iPhone Game Review: Scarabeus - Pearls of Nile Reviewed by JadeDragon
Scarabeus - Pearls of Nile is a puzzle game that has bright and sharp graphics and well designed levels. The concept of the gameplay is very simple: fill the orb holder (disc of horus as it's called in the game) with the same color orbs that match the center gem. Once all four orb slots are filled, you get to collect the center gem. You beat the level by collecting all the center gems on the board. It sounds simple, but the game turns out to be super addictive.
Like a good puzzle, Scarabeus has a very nice level design that ties into the historical and geographical locations along the Nile. As you travel through 40 locations, the puzzles get more and more complex with new elements added to the mix along the way. You start out with a couple of scarabs dials that hold orbs, after the first 10 levels or so, you will have elaborate contraptions that are filled with direction switches, orb traps, gravity pulls and color changing switches.
There are 5 orbs with solid colors and a rainbow orb that can be any color. The orbs come out from the top, and you only have a limited time to put them into a slot on the disc of horus; if you take too long, the orb will disappear and the next orb in line comes down from the feeder. In the first few levels, you might get two to four discs to fill, then the numbers of discs increase to eight, ten, etc. In addition to the disc of horus tasks, the game also wants you to collect diamond shaped gems that appear on the path where the orbs travel. To collect these gems all you have to do is to roll the orbs through them. But when the gems are placed right next to a trap door, you should be very careful when to roll your orbs.
To make things more interesting, along orb?s traveling paths you will find different traps and switches. The directional switches are handy for controlling where the orbs go, but also add a level of confusion while you are busy looking at other places on the board. One wrong move, your orb can get a different color rinse or travel to the dark chasm and disappear into a trap door. Painter switches change the colors of the orbs travel through them, colorgates guard the paths and only let the orbs matching the gate color through, graviton sucks any orbs near it, exploder will disintegrate anything you send into its fiery whole, and teleports transport orbs from one location to another. Along the tubes where the orbs travel, there are also traps that suck away the orbs if you send them through while the trap doors are open, spring switches that will spring back orbs. You will fail the level if you loose too many orbs, and the game will give you fewer and fewer extra orbs to loose as the levels progress.
Mixing the discs with these traps and switches is a great way to twist your brain and work your eyes and fingers, but the game doesn?t stop there. Sometimes, it puts painter colors and the disc colors on the opposite end of the board, so you will need to: get the orbs into a disc, move it to change to the desired color, move it back to the correct slot; all the while avoiding trap doors, other color painters and moving directional switches as well as taking new orbs into a new slot so that it doesn?t disappear. Some times, there are no real paths for the orbs to travel but teleports. Are we having fun yet? Scarabeus ? Pearl of Nile offers OpenFeint as the keeper of global high scoreboard.
The ultra bright colors in Scarabeus are not only eye-catching but also matches the style of the game. Puzzles look sharp, physics feel right on target and controls are smooth. The orbs roll like pool balls that feel weighty and when they bounce off each other, they bounce and roll just like pool balls would. The game board has a very clear design, even when it?s filled with discs, paths, switches and more. The graphics also utilize Egyptian style paintings, icons, and most of all, colors. It?s one of the prettiest puzzles games we?ve seen on the iPhone and iPod touch.
Controls are easy: tap the discs and switches to turn them, and slide the orbs to move them. The controls work flawlessly on the iPhone 4.
Scarabeus ? Pearls of Nile has a complete audio package with nice sound tracks and appropriate sound FX. The in-game music has a distinctive Egyptian style with a nice melody and also keeps a nice beat. The game requires such a concentration that the music grabs just the right amount of your attention and then fades to the background. You can turn on or off the in-game music, but you can?t play your own iPod tunes. Sound FX has a 3D feel to it, and there is a whispering voice when you filled a disc and collect the center gem.
Scarabeus ? Pearls of Nile is surprisingly addictive; and since it?s more action oriented as opposed to just solving puzzles, the gameplay has a remarkable replay value. In fact, the 40 levels will go really fast and you will go right back to the beginning and experience the game all over again. In that sense, we hope that we will either see a sequel or more new level packs in the future as the gameplay has infinite potentials.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Sharp and colorful graphics. Sound: - 4.5 - Music has a great style, sound FX are appropriate. No iPod music support. Controls: - 5 - Touch control is smoothly and flawless. Gameplay: - 5 - Well designed levels and ton of replay value.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- If you time it right, you can roll multiple orbs all at once when a trap door is closed. Just adjust the dial on the receiving end to accept all the orbs coming to it.
- Pay attention to the colors of the center gems before you change the colors of the orbs, so that you have an idea of the colors you need to keep and the colors you can change.