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LordGek
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iPhone Game Review: Secret of Lost Pyramid
      #35981 - 02/12/10 06:00 PM

iPhone Game Review: Secret of Lost Pyramid

Could it be that card game we know of as Uno is nothing but some modernized version of this ancient Mayan game played with ornate bejeweled tiles?

Gameplay

After searching the deepest depths of the South American jungle (for security reasons we'd best not get more specific), you?ve finally found the ancient lost pyramid! Only you soon realize there is a catch, to gain entrance you?ll need to best the pyramid?s many guardians in a game reminiscent to the modern card game Crazy 8?s or Uno using specially constructed ceramic tiles. For those of you unfamiliar with the Crazy 8?s card game I?m referring to, your goal is to unload your cards by matching either the suit or number of the card currently on the top of the pile. If you can?t play any of your current cards and don?t have a magic 8 that you can play on anything and lets you change the suit, you?ll need to draw a new one, and if you still can?t play that one, play continues onto your opponent. Uno came onto the scene later which took the basic concepts of Crazy 8?s but added a number of specialty cards that could skip your opponent or make them draw extra cards. Secret of the Lost Pyramid seems to most closely resemble the latter, Uno, but as opposed to using suits and numbers, the plates come in 4 colors with special symbols.



Play in the main campaign unfolds in three chapters. With each successive opponent you?ll learn more about the game?s special cards (ones that will make your opponent draw extra plates, change the active color, skip your opponent?s turn, etc.). If you lose, no biggy, just replay the opponent until you do win and you?ll eventually make it into the inner sanctum of this mysterious pyramid (the progress will be indicated with text and little animations). Once you finally conclude the third chapter, you?ll unlock the Freeplay Mode of the game (which I think is where the game really gets interesting).

Graphics

The game has decent thematic 3D graphics that really convey some strange ancient game being played deep in the some Mayan pyramid.

Sound

Good ambient sounds, good stone clicks of placed tiles, and some cool region appropriate music playing in the background.



Pros:

-While it plays fairly similar to Crazy 8?s or Uno, it still has some subtle unique twists that make it entertaining in its own right.
-Stylish presentation that really fits the theme of playing some ancient tile game in a jungle pyramid.
-Does a good job of slowly introducing you to each of the game?s special tiles.
-Includes a good number of Open Feint Achievements to celebrate your conquest of the pyramid.
-Has the two modes of play, Campaign and Freeplay (although I believe only vs. AI so far).
-Tracks your highscore in Freeplay in Open Feint.

Cons:

-The Campaign drags on a bit with really nothing new being introduced in the third chapter.
-Since the Freeplay mode is, in my opinion, the best part, it?s a little annoying the game expects you to complete the Campaign first just to try it out.

Conclusion

It?s a stylish take on a two player Uno variant and the Freeplay Mode is actually pretty clever as how the game is scored seems counter intuitive at first but is actually pretty neat. I?d recommend this to fans of board and card games on the iPhone.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: -4- Good 3D thematically stylized graphics.
Sound: -4- Ambient sounds, clicks of tiles, and authentic Ancient Mayan sounding music.
Controls: -4.5- Very easy and intuitive.
Gameplay: -4- I really like the Freeplay mode, and didn?t mind the first chapter or so of the Campaign, but didn?t see any point to putting the player through a third chapter unless they were just trying to stretch things out.



Playing Hints and Tips:

-Pay attention to what colors you opponent needs to draw tiles for. If your opponent has had to draw every time they?re faced with blue tiles, try to keep it blue as much as possible since drawing tiles reduces the chance you opponent can go out before you.

-Learn how to setup long chains. If you plan things out you can easily enough get rid of 3 or more tiles in a row without your opponent getting a turn by linking multiple same colored skip and draw tiles or even matching multiple draw tiles so that you opponent will not just not get a turn but will have to draw a bucket of tiles at the same time.

-Realize that in Freeplay it isn?t just about winning (which, of course, is required to post your score) but stretching play out as long as possible and trying to work in as many long chains (playing multiple tiles without your opponent getting a turn) as possible before finally winning. I think you also get a small bonus based on how many tiles are still in your opponent?s had as well. In this mode of play you and your AI opponent are essentially building up a pot with each tile placed so if you can find ways to intentionally delay the end of the game doing things like drawing a tile when you already have a playable one, but still manage to win in the end you can net yourself a nice score. What?s even cooler is that, regardless of your ranking via Open Feint, the game will give you a basic descriptive grading of your end score (using terms like ?Average? or ?Great?) just to give you some idea of how well you did (which, after winning your first game is kind of hard to judge in isolation).

Game Facts:
Developer: Viacheslav Klimov
Release Date: January 20th, 2010
Version: 1.0.1 (OS 3.0 Tested)
Genre: Card/Board Game
File Size: 15.2 MB
Price: $0.99
Buy Game:
Full Version: iTunes App Store

--------------------
Staff Reviewer at Mobile Tech Review


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Tong ZhangModerator
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Reged: 06/26/02
Posts: 12424
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Re: iPhone Game Review: Secret of Lost Pyramid [Re: LordGek]
      #35982 - 02/12/10 07:11 PM

The graphics look really good! Thanks for the review, LG! Will have to try it.

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