Pharaoh in Review – A simple and fun puzzle game

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I’ve been playing puzzle games for quite some time now, but it’s only been since Puzzle Quest that I’ve had larger expectations when it comes to these types of games. Nowadays I want there to be more to a puzzle game, some achievements to reach, some connective story linking my quest together. But sometimes, a puzzle game is no more than the puzzle itself, and so long as it’s bringing something interesting to the table, it can still be a lot of fun too.

And that’s what Pharaoh is. This game is not going to provide you with a deep story (or any story), nor any additional incentives to keep playing other than trying to beat your last high score. In fact, there’s no ‘winning’ this game – it’s only a matter of how long you can last until you lose. It’s a throwback to the unwinnable arcade games of yore, and that works just fine for me.

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There is very little in the way of options or instructions, but frankly you don’t need them. You start with a few rows of gems already in place at the bottom of the board, with some new gems hovering up above. Those gems will fall into the column once you make a single move with the gems below. You can swap any gem with any other, horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. It’s that last one that really adds something a little different to this puzzle game, as it opens up a lot of combinations you normally wouldn’t consider.

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Being able to see what gems are going to be falling into which columns helps you plan out a strategy – and strategy is what it’s all about if you’re going to last in Pharaoh. The columns of gems slowly build to the top of the screen, and the further you advance, the more gems are added at the top. So it’s a race against the building columns to keep all the gems sitting as lowly as possible.

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You’ll also see at the top of the screen (between your score and the menu) something called “Bonus”. You get a bonus whenever you manage to match up two rows of at least three gems each in a single move. Those bonus points get used up each time a column has reached the highest level and you have another gem coming down above it. Once all your bonus points are gone, if a gem falls on a full column, it’s game over.

And that’s really it. There’s a high score board, but it’s only set up to keep your own scores, not online – which would be one of my only suggestions for the developer. I’d probably add the whole OpenFeint suite, but ultimately it’s not really necessary. The static pictures in the background get the job done, though they look a little more like stock pictures than artwork that was created just for this game. But the gems look nice, as do the rest of the graphics, and the touch screen controls are very responsive – almost sometimes too responsive, as there were times when it registered a move from the slightest accidental touch. But none of those complaints keep it from being a Grab It recommendation. If you’re looking for a simple puzzle game without the trappings, this is a good one.

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App Summary
Title:Pharaoh (v1.0)Developer:Megasoft2000 Ltd.
Price:$0.99App Size:5.5 MB
  • Some nice innovations keep this puzzle game feeling fresh
  • Responsive Controls
  • Nice to look at
  • No online high scores
  • No way to ‘complete’ the game or additional incentives to continue playing

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