Saqqarah HD spoils the senses


Spoiler alert! If you like visually dynamic but difficult game play, Saqqarah HD is your game. The colors are dazzling, the sounds dramatic and mastering the levels is downright demanding. This is definitely a best buy.


It’s game day Friday and my last entry for a while. I am taking off the month of February. I’ll be taking off the whole month because I’m attending and presenting at the International Conference of Religion and Spirituality in Society and I need to focus my energy away from the blog (which consumes more of my focus than I’d realized).

I will be exploring the impact of metaphoric thinking on religious conflict, which is a sharp left turn from iPad gaming. I would discuss it more, but even Carol goes to sleep about five minutes into every discussion.

To be fair, I go to sleep about five minutes into every discussion we have about Siamese Rescue guidelines for community foster groups looking for umbrella organizations. We don’t really go to sleep when the other talks, but it’s a delicate marriage skill people develop over the years—the ability to express your interest in your love’s interest when there is far more love than genuine interest.

I’m also developing a new blog called, some of you may have guessed it, BPKblog (that’s the working name and the URL). The starting point will be growing up as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid which can lead me into some of the issues that get me sidetracked so often here. I don’t know when I will launch it, but I want to explore some of the possible topics to see if it’s even viable.

Nor does this mean I won’t continue to get sidetracked into those issues in this blog anymore. To the contrary, there may even be a little cross over. But at least I’ll be able to justify them more readily in BPK blog.

Jewish people have Woody Allen, and Catholics have Joy Behar, but Baptists don’t really have a comedian spokesperson who loves the culture without embracing the party line. Except maybe George Bush, but his fans never seemed to realize he’s a comedian.

As my sendoff before the break, I decided to review the game that I personally think is about the most fun you can have with an iPad (at least the most recent). Saqqarah HD is actually a combination of six different iPhone games, incorporating them into six temples within the overall game structure.

The game design is first rate, about the best I’ve seen on the iPad. The color palette is delicious, and the graphics incredibly detailed without interfering with game play.

Best of all, at least one of the game configurations is bound to stump you and possibly even drive you crazy before you finally master it. On the plus side, you are likely to find at least one or two accessible enough to blow right through so that you don’t feel like a complete idiot.

Saqqarah HD is based on the classic match-three game concept. Players match three or more tokens to move them off the game board until they clear each level. Many of the games simply require simple matches to free up special tiles, or to accumulate a specific point total.

Condeminion, the game developer, added even more wrinkles to the formula. It isn’t enough to match tokens, players have to match and/or remove them until the remaining tokens fill in the empty spaces of a game board which changes from level to level.

To fill in a space, players must remove tokens in a way that will bring the same colored token to each of the space’s corners, and a given space may have anywhere from three to six corners. Sometimes the corners of one space have to match the colors of adding spaces. The trick is to figure out the rules of configuration.

Saqqarah HD challenges players to match tokens in a variety of combinations. When the match touches all of the corners of an empty space, the space fills. When all the spaces fill, the challenge is completed.

Click image to see full size

Each stage, or temple, has two dozen levels plus bonus games. Each level becomes more and more complex, sometimes bewilderingly complex. The developers claim to provide more than five hundred puzzles, but I think this includes some of the simpler bonus games.

The bonus games are pretty simple. The most common bonus is the challenge to select specific icons from the wall.

Click image to see full size

The bonus games are probably the one weakness I can find in Saqqarah HD. There are pretty much variations on only two (at least to the point I’ve played): When you complete six levels in a temple the silver scarabs that you earn with each level swarm the screen and you have to crush them. The other game involves finding different series of hieroglyphs (which may or may not be authentic) from a wall of writing.

The game metaphor takes players to ancient Egypt and seven temples for different Egyptian gods (Set, Thoth, Osiris, etc.). The rules and strategy differ for each temple. Players also earn different powers by achieving different combinations. The powers allow them to reshuffle tokens and even release lightning bolts to blow entire squares away.

The game metaphor takes players through an exploration of Egyptian temples with each God posing a different challenge to players.

Click image to see full size

The sound effects may be the most awesome element of Saqqarah HD. The developers recommend that you play with headphones, which make the sound extraordinary, but even the iPad speakers produce an incredible sound, especially when the tokens smash and clatter to the temple floor.

In addition, Saqqarah—a monkey god with a voice so rich it invokes James Earl Jones and Barry White—coaches you through the game, with words of encouragement and obscene laughter.

Saqqarah, the monkey god, guides players through their journey. His voice seems to be a cross between James Earl Jones and Barry White.

Click image to see full size

Beyond the lack of challenge in the bonus games, I really have nothing to criticize. The game has never crashed on me, and I have played a number of times for as much as an hour at a time.

The game price is also relatively modest, only five dollars. This used to be the high end of iPad games, but that day is long past. Those five dollars are among the best five dollars you will spend on your device.

Jenny Manytoes rates Saqqarah HD

Jenny Manytoes would make biscuits all over Saqqarah HD. I would rate it a best buy, and I haven’t handed out to many of those lately. This may well be the most challenging puzzling game you will play for a while.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
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