Also available on: N/A
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games
Release date: September 15, 2009
A good game doesn't necessarily need a monster budget and a truckload of gameplay gimmicks in order to be a success; in fact, some of the best games are merely simple concepts that are executed well enough to achieve classic status. The puzzle genre in particular is one that, more often than not, utilises a simple formula that leaves the player hooked and unable to stop playing until the goal is achieved. Take Tetris, the aim of the game is to make lines out of the collection of shapes that fall down the screen; the conclusion is a simple, uncomplicated, addictive masterpiece.
In this respect, Zuma is right up there. Lots of coloured orbs litter the screen, and the player has to get rid of them by shooting out orbs of the same colour and making the trail disappear; doesn't sound too tricky, but when the clock is ticking and the stronghold is almost breached, the player turns into a bumbling wreck, with only the best of us able to keep calm and make every shot count. The sequel, Zuma's Revenge, doesn't make a whole lot of changes to the formula, but continues the series' now trademark colourful and addictive action.
Perhaps the game's biggest fault is that fans of the original will feel instantly at home with the action, because the core gameplay hasn't changed a bit. Players take control of a frog that can spin in a circle and shoot coloured orbs out of its mouth. A lengthy snake of different coloured orbs gradually makes its way around a track towards the goal, which if breached signals failure for the player. The only way to stop the trail from reaching the goal is to shoot the orbs at the corresponding parts of the snake, with a collection of three or more of the same colour leaving a hole in the snake until the gap rejoins and continues to move. If orbs of the same colour surround the ones you manage to make disappear, then they join up in a flash and start a chain combo. It's not difficult, but it is a great deal of fun.
The changes to the 2003 original are fairly minor, and while none of them really add too much to the game, they don't ruin it either. Fans of the original will notice a number of new power-ups, the frog now able to blast through a collection of unwanted orbs with the tri-shot, eliminate a number of single spheres with the laser, as well as the lightning shot, which gets rid of all the balls of one colour. All of the old power-ups are present, with the handy slow down and reverse trail still helping to bail you out when the snake looks set to reach the end. Some levels introduce multiple lily pads, which have to be traversed in order to get into prime shooting positions, and for when there are multiple trails of orbs all heading towards different goals.
Perhaps the biggest addition to the game comes in the form of the adventure mode's boss battles. The basic challenge of these battles is to shoot the boss a number of times until his energy bar is depleted. In what plays like a 2D shooter, the frog moves from side to side at the bottom of the screen, and must avoid incoming missiles while trying to stop the trail of orbs from breaching the stronghold, as well as making enough room in the chain to get a clean shot at the boss. Different elements are added in later battles, as various obstructions give each battle more variety while making things much more difficult for the player. The boss battles are all enjoyable encounters, which break up the usual action somewhat and give each stage a more exciting conclusion, as well as some welcome variety and a meaty bit of action.
While the adventure mode contains a healthy 60 levels and six boss battles, there are also challenge modes which test the player's combo skills. In the challenge mode players must reach a certain score before the time runs out, which can be extremely exciting when ten seconds appear on the clock but you’re still a few combos away from reaching your goal. Iron Frog mode has also been added, which seems to be aimed at the hardcore fans of the original, because it gets extremely difficult with almost no room for error. PopCap has also added Heroic Frog mode, which is simply the adventure mode's levels, but slightly harder. Much like the rest of the game, none of the modes are groundbreaking, but they do give players an incentive to come back and test their mettle after the adventure mode has been conquered.
Any other changes to the game, whose action takes place in six parts of a tropical island, are purely aesthetic. Unlike some rather bland puzzle titles out there, Zuma's Revenge utilises pleasing, colourful visuals and high resolution graphics. It's certainly one of the most vibrant puzzle games out there and the tropical theme combined with the music and the host of coloured orbs really gives the game a good atmosphere that makes the playing experience even more engrossing.
Zuma's Revenge will not win any awards for being an innovative sequel, but it still contains enough to warrant recommending. Fans of the original will no doubt view this as an expansion or some extra levels, but newcomers will experience addictive and enjoyable action in what is undoubtedly the best version of the game. It may not be that original, but Zuma's Revenge is a blast to play that will suck you in and shoot you out.
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