In order to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the highly-regarded marble popper Luxor, MumboJumbo has released the series’ latest iteration, 5th Passage. As with other games in the series, the Egyptian theme is in full effect and you have the lowly task of matching three or more like-colored marbles for no particular reason. It is an utterly pointless task, but that’s okay because a game like this relies solely on fun, which is not lacking here. And it’s a good thing too because anyone who knows me also knows that I love playing games for no reason other than simply enjoying my free time.
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Unlike Quest For The Afterlife, there are no special cutscenes or attempts at trying to establish a storyline. Instead, 5th Passage gets back to basics and focuses entirely on the gameplay, which is how I prefer it with a game of this sort. Those familiar with the Luxor series will plainly see that it sticks true to its roots by featuring the best aspects of previous games without straying too far from the main adventure, which is a hefty one indeed. As we’ve come to expect, there are numerous levels focused on creating winding, intertwining path to give you a real challenge when clearing out all of the balls. Because of the sheer number of levels, MumboJumbo has been able to set us up with the perfect learning curve, which makes it so just about anyone can learn and eventually complete the game if they just keep at it.
Also back are the delightful powerups that are essential to achieving victory and earning bonus points. There are even four new ones that aren’t really necessary but are welcome nonetheless because when you get deep into the game, especially on harder settings, you need all the help you can get. And these will certainly help; two of the four new powerups include a black hole and the ability to shoot two balls at once. The old powerups still remain, which leaves you with a hefty arsenal. Additionally, clicking on the Eye of Horus will clear the screen if you are absolutely desperate. As an added bonus, the visual effects seem to have been improved and they’re a real treat to look at. In fact, the whole game overall looks great, but the powerups are especially impressive. The soundtrack is also worth noting. Although it doesn’t really set itself apart from those of the other games, it is befitting of the atmosphere and is always easy on the ears.
If you think this sounds like any other Luxor game, you are partially right. 5th Passage does have a few tricks up its sleeve, however. In addition to the Adventure Mode—sporting 100 levels—there is also the new Blast Mode, in which you have two minutes to earn as many points as you possibly can on select levels. It’s fast-paced and hectic and you’ll surely find yourself playing over and over again as you try to improve on your best score. There is also People’s Choice, which allows you to go back and play some of the fan favorites from three previous games in the series. My wife particularly enjoyed this because she spent a few months obsessed with Luxor 2 on XBLA and, to a much lesser extent, Luxor 3 on the Wii. While it doesn’t change the gameplay mechanics in any way, it was nice to go back and relive some of those levels.
Luxor: 5th Passage doesn’t do anything remarkably extraordinary in comparison to the rest of the series, but it is still a solid title and a great way to wrap up all of the previous games. And with new modes as well as achievements, it should keep you coming back for more even after completing the Adventure Mode. I can’t say for sure whether or not MumboJumbo will continue making new Luxor games each year, but if so, it’s safe to say that this will likely be the new benchmark against which any future releases will be compared. It would have been nice to see a few more additions such as multiplayer or perhaps a puzzle mode (as seen in Pirate Poppers), but we still have a great package here that doesn’t disappoint.