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Friday, March 2, 2012

Luxor Evolved: Leave Earth Behind!

Ah, the Luxor series... It's MumboJumbo's answer to PopCap Games' popular Zuma series. Both games are about destroying trails of rolling balls by effectively matching 3 balls of the same color by shooting a ball straight into the moving formation. I used to own Luxor 2 on the X-Box 360 and thought that it was superior compared to Zuma on the same platform - I regretfully sold the compilation disc that it resided in with my back-up 360 a couple of years ago. Luxor 2 was special because it felt more like a shoot-'em-up: you control a ship at the bottom of the screen and it helped that the game offered plenty of crazy power-ups. When Luxor Evolved, the latest in the series, was released on Steam yesterday, I immediately inducted it into my Game Library. I could have easily gotten the past entries of the series because they are available on Steam but I just couldn't help myself with this release because when I watched the trailer, I had a feeling that the game would be very good... and it is!

The special 'shmup stages are reminiscent of the Galaga games.

So, the Luxor games have always had a story element to them but this one abandons all of that and transports itself deep into space. Maybe it senses that Egypt is about to become a theocratic nation, which is a very good reason to flee that place, just saying. So the game is really about getting the highest score possible as you are presented with progressively complex action stages. The goal is still the same - you must destroy the formations of colored "spheres" from reaching your "pyramid". They travel along trails that are visible on screen to help you plan out your move. You are given one colored sphere at a time to shoot at the formations. Destroying a formation will result in an explosion of fruits and things that you can collect to further boost your score. There are power-ups to assist you in your task and the more you progress in the game, the crazier these power-ups become. The game is faster now and if you look closely, it is easier to combo match this time around. The game sends out spherical formations in short bursts and getting rid of a certain part of each formation usually will result in them collapsing in their entirety. The fast-paced gameplay definitely makes the game feels more like an action game than it is a puzzle game and that makes Luxor Evolved a lot more fun.

Pretty colors that will make you weep! Such beauty comes from imagination, not technology!

But let's not kid ourselves here... The gameplay is just half of the reason why Luxor Evolved totally rocks. Look at its graphics! With silky smooth 60fps animation and a striking neon-infused, wire-frame retro art style, Luxor Evolved is successful in ensuring that it will remain beautiful forever! Its references to the classic games of old are fun to discover and appreciate. The loud, pumping space-age soundtracks that mix well with the action and reaction of the gameplay complete the entire experience. The mesmerizing visuals and the game's infinite replayability have resulted in the first must play title of the year 2012. MumboJumbo may claim themselves to be the "Premium Casual Games" developer and there is nothing wrong with that but with Luxor Evolved, they have finally made a real mark in the gaming universe.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 5 out of 5

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