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Anirah: Riddle of the Pharaohs

Published by Lost Luggage Studios
Price $9.95
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

Sometimes a game feels like it has a deeper plot behind it than it seems. I did a little online research for the name "Anirah", wondering if there was some ancient Egyptian myth that the game was based upon, and it seems not. If there is some riddle of the pharaohs that this game retells, I have not yet discovered it. Unless any of you find out differently I suggest you invent your own game plot - there really isn't any bearing on gameplay - and if it leads to a bestselling novel a la Dan Brown, well done to you.

Plain background, basic tiles. Patterned background.

The aim of this puzzler couldn't be simpler - clear all the tiles, by selecting any number of them that add up to the target number. The trick is that you can only select free tiles - ones that are able to slide horizontally or vertically off the board without hitting another tile. Different game modes have slightly different approaches - standard mode has one number for the entire round, with a new one generated for each level, while dice mode rolls a new target for every match. Both game modes can also be played with a timer for a touch of extra spice. Depending on game difficulty, you can have up to three "wildcard" tiles that can be used to match anything, and harder difficulties also include higher value tiles.

Controls are simple. Click on a tile to select it - once a full match is made, all tiles swoosh off the board. If no tiles can be matched, the game ends. Your objective is to last as long as you can, scoring more points as you progress. The challenge comes from clearng the tiles efficiently - clear all your low tiles at the start and you'll be stuck with all the high ones.

This is hard mode - many more tiles, with higher numbers! There are 10 types of people in the world. Those that understand binary...

Graphics are a little simplistic but there are plenty of options for them. A range of backgrounds can be selected, and five tile sets offer a little variety ("geek" tiles are there for the player looking for a real challenge - how's your binary arithmetic?). Menus and suchlike are fairly basic, however; a few custom buttons here would make Anirah look much more professional. Sound effects are understandably limited, but a range of music tracks are included. Both volumes can be individually adjusted and there are options for single music tracks, a demo mode that gives a taste of all of them, or to play all tracks (sequentially or randomly).

Anirah is easy to learn to play, and the game mechanics are quite forgiving for those that find counting difficult (you can't select more than the target number, and you can keep selecting if you're under it). Selected tiles are clear and can be deselected by reclicking them. Do be careful about clicking on wildcards - they should always (obviously!) be the LAST tile you click on in a set. I am also pleased with the way the game theme is preserved (with Egyptian style music and papyrus tiles!) yet feel this could perhaps be taken a little further.

There are, however, a few annoying gripes in this department - some levels are actually impossible. Standard Hard mode is particularly guilty of this as there are no wildcards, so obviously a level can only be completed if the tiles on the board actually add up to a multiple of the target number. Even on the other difficulties there can be issues - I was faced more than once with the task to match for a total of seven, with a mismatch of 6 and 1 tiles (if there are more 6s than 1s even after wildcards the level cannot be cleared, and likewise with 5s and 2s/1s). The more complicated Dice games are ironically better with this, though you could still end up rolling a number larger than the remaining tiles add up to. There is no error checking for situations like this.

We have a pretty good game in progress here, but one that needs a little more work before it can be considered entirely ready. With some prettied up graphics and a few tweaks to the random level generation it could be a potential smash in the casual market.

Graphics 65%
Sound 80%
Playability 70%
Longevity 65%
Overall Score 70%
Bronze Star

Published on 11 Sep 2009
Reviewed by Andrew Williams

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