Like so many others, I was first introduced to this whole ball-shooting puzzle genre with the original Zuma. It. Was. Awesome. Just to clear up any confusion around that point. I ate up Zuma like none other and, inevitably, beat everything there was to beat. After a short period of mournful withdrawal, I came upon the original Luxor. It was okay, but I was a little underwhelmed. It had cool graphics and some neat sounds, but the structure of the puzzles just didn’t tickle my fancy. Fast-forward several years, and I decide to see what’s happened in this little corner of the gamer world, and clicked into the totally engrossing world of Luxor 3.
Just like its predecessors, the goal in Luxor 3 is to shoot colored balls at moving lines of balls. Match up three or more of the same color, and it disappears. Bonus points if you can cause a chain reaction, and of course extra bonuses depending on the distance from the temple at the end when you destroy a line. The goal is to get rid of all the balls before they get to the end of the track and enter the pyramid or temple at the end.
Puzzle mode offers the same concept, except that the lines of balls don’t move. Instead, you have to shoot a finite number of colored balls into stationary lines in such a way that all the balls on the screen disappear.
Every time you hit three matches in a row, a power-up drops. If you catch the power-up, you can enjoy one of a number of benefits, including a net to catch all of your gems, coins and power-ups for a certain amount of time, a slow-down, a temporary stop, a lightning bolt to destroy every ball immediately above it, and more. Hit golden scarabs to get Ankh coins. Hit a full set of canopic jars – no more than one in each level – and advance to the bonus round at the end of that set of levels.
If you’re already a Zuma master like my oh-so-humble self, you won’t get much fun out of the easiest levels in Luxor 3. I started my game play on medium difficulty, and only had to go through several levels before it became enjoyably challenging. About a week later – something like 15 total hours of play time – I beat the medium level. Hard levels actually saw a lot of replays and real strategizing, which is what I really, really like in an action puzzle game like this.
As you play, you can purchase power-ups for – well, the power-ups. Each power-up can be improved 3-4 times, becoming incrementally more powerful with each Ankh coin purchase. For instance, a scorpion that consumed only 10 balls may be upgraded to consume, say, 30 (I didn’t note the exact numbers, so don’t quote me on that). Ankh coins also buy three additional ball sets, including glass, energy and wooden balls, as well as some cool extra shooting platforms. Sadly, these run out pretty fast if you play consistently, but they’re fun while they last.
Unlike the original Luxor (I can’t compare to Luxor 2, haven’t played it yet), Luxor 3 has all the dimensional graphic entertainment you’d expect in today’s modern games. That is, the graphics are high-quality, have amazing depth and make the Egyptian worlds look almost real.
The soundtrack can best be described as some sort of Return of the Mummy spinoff, with guttural temple music and instrumentals that easily tie back to Ancient Egypt. This background music starts slow and “mysterious” at the beginning of each puzzle, and then increases in volume, speed and intensity as the balls get closer to the door of your pyramid.
The balls roll and shoot with sounds that vary according to which ball set you’re using, and whether it hits a ball, a golden scarab or a canopic jar – electricity, wood, metal and glass all lend their unique sounds to the game.
Whether you’re a casual gamer or constantly looking for the next scintillating challenge, Luxor 3 is definitely a worthwhile choice. It’s reasonably priced for hours of gaming enjoyment. There’s such a nice skill level variety that it provides challenges for virtually any gamer. Even if you’ve never touched a previous Luxor game, it’s easy to jump right into Luxor 3 and thoroughly enjoy the entire thing.
In short, this is one of my favorite games ever, and I’d certainly buy it again if I had to in order to keep playing. As I mentioned, it took about a week to beat the game. Now, I still go back and play a bit every few months, and it never gets too easy or boring. Apparently, there are several other Luxors on the market now. After my experience with this game, I’ll definitely seek them out and see what else this totally addictive suite has to offer.