Ancient Egypt is responsible for some of the most wondrous monuments and creations the world has ever seen – anything from the Valley of the Kings to the Sphinx to its pyramids and decorated tombs, all of which have been inspirations the world over.
Without the ancient Egyptians, there'd be no Luxor hotel in Las Vegas with its big, environment-sapping laser light beamed up into the sky. And how would we have existed as a race without such an edifice? It just doesn't bear thinking about.
Of more importance, arguably, there'd be no Luxor 2, either – a mobile game spin-off of the PC game released in 2006, and one that has you defending pyramids from sphere-pushing scarabs. The original Luxor was released on mobile last year. This, you've probably already deduced is its sequel, incorporating new bonus levels and power-ups.
The gameplay in Luxor 2 is largely identical to its predecessor. Each level begins with a row of coloured spheres travelling towards their ultimate goal of a pyramid at the far end of their pre-laid track. You control a winged scarab, which can travel left and right across the bottom of the screen, firing a succession of coloured spheres of your own. Similar to a game like puzzler Bust-A-Move (or indeed the suspiciously similar Zuma), landing three like-coloured spheres next to one another causes them to disappear.
Chain reactions are set up when three spheres disappearing cause another set to join up and explode, too. Managing to destroy more than three spheres at a time releases a power-up, and these can be used to make your job of stopping the relentless army of coloured balls a bit easier.
It's standard 'match three' puzzle fare, in other words.
But there are several clever elements to Luxor 2. First, each level has a different track leading to the temple, which affects its difficulty greatly. Generally, the smaller or windier ones are tougher, making you act quickly and meaning the spheres in front can get in the way of the ones behind, causing a great big pile up of spheres that you really don't want.
Momentum plays a big part in the game, with the individual rows of spheres being pushed from behind by a scarab, and you'll need to get the balance right. Destroy their weakest point and they lose momentum and end up travelling at a snail's pace. But allow several chains to join up and they're relentless. Take out the wrong part, and the whole lot goes tumbling through the temple gates.
Of the nine power-ups you can win along the way, most make a return from the original game. 'Sharp Shooter' gives you a laser sight to pinpoint your sphere shooting, 'Slow' and 'Reverse' affect the advancing chains in the ways you'd expect, and there are colour bombs to change the colours of spheres. You'll also discover daggers, giving you a limited number of the sharp instruments with which to take out any spheres you like, a net to catch falling point-giving gems, a speed shot and a 'Wild Ball', which acts as whichever colour is most useful.
Once you've finished the main Quest mode, an additional Survival mode lets you play through the same levels again with unlimited spheres so you can see how long you can survive.
What is new, however, are the bonus levels. Every five stages you complete unlocks a bonus round where you simply fire daggers at the advancing spheres to take them all out, a bit like a Space Invaders game.
Overall, then, not too much has changed since the first Luxor game, but that means nothing has been broken for the sequel. The 30 levels will keep you challenged for a while, although annoyingly their difficulty can be a little sporadic. We encountered a level halfway through that took us around 20 attempts, which was directly followed by a stupidly simple affair full of tiny chains.
In the context of the rest of the games, which is certainly one of the most addictive puzzle games we've played for a long time, those spikes don't prove particularly troublesome. Crucially, it doesn't dilute the fact Luxor 2 is both a traditional colour-matching puzzler and something cleverer, more strategic and skilful.
If you haven't tried its predecessor one, you should definitely give this a go. And if you have, well, you'll know why you won't mind getting entombed in its gameplay again.