Another remake of an old arcade game from City Connection – the same people who pushed out Puzzle Bobble 2X/BUST-A-MOVE 2 Arcade Edition & Puzzle Bobble 3/BUST-A-MOVE 3 S-Tribute recently – is yet another Taito game from 1995, Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute.
Interestingly, this game was first released on the Taito X-55, a karaoke machine released in Japan that could download not only music over a phone line, but also video games. It’s that which is the base of Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute on our modern consoles, and so we need to see what the results are. Let’s head off to a world of puzzling, shall we?
Much as in the Puzzle Bobble release, what we have here with Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute appears to be a perfect port of an arcade game. Given that the modern day smartphones probably have more processing power than the old arcade machines, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that an Xbox Series X can run a perfect port, should it?
Presentation of the game is very nice with a clear look to the graphics and well realised sound; there are some decent tunes and sound effects in place. It runs well too, getting faster and faster as you go on, although thankfully it is always easy to see what you are trying to do. Actually managing it is another matter, however!
With this being a puzzle game, narrative is not a strong point here, and seems to be entirely missing. Still, Tetris didn’t have a story either, and look how successful that was. But this is, basically, Tetris, at least in a nutshell.
See, as you start the game, you have an empty screen, and various sorts of blocks and jewels drop from the top of the screen. We need to construct a wall horizontally, and should a complete row of either blocks or jewels hit, they will disappear. So far, so Tetris, right? Well, there is a bit of a twist to the gameplay, and this comes in the shape of sarcophagus that fall down from the top of the screen. These sarcophagi can only be removed by entirely encasing them in blocks, and when they are removed, the rest of the blocks fall down to fill in the holes they left.
It sounds very easy, and it is at the beginning, but just like Tetris again, Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute speeds up as it goes on. By the time you get to level thirty it is moving so fast that the naked eye can barely follow it, and usually everything then goes horribly wrong. If the blocks pile up to the top of the screen, then you lose.
There are a couple of modes to try. There is the straightforward arcade mode, which runs the basic mechanics either against the AI or against another player in a competitive mode. This is where you will end up spending the majority of your time, unless you can read Japanese. That’s because the other mode is called Mystery Mode – the mystery on display being the need to try and figure out what you need to do. The instructions for this mode are all in Japanese, and when the “Clear Conditions” are a block of text in a language that I don’t speak, it makes the mode basically unplayable. There are apparently fifty levels to have a crack at in this mode too, so it is a good amount, but it is impossible to know what to do. Which is a bit of a shame, as in effect, half the game is cut off from being playable, and so Arcade mode is the only real alternative.
The rest of Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute is as you would expect from a modern day offering of an old classic – there are a lot of extra options included. These include the ability to rewind time a little, so effectively erasing a mistake that you made, and also you can play the game in a slow motion mode, should you wish. As a lot of the challenge of the game is the speed that it gets up to, this makes a lot of sense. It all controls well, fairly simply but you will be better making the most of the D-pad than with the sticks; these feel a little imprecise.
On the whole, Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute plays very well and is a lot of fun. It is a shame about the Mystery Mode though as it is – as the name suggests – a completely impenetrable mystery which leaves us with pretty much half a game; a bit of translation would have made this a much more palatable proposition.
Cleopatra Fortune S-Tribute is on the Xbox Store