Cleopatra Fortune, also known as Cleopatra’s Fortune, was a 1996 Taito falling block puzzle game where you trap jewels and sarcophagi between blocks to destroy them for points, in a go-like manner. The game first appeared on the Taito X-55, as discovered by our very own Chazumaru, which was bizarre to see linked on wikipedia of all places lol: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra_Fortune
Here’s a Replay Burner video of how the game works. The secret behind scoring high is aim to clear everything and get the PERFECT!
Anyway, I’ve known about it for a while, but I played it for the first time last week and since first touching it, I’ve pretty much haven’t stopped thinking about it everyday now. Mainly, it’s because of the ridiculously catchy main theme, SHININ’ QUEEN by Zuntata’s SHU aka Shuichiro Nakazawa, which is also available on iTunes for a buck: https://music.apple.com/us/album/zuntata-rare-selection-vol-3-sworks/331754892
My first thoughts on playing were: “why are all these Egyptians white? Is the lady in the attract mode Cleopatra? Is the little super deformed character also Cleopatra? WOW THIS MUSIC KICKS oh man I love trapping fortunes this is great”
Since then, I’ve come to learn that the main character of Cleopatra’s Fortune is actually a girl by the name of Patrako, who’s a young Egyptian princess (also explicitly NOT Cleopatra) getting training??? to become an Egyptian god?? Depending on the game’s story.
Falling into the deep well of Cleopatra’s Fortune and Taito history, I’ve found out Patrako has crossed over into many titles, most famously the Taito ball-bouncing puzzler Puchicarat:
Also a pre-smartphone Taito card game, Taito Harikiri Daifugo:
Here’s Patrako’s crossover wiki entry (I didn’t know a wiki for finding crossovers like this even existed before falling into the deep well of Cleopatra’s Fortune!!): https://fictionalcrossover.fandom.com/wiki/Cleopatra_Fortune
Playing through every game in the series, it’s wild to me how different they are. In terms of release order:
1996 Arcade: the scientific standard, the purest of Cleopatra Fortuning. Introduces Patrako, her chibi and tall mummy friends, presumably Cleopatra???? who’s fortunes you are returning to her tomb?????
1997 Saturn: a faithful port of the arcade version, with an additional puzzle clearing challenge mode. Introduces the other Egyptian gods to the canon, as seen from the win screens of the challenge levels:
2001-2003 PS1: the only version to get an English release outside of collections: this is an enhanced port with all new art, remixed music, and an additional story to the Challenge Mode that now gives context to Patrako’s struggle, while also introducing the new antagonist, the Sphynx, to the canon.
In my opinion, it’s a poor port. The remixed music feels like a lot softer of an arrangement, which then puts the new sound effects to the forefront. The new SFX all sounds like they came from a slot machine, so it makes the overall Cleopatra Fortuning experience feel extremely cheap and tacky. Meanwhile, the new art for the game is very early digital Photoshop coloring and late 90s proto-moe anime style, which I don’t find nearly as charming as the original sprite art or the early 90s pre-moe style. As for the gameplay: I’m not sure if it’s my emulator, but it feels slow/unresponsive and not accurate to the original at all. I rate this the worst version of Cleopatra’s Fortune.
2001 Naomi/arcade: Wikipedia lists Cleopatra’s Fortune Plus as a port, but it’s totally a sequel in every sense!!! Developed by Altron, Cleopatra’s Fortune Plus has new art, new music, new mechanics, new characters, new voice acting, new everything!! Now gems are colored and tied to an element, which unlock a special attack piece that destroys the playfield in different ways. There’s also a Jewel Level meter which does ?????????? Every Egyptian god friend from previous versions return, plus Cleopatr’s Fortune Plus introduces a new villain to the canon, who harasses you by randomly throwing giant T-shaped blocks or a giant 3×3 block with her portrait on it into the playfield.
This version is definitely the apex of Cleopatra Fortune in terms of gameplay. It feels right and the addition of meter management for attack blocks adds a lot of variety to the otherwise monotonous gameplay loop, plus the random harassment by the new character adds a pleasant amount of chaos.
Unfortunately, this sequel also doubles down on the late 90s/early 00s proto-moe, with the art 100% being only for the audience who loved that look and also characterizing Patarko as a clumsy girl who constantly over pronounces DESUs after everything she says. The new mummies look great though, with the addition of a new crafter mummy who’s always on the right of the playfield, creating all the next puzzle pieces that’ll appear, which is a really nice and cute detail. Unfortunately, the game isn’t pixel art anymore, instead using painted backgrounds and cel shaded character animation. There’s also lots of new BGMs as well as another new remix of Shinin’ Queen, but it’s even softer than ever. Fortunately, the SFX doesn’t sound like a slot machine anymore, so it’s not all bad.
AND THAT’S IT. THE END OF CLEOPATRA’S FORTUNES.
Such a regret.
I wish the series returned to the first title’s early 90s cutesy anime look, with rocking Zuntata music. Also, it super bums me out that the only English version of the original arcade game is locked away in Taito Legends 2, with no rip of the rom that I could find. Not that the game rules really needs explanation, but I’d like to have it!!
AND NOW THE FORTUNE IS IN YOU
YOU ARE THE SHININ’ QUEEN
Let’s CLEOPATRA FORTUNE!!!!