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Luxor: The Wrath of Set
Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: MumboJumbo
Developer: MumboJumbo
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Strategy/ Board Games

Graphics & Sound:
Nothing looks as much like redemption as seeing popular PC titles headed for the consoles or hand-held platforms. Don't get me wrong, I like to play games on my "computer" as much as the next guy. I just have a lot more options these days compared to when it was the Commodore-64 or nothin'... Luxor: The Wrath of Set is actually not a new game to fans of developer Mumbo Jumbo's growing library of casual gaming hits. Mostly a Windows game developer with some Mac-compatible titles for download or store purchase. Bejeweled you have heard of or played, and Luxor is the new Bejeweled. I responded to Bejeweled because it was one of the first casual games that didn't look like it was "casually developed." Slick graphics, nice visual effects and music... a good experience. Luxor strikes the same tone and The Wrath of Set brings to PSP what PC gamers have appreciated now for some time. The game boards are full of cool and sometimes funny graphics. The Egyptian themes are interesting if not hugely varied. Once a game board is introduced, you'll see the same theme again and again throughout the game. The game pieces are identical through the game with some new colors introduced gradually. The music doesn't vary as much as you might like, but it's very well done. The atmosphere matches the music nicely and I was impressed by the production quality of everything aural and visual here.

Luxor: The Wrath of Set is a game that only bears Egyptian design, lest you think that you'll be exploring pyramids, jumping scorpions or excavating mummies. The Wrath of Set is a casual game. The label is silly, but the intention is to create a game that anyone can pick up quickly and one that draws in people other than the core gaming audience. The entire movement behind casual gaming seems to have been incredibly successful. Games like The Wrath of Set may draw comparison to Tetris, but the comparison isn't really on target. The Wrath of Set puts aside the geometry of Tetris and plays more toward a combination of Bubble-Bobble and billiards. Shooting balls at a line of encroaching balls will cause the line to explode if more than two balls are touching. Combos or chains are possible if the exploding balls cause other balls to touch in threesomes. These chains will sometimes release special objects or earn big points. The special items can be used to trigger more chains and explode large groups of balls. There is always an option to keep special attacks on reserve or hold a color for when you really, really need it.

The only control options are to speed up the movement of your shooter and switch between the active and reserve balls. Much like the very simple gameplay of Bubble-Bobble, you will find that there is very little distraction with controls as you play the game. A good game of this genre should almost put you in a trance and help while the hours away. The Wrath of Set succeeds on that count. There are two main modes that let you play through and open new levels or try to stay alive during wave after wave of new balls. The power-ups you collect by initiating chains really help to get through the game and provide an interesting strategic element.

The difficulty in Luxor: The Wrath of Set is adjustable in all modes and there is a very slow, steady ramp while playing through the main mode. Not until several hours had passed did I find clearing a level all that difficult. As new colors are introduced, the challenge rises. Certain level designs are particularly difficult because balls will pass through tunnels or under obstacles that prevent you from locking onto them. The other trick that comes into play is where balls roll in ways that make it hard for you to place that critical third ball. The worst thing is when you shoot a ball into the wrong place and make things more difficult... Mastering the option to exchange balls is a key to winning.

Game Mechanics:
Lots of neat, thoughtful features are contained in Luxor: The Wrath of Set. The movement control is available on D-pad or analog. There were times I appreciated the more precise control of the D-pad, but more experienced players will appreciate the ease of use that analog provides. The Wrath of Set has some very subtle helping features like the dim beam of light that shines from your shooter in the color of the ball you're holding. It didn't even register with me at first until I realized that I was watching the top of the screen to discern patterns and didn't want to be distracted by the need to glance down at what color ball I was holding. The color of the light will tell you which ball is up to bat. It would have been nice to see the next one or two balls in queue on screen, but nothing like this is present in The Wrath of Set.

There is no multiplayer option, which is a shame considering the platform. Some type of vs. mode could have amped up the replay value of the game tremendously. Playing at a higher level of difficulty or in Survival Mode is a nice option, but I love the idea of playing a level against an opponent. There aren't even online rankings... I don't see where something like this would have been difficult to implement and it would have made The Wrath of Set stronger. As a casual, one-player experience there is a lot of good about this game. I found hours and hours to kill playing this and the levels are nice and compact. The temptation to come back and play "one more" is always strong, which is a sign of a good game. Here's hoping that Mumbo Jumbo finds commercial success with The Wrath of Set on PSP and brings more of their fun titles to the handheld market.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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