Rise of Atlantis addicting gameplay through the Seven Wonders

Posted: May 23, 2009 in Puzzle

Love it or hate it, the Match-3 category has come a long way since the days of Bejeweled, and arguably, many have surpassed Bejeweled in terms of visual and gameplay appeal. Treasures of Montezuma, Azkend, and Gemmed are among the most polished and in-depth, and now you can add Rise of Atlantis to that list. While this was originally developed for the PC with many of the elements found in other Match 3s, Rise of Atlantis for the iPhone/iPod Touch plays is done extremely well and with some addicting gameplay, should be on your list.

Rise of Atlantis uses the backdrop of Atlantis and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World where the objective is to assemble seven ancient items that complete the Altar of Poseidon. Each item is broken up into a number of pieces buried within the legs of the journey, and your task is made more challenging as you face a limited amount of time, obstacles, and increasingly more difficult puzzle formats. The game is beautifully done with introductory animated scenes that take you through the seven cities: Phoenicia, Babylon, Egypt, Carthage, Rome, Greece, and Troy. Each location also has its own soundtrack with a distinctly Middle Eastern theme.

You begin with 3 lives with Phoenicia unlocked by default. The game has 77 levels with progress tracked on an in-game map. Here, you can also view progress for completing the Altar of Poseidon, accessible through its own icon.

A section called Travels uses a tab system so intro animated scenes can be viewed whenever you want for unlocked cities. The tab system allows you to replay levels if you wish to collect bonuses that could come in handy in later stages. And, as sublevels are completed, an interesting factoid is provided about that city. From a presentation perspective, Rise of Atlantis is on par if not better in some cases than Azkend and Treasures of Montezuma.

The only way to free the artifact pieces is by getting them through the bottom of the game field and is identical in concept to Azkend. Numerous power ups, which are attained in the same manner, are available to help along the journey, and not only can you control when you use them, in many cases you can choose exactly where to use them. The primary one is the Sun power up, which destroys random tiles in the play area and can be repeatedly charged by making matches of 4 or more tiles. The strategy is to use it as soon as you need it since it doesn’t carry over into the next level

Unlike the Sun power up, the other power ups can be banked and used in other levels. In fact, it’s a good idea to hold on to these as long as possible since the later levels become more difficult. You also have the flexibility of using these in specific spots and are activated by tapping the power up followed by tapping the target spot.

Bomb—blasts areas and clears out tiles
Lightening—destroys all tiles of a certain type
Swap—swap any two tiles anywhere on the game field

Other bonuses include:
Clock Bonus—adds extra time
Heart—bonus life
Every 100k—extra life

Of course, what would the game be without obstacles, which include locked tiles, double locked tiles (requires two matches to unlock), and walls that prevent tiles from going through the bottom of the game area.

The left side of the game screen consists of the artifact shape, gradually filling up with acquired pieces, the Sun power up area that gradually charges, and holders for the bomb, lightening, swap and time bonuses. As I mentioned, these bonuses can be banked, and a running tally is kept for each. Score and # of lives are also indicated in this area. The play area is on the right along with the time bar at the bottom.

The game starts off easy and offers good balance in terms of ratcheting up the difficulty. For me, the challenge starts picking up in Egypt, but a significant part of the challenge is the changing play area. Unlike other Match 3s that emphasize the importance of combos, I find myself focusing more on recharging the Sun power up, or acquiring artifact pieces and bonuses. While there is an incentive to score more points to secure additional lives, there is plenty of opportunity with the Heart bonus as well which takes away the emphasis on high scores.

On occasion, making matches can be tricky because the tiles are on the smallish side. I don’t have big fingers, and even I had my moments with the tiles. Also, as you progress, multiple artifact pieces will come into play in each level, and time will not be on your side. The level ends when you acquire the artifact piece or pieces, or when the time bar expires. At the end of each level, a statistics page appears showing tiles used, matches made, # of pieces acquired, time spent, bonus time and score.

While it doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking, Rise of Atlantis is a well-presented, polished addicting game with many challenging levels packaged around an interesting storyline. And, one I would recommend.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for those into Match 3s or puzzles with some depth, or just a cheap trip along the Nile. I’m kidding about the Nile)


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