Ancient Egypt is a great place to game. Whether it's mowing down thousands of enemies in Serious Sam, spelunking through Tomb Raider's dungeons, or just hopping past the scenery in yet another desert-themed level set in any platformer ever made, it's hard to resist a trip back to one of Earth's most ancient cultures. Luxor: Pharaoh's Curse brings the ball-shooting puzzler to the desert, and it's an excellent version of the PC casual-gaming standard.
A beetle rolls a long line of colored balls down a twisting path, and it's up to hawk-shaped ball shooter moving along the bottom of the screen to prevent the bug from reaching the pyramid at the end. The shooter has full range of motion along the bottom, and moves with lightning speed and precision. An ankh-shaped pointer shows where your shot will land as it travels in a straight line up the screen, and much of the challenge comes not just from timing the shot but also figuring out what to do while waiting for the section of line you need to become available. It's impossible to shoot a vertical shot into the middle of a vertical line, after all, and some parts of the path even travel under the scenery, letting the ball fly right over the spot it needs to go. Thankfully, a quick tap of the B button cycles to the next colored ball, but there are only two colors available at any one time and if neither are what the situation demands then it's time to come up with a new strategy, quick.
Luxor: Pharaoh's Curse brings the ball-shooting puzzler to the desert, and it's an excellent version of the PC casual-gaming standard.
As is par for the course in this type of game, once you've matched at least three balls of the same color they disappear, and the other balls in the line rush in to clear the now-empty space. Careful use of color can make for some long, explosive chain reactions, great for racking up point bonuses and power-ups, while once the beetle has run out of balls to push it explodes into another a pile of goodies.
That's basically all of Luxor right there. Shoot balls, create chains and combos, prevent the line of balls from reaching the end of the path, and move on to the next level. It's simple, but a good kind of simple that's both relaxing and serves as a nice challenge. The story mode has dozens of levels to play through, you can use any unlocked board for an endless challenge, and there's even a version of the 360's Achievements to earn.
Luxor: Pharaoh's Challenge has been kicking around in one form or another for almost two years now, but its never too late for a well done port. Like all the best casual games, its simple mechanics lead to serious addictive potential, and the original mouse-based controls translate perfectly to the Wii's remote. Luxor would be a lot easier to recommend if the motion controls didn't make it cost twice as much as the PS2 and PSP versions, and four times as much as Luxor 2 on XBLA, but it still manages to provide an adequate amount of casual bang for your gaming buck.