capsule review


You’ve got to hand it to PlayFirst —the game publisher is making a strong effort to appeal to Mac users, now with half its available games on the Mac. PlayFirst’s bread and butter are casual games that are often variations on simple puzzle and action titles we’ve seen before, but they’re well-crafted with good production values. TriJinx is no exception.

This entertaining variant on the venerable “match three” game concept brings us to the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh as we help adventurer Kristine Kross search for her missing father.

With a story line that’s unabashedly inspired by the Indiana Jones movies, we find Kristine—a 1930’s-era adventurer—traveling through a labyrinth of ancient tombs under the shifting sands of the Egyptian desert. She must make her way through a total of 68 levels to find her father—there are interstitial sequences with audio tracks, dialogue and sound effects paired to comic book-style illustrated panels that tell the story.

The TriJinx themselves are pyramidal puzzles—triangular-shaped pieces fall from the top in different colors, and if you can align three or more pieces together, you can make them disappear. Fill colored canopic jars with the pieces you get rid of and you can proceed to the next level. There can be obstructions in the way, but you can rotate the entire puzzle board from left to right, which will shift the pieces and reshuffle them.

You’ll find bonus powerups, such as bomb pieces, which will loosen fixed areas such as those obstructions I mentioned, and get rid of colored pieces all together. Multi-colored pieces can fill in if you’ve got two pieces of the same color on either side.

The more pieces of the same color you align, the higher your points—there are special bonuses for assembling them into complete hexagons, and the bonuses multiply if you get more than a hexagon’s worth at a time. If you manage to zap the same color three times in a row, you can earn a scarab, which can be activated to make all the pieces of that color disappear.

A puzzle mode has you figure out TriJinx-based head scratchers, while Arcade mode is purely a time-based activity. “Adventure mode” unveils the 68 levels of gameplay, complete with storyline and different challenges over time.

Gameplay can be a bit awkward as you have to rotate using the keyboard’s arrow keys then click to remove pieces, but it’s usually not a problem (though it does get tricky in faster-paced later levels, especially on laptop keyboards).

TriJinx saves for you between levels, so you can resume your game whenever you want. Multiple players can also play—the game tracks you by name.

TriJinx is a Universal binary that runs natively on PowerPC and Intel-Macs alike. An hour-long demo version is available for download.

The bottom line

TriJinx takes the tested “match three” concept in a unique direction with its adventure story line; it’s definitely worth checking out for puzzle game fans.

[ EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to a reviewing error TriJinx was originally reported as being a PowerPC binary only, when in fact it is Universal. This has been corrected. ]

Play like an Egyptian : In TriJinx, you help adventurer Kristine negotiate her way through a labyrinth of ancient tombs by solving a series of pyramidal puzzles.
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