color as the one on the power-up. The Wild Ball is a glowing power-up that you can place between two balls of different colors and destroy them, so it's very handy if you have two long strings of matched colors side by side and you can use it to take them all out. They seem to have gotten rid of the Net power-up which allowed you to "catch" every power-up without actually having to physically catch it in your launcher. I also don't recall playing any of the Bonus levels in between areas, which is fine because I didn't enjoy them nearly as much as the main levels.

You can choose to play in Adventure Mode, which will take you through each of the 88 levels and grow progressively harder with each level or you can play in Practice Mode, where you can pick a level at random to play, as long as you have previously beaten it. Survival Mode lets you choose your favorite level and play as long as you can survive, with a never-ending selection of colored balls heading towards the pyramid. The longer you last, the more difficult it gets because the number of different colored balls increases as they add new colors into the mix. There is another mode called Challenge of Horus, which I assume unlocks when you have completed Adventure Mode on Expert, but I haven't gotten there yet, so I can't tell you anything more than that.


There are three difficulty settings available when you start up Luxor HD: Easy, Normal and Hard. Easy is pretty darn easy and is for someone who is not looking for much of a challenge, but instead, just wants to mindlessly shoot marbles. Normal is the setting most people will enjoy, at least for their initial run-through. Normal presents a very healthy challenge, especially considering all of the levels offered in the game. It will take you a little while to beat the game, even on this setting. However, if you are bored with Normal and really want a run for your money, try the Hard setting. You get more variance in the colored balls, so it takes longer to make chains. The power-ups seem to come at the same rate, but one misplaced ball on Hard can spell the end for you, whereas on the lower difficulty settings, that's usually not the case. Again, I can assume the Expert difficulty level (Challenge of Horus) is unlocked upon completion of Adventure Mode, but since I'm not quite there yet, I can't verify that. Since Hard is pretty difficult, Expert can only be brutal and unforgiving. Do be aware that changing the difficulty setting resets your game, so choose wisely as you can't just jump in and try a different difficulty mode without messing up your current progress.

To assist you in your goal, the developers have added two different Aim Assists. Selecting Retical will provide you with a, well, reticle so you can aim a little more precisely. You can also choose Beam which will shoot a beam of color matching the ball you need to place. In Luxor 2, this was a power-up, but here it's merely a selection you can make. Each assist provides a little bit of extra help and can only be used separately, or you can choose to use no assist and things will be a little tougher. This way, you can tweak your experience to be exactly what you want.

Game Mechanics:

Luxor HD is a marble shooting game, so the premise is pretty simple. Using the mouse, you line up your colored ball with an area on a steadily advancing string of colored balls, and if your ball lands between two like-colored balls, the balls disappear with a flourish and you deplete the chain. Your goal is to destroy all of the balls in the chain and quickly, before the next chain begins advancing. Once you have completed the destruction of all of the advancing chains in a level, you move on to the next picturesque location to do the same. Luxor HD tries to motivate you along by starting you off with a very lowly title, but as you progress through levels, you will rise in rank. Commoner: Owner of Fields sure beats Plower of Fields any day. In previous Luxor titles, you simply had the title, not the specific social rank.

As you work your way through the levels, you might notice that occasionally, you'll receive a golden Ankh coin for breaking the balls. This happens when you break a larger chain and also, you are rewarded some coins and also gems at the end of a level if you did particularly well. When you have collected 30 Ankh coins, you receive 1 new life. So enjoy those easy levels as the beginning of the game and use that time to make the largest chains possible, so you can earn lots of coins and have a stash of lives. They will surely come in handy when the going gets tough. In addition to coins, sometimes gems will also drop when you break balls or complete levels. These merely add to your score and help boost you title. You will also receive badges for attaining certain goals, much like the Achievements that now proliferate all Xbox 360 games. They aren't much more than bragging rights, but they will also give you an idea of your progress in the game.

When I first started playing Luxor HD, I detected a little lag in the game, but it didn't really seem to hinder my gameplay. I'm not sure what was going on there, since my system easily meets the specs, but regardless, it didn't present much of a problem and was more of a momentary distraction. However, the most important improvement made to Luxor HD, at least in my opinion, is the change in location for the Menu button, which is now at the top right of the screen instead of the bottom right. It may seem like a small thing, but I would tend to shoot from the right side of the screen and consequently, I was always accidentally clicking the Menu button and pausing the game when I was trying to shoot a ball. This would tend to cost me precious seconds when I possibly had none to spare and was (and still is) a constant source of irritation when I play Luxor 2. For that reason, moving the Menu button is a huge improvement in the experience.

If you have enjoyed Luxor games in the past, do yourself a favor and check out Luxor HD. It's the same old, fantastic marble shooter concept, but with a gorgeous gloss of shimmery gold paint on it and some brand new levels. I really enjoyed the new levels and I must say that they were pretty tricky. Not frustratingly so, but a healthy level of challenge in some lovely new surroundings. Highly recommended for Luxor fans.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/Vista, CPU: 800 Mhz, RAM: 128 MB, DirectX: 9.0, Hard Drive: 41 MB

Test System:

Windows Vista, 2 GHz AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor, 8GB RAM, Realtek High Definition Audio On-Board Sound, NVIDIA GeForce 8300

Related Links:

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated