THE MAZE OF THE KINGS
Developer: Hitmaker/crazy Games Year: 2002 Genre: Lightgun
It feels like Ancient Egyptian themes aren’t really used enough in videogames – we’ve seen enough Romero-style lumbering zombies to last a lifetime and Castlevania’s got the vampire scene sewn up pretty well, but we don’t often find ourselves in a life or death confrontation with a mummy. Fear not though, as The Maze Of The Kings casts you as an archaeological treasure hunter exploring the pyramids. Along the way you’ll be attacked by skeletal guards, crawling critters and of course a variety of bosses.
The game’s concept came from Shinya Nishigaki of Crazy Games, who wanted to make an arcade horror game after finishing the Dreamcast horror games Illbleed and Blue Stinger. Hitmaker staff including The Lost World: Jurassic Park director Shinichi Ogasawara assisted in order to ensure that the game would work well in the arcade environment.
Each game begins with the player selecting a weapon, with higher power weapons needing more frequent reloading, and a special item. You’ll then be subjected to relentless attacks from skeletal guards, creepy crawlies and mythical animals, which you have to shoot to survive. However, scoring points relies on gathering treasure – and for that you’ll need to shoot pots and other containers. If you shoot larger treasure targets before they disappear, they’ll bounce and their point values will be bumped up, but of course you run the risk of being attacked while doing so. What’s particularly exciting about The Maze Of The Kings is that your route is randomised – each time you play you’ll be sent to different rooms, which increases the replay value of the game considerably.
It’s not hard to see why The Maze Of The Kings never came to Dreamcast – 2002 was a bit late to be considering that, even if a NAOMI port would have been fairly simple. However, we’re not sure why it never came to Playstation 2 or Xbox, as Sega published lightgun games for both machines and it was certainly no worse a candidate for conversion than The House Of The Dead III. Still, that just means it’s well worth sticking some credits in if you see a cabinet in the wild.
These pots in the background are full of pointscoring items. They’re the only way you’ll boost your score, so smash them whenever you get the chance. Enemies in this game aren’t too subtle – they’ll run right up to you and try to stab or bite you. It’s their speed and numbers that pose more of a threat.
The targets you need to hit to attack the boss and prevent damage change colour to represent danger. Orange indicates that an attack is imminent. The flames that Tutankhamun is breathing here are pretty hazardous to your health. Whether or not he fires them depends on your aim.