theuselessgod's Luxor 2 (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Just play Zuma instead.

The Short

Pros

- Fun enough match-three puzzle game in the vein of PopCap's awesome Zuma

- Lots of powerups, which are obtained by matching three in a row, keep things interesting

- Absolutely insane number of levels and three difficulty levels

- Has an ancient Egypt theme. ANCIENT EGYPT IS AWESOME.

- Decent enough time to burn a few hours

Cons

- Speaking of Zuma, this game rips it off. Completely.

- While ripping off Zuma, it doesn't do anything original like Zuma did.

- Seriously, Zuma's Revenge on iOS is my new addiction. This game just is the same thing over and over.

- A very limited number of stages that repeat way too often.

- Music is repetitive and gets obnoxious very fast

- Game also get unfairly difficult fast, with limited extra lives and continues making it a pain even on "Easy"

- Some powerups are completely useless

- Has achievement points that aren't divisible by five. That's just garbage.

- Overall, this is just a piss-poor Zuma clone

S
Stop bustin my balls.

The LongHey, have you heard of PopCap? No? Does the game Bejeweled ring any bells? How about Peggle? Or Plants vs Zombies? Point is, PopCap practically prints money with every game they put out. Bejeweled has been ripped off so many times because it's more addicting than crack, and honestly I'm surprised nobody's tried to steal the Peggle formula considering how quitting that game could require a support group.

Anyway, they also released a nifty game called Zuma. Essentially, you play a frog that spits colored balls at an incoming chain of colored balls, all set to a nifty Mayan theme. Match three and it blows up. Same colors are magnetically attracted, so you can make long chains if you are smart. Power-ups spawn, and the general goal is simply to fill up a "Zuma" meter (made my getting matches), which will make the ball-chain stop spawning and let you clean up. It's a clever, easy game that plays really damn good on my iPhone (seriously. Zuma's Revenge. It's like $2. Buy it.) and falls into that "casual but addicting" class of games.

Did you catch that? Because Luxor saw all the money Zuma was printing and ripped the game off completely, and somehow managed to make it bad.

As you can see, Luxor 2...hey wait, this is a Zuma screenshot! How did I possibly get these two games confused?

Everything here is the same. Instead of Mayan, we have Ancient Egypt (which I will admit is much cooler because nothing beats Ancient Egypt in "Coolest places ever."). Instead of a frog that spins in the middle, we have a winged...thing that can only go back an forth on the bottom to shoot balls. Instead of Mayan coins you can pick up ancient Egyptian looking...things that sometimes spawn from balls. And so on. In truth, the only real major change between these two is that you aren't spinning in the middle, and power-ups are dropped instead of randomly spawning on the chain.

Oh, and that Zuma is way better, but that's not the point.

Little known fact about ancient Egypt: The pyramids were erected by BALLS.

So you sit at the bottom and get color balls and shoot them at an oncoming chain until your Luxor meter is full and then you finish off the remaining balls and then you win, hooray! If you explode three match-three balls in a row a random powerup is dropped, and it's essential to exploit this to beat the later levels. Powerups are frequent but mostly really lame, unlike Zuma were they were all useful. Some really crappy ones include the "net" powerup (which just means you can catch more coins if they randomly drop...for a limited time) and the "aim" powerup, which is good if you really suck, I guess. There's a few decent ones like fireballs and lightning, but they hardly ever drop. I once was about to die and it dropped six nets in a row, dooming me to a catastrophic failure. Maybe I'm still bitter about this. You decide from the tone of this review.So now that you get it, let me explain quickly why Luxor 2 is way worse than Zuma. In case you didn't get that point already.

Where the balls is this chain's path? It's about as intuitive as...something that isn't intuitive.

Aside from the bad powerup spawning (which I mentioned already), the fact you can only go back and forth on the bottom is actually more hindering than you'd think. The reason is the stages aren't designed around this changed mechanic; instead they just seemed to put random paths. In Zuma, every sage was specifically designed to work with the frog at its location and with 360 degrees of aiming. In this it's like they just slapped it together, which means some later levels are damn near impossible.

Speaking of levels, there's an extremely limited number. You'll be recycling quickly and, while Zuma did it, this one has less stages than Zuma. Another big issue I had is that in Zuma the path is very obviously outlined. You know where the balls are going so you can plan ahead. In Luxor 2, they just seem to wind around at random. The background images (while of the Egypt variety) don't project where the chain goes. It's annoying.

The whole game just feels like a cheap cash-in. Which is especially stupid considering this is the second Luxor game. Come on! At least have an original thought in your head that isn't "Hey, we could put it in EGYPT!"

Again, no hate against Egypt, but this game is balls.

It doesn't help the game is ugly, especially the backgrounds. The rendering is really low and unappealing to look at, and while the balls animate well and the powerups are flashy it just looks like a cheap game (which is because it is). The music is also really obnoxious: same one song, over and over. And when the balls get close, same high-intensity song which is shorter. And you'll hear the latter a lot in the later levels, meaning it'll drive you insane as it's just the same few notes over and over. Ugh.

At least this stage projects where the balls are going. Lightning, away!

I got this game for free as a pack-in when I bought my Arcade 360 unit way back in the day, and for the brief stint of time where I only owned Ninja Gaiden 2 and Eternal Sonata, Luxor 2 was a decent diversion (at the cost of free). However, after I got better games (and found out Zuma existed), I haven't played it since. Added bonus that the game gets nuts hard near the end, and with the limited lives and really obnoxious continue system it's easy to get stuck in an infinite loop of suck. Seriously, I'm good at these games, I swear, and I still couldn't beat it. Maybe I'm just the worst Luxor 2 player, or maybe this game is just balls.The fact they are still asking $10 for this game on XBLA blows my mind. And they haven't stopped milking their Zuma ripoff idea: They are at like Luxor 6 or 7 on PC. I see them when I go to Target, in the "paper sleeve crappy cheap games" side of the PC gaming section. Usually the pack like four of them together for $10, which is like getting 4x the suck for one not-so-low-price.

Point being: just pretend this game doesn't exist, and go buy Zuma's Revenge on iOS. Or PC. Or whatever; that game rocks. This game does not.

Two out of five stars.

Plus, they even designed some of their stages to knock-off Luxor. What goes around comes around, buddy! Also, balls.

More at http://nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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