Sometimes a formula just works, and in the case of the tried-and-true matching setup, we've seen it work time and time again. This edition of Weekend Download highlights a few new games that take the matching to a new level with interesting twists on the old convention.
Ancient Quest of Saqqarah (Windows, Mac, 27MB, demo) - First things first: this game is gorgeous. I don't mean just spiffy or even really good looking, I mean crisp, clear, eye-popping gorgeous. The presentation of this Egyptian-themed match-3 game is stunning on every level, from the art design to the lighting/smoke effects, the interface, and even the voice acting. Technical achievements aside, in Ancient Quest of Saqqarah you solve sets of puzzles across themed temples and unlock new spells and games along the way. No boring grids here, instead you make matches across the curvy lines to highlight every section of the puzzle. But the fun doesn't stop there, as Saqqarah packs half a dozen types of matching games, one per temple, to keep things lively. Even if matching games aren't your thing, Ancient Quest of Saqqarah will capture your interest.
Puzzle Hero (Windows, 32MB, demo) - After the overwhelming success of Puzzle Quest and Bookworm Adventures, several casual games have been released to help establish the puzzle/RPG hybrid genre. Spandex Force is a good example of this, and now Puzzle Hero comes along with its own style of genre mixing, though this effort is notably less inventive than its cousins. Swap tiles at the bottom of the screen to attack and defeat a string of foes. Earn gold to buy new equipment, learn spells, and level up your character to increase your overall awesomeness. The role playing elements aren't as fleshed out as they could be be, making the Puzzle Hero experience much more Bejeweled-esque than Hero-esque, but the skeleton is there and there are some interesting components that make it fun to play around with.