Pyramids of Ra is a grid-based puzzle game, released on the Game Boy
in April of 1993. Also released in Europe in 1991, Pyramids of Ra was developed by Source Research & Development
. Originally, an NES
version of Pyramids of Ra was planned. Several such prototypes exist, including a modified black and white version of Pyramids of Ra called Scarabeus. These games were never released, but can be found in various forms on the internet and in physical cartridge form.
The goal in Pyramids of Ra is to clear each stage of every tile, while also managing to return to the starting point. Players can move one tile in each direction (up, down, left, right), although it is possible to "jump off" the playing field, as well as the possibility of destroying the incorrect tiles to trap the player or render some tiles inaccessible.
Staying too long on a single tile also destroys it. There is a meter displayed at the top of the screen that, when the player is stationary, quickly decreases in size, requiring the player to move before the destruction of the tile.
Rather than containing a save system, Pyramids of Ra has a password system. Passwords are entirely comprised of letters, rather than typical alphanumeric password systems in games of the time. Each level has its own password, displayed when the game is paused. There are five tombs in the game, each with its own individual levels: Unis, Teti, Khafre, Snefru, and Scarabeus.
There is a wide variety of tiles in Pyramids of Ra, each of which have different effects on the playing field. Some of these tiles actually cannot be destroyed, making them unnecessary before returning to the start.
- One/Two/Three/Unlimited Bounce Tile - The most common forms of tile, these each allow the player to touch them a certain amount of times before they are destroyed (except for the Unlimited tile, which is… unlimited).
- Jump Tile - An indestructible tile that launches the player the direction that the arrow is pointing. It typically launches players over gaps.
- Rotating Jump Tile - Similar to the Jump Tile, save for the fact that it is perpetually spinning in a circle.
- Moving Tile - As per its name, the Moving Tile moves back and forth in certain directions over gaps. The player must time jumps correctly to land on this tile.
- Scarabs - Not necessarily a tile type, Scarabs are enemies that roam tiles in later levels. Players must jump over them in order to avoid being killed.
- Horizontal/Vertical Flip - These tiles flip the playing field according to their description. The two forms are Horizontal and Vertical, each of which flips that direction that it describes.
- Reverse Direction - These tiles alter the player's control, rather than flipping the stage. When the player is on a Reverse Direction tile, right moves left, up moves down, and vice versa.
- Unknown Tiles - Similar to the One/Two/Three series of tiles, these don't reveal how many times they must be jumped on to be destroyed. It varies depending on the tile.
- Reversed Moving Tile - A combination of the Reverse Direction tile and Moving Tile.
- Vertical/Horizontal Flip Moving Tile - A combination of the Vertical/Horizontal Flip tile and the Moving Tile.