If you’ve ever played games like Bejeweled, Peggle, and Plants vs Zombies then you should be able to figure out exactly what sort of experience to expect from Zuma’s Revenge, as it is made by the same developer that made the games mentioned above, PopCap Games.
Zuma’s Revenge is an intuitive, fast-paced tile-matching puzzle game. It is easy to get into, easy to keep playing, and very hard to beat and master. How addictive it is doesn’t always translate to how fun or good of an experience it is to play, anyway, and you won’t always have a great time with this game. Still, it’s a good amount of fun, so let me break it down.
Here’s what you do in this game: you control a frog and sit somewhere in the screen, from where you spit colored balls at other colored balls that move in a row, spiraling around you in different patterns until they reach a hole. If you match 3 of the same color, they disappear, and if they reach the hole, you lose. That’s really all you need to know to start playing.
There are a few more mechanics that make the game more interesting in the long run, however. Just like Tetris makes it harder and harder for you to survive as time goes on, so does this game make sure to increase the difficulty of rounds the longer you survive in them, and it does this by simply adding different types of colored balls and increasing the speed at which they move toward the hole.
There is also a chain mechanic, in which multiple sets of balls get destroyed one right after the other, as long as they are correctly colored and positioned around the first set of balls getting destroyed. I suppose the idea is that balls of the same colored are magnetically attracted to one another, so when a gap is formed between two strings of balls, the string that is nearer to the hole gets quickly impulsed toward the back, eventually colliding with the original string of balls (this also causes the original string of balls to lose momentum for a little while, giving you some much needed time and space to breathe during tense moments).
There are also a few power-ups that can help you get better scores and survive longer if you learn how to use them effectively. Some of these include a bomb that explodes balls in its proximity, a laser that allows you to destroy any individual pieces as you like (and a bigger one that destroys all the balls on the screen of a particular color), a hand that slows down the movement of the balls, and a particularly useful item that makes all the balls on the screen move back a few spaces, giving you some extra time to work with.
In addition, there are different positions for your frog to take, depending on the stage. Some stages force you to spit the balls from a single position, while others allow you to move between 2 or 3 positions at any given time, depending on what is more convenient for you. There are also stages in which your frog moves along a line at the bottom, and can only spit balls directly above him (this is also the setup for boss stages, in which you must be able to dodge their attacks).
It’s pretty fun in general, and though the difficulty of the game spikes quite a bit, it’s addictive enough that you’ll keep coming back to try and master whatever challenge you’re stuck on.
For a $20 game, Zuma’s Revenge is pretty well-packed with content.
There are 5 game modes: Adventure Mode, Challenge Mode, Iron Frog, Daily Dose, and VS Mode. In Adventure mode, there are 60 stages and 6 bosses to clear. Each stage is cleared by scoring points by destroying the endless waves of colored balls until a “Zuma bar” is filled, at which point the balls stop appearing. Once you destroy the last remaining balls you can advance to the next level. Clearing the bosses is a different deal, as you must try to hit the floating bosses by spitting at them directly. To do this, you must first destroy the balls that are on the way, and then quickly spit a ball through the opening and at the boss. Of course, not all bosses are fought the same way, as some will have slightly different requirements and movement or attack patterns. You can lose either the stages or the bosses by letting the colored balls advance too far along their path.
Challenge Mode plays differently: you have 70 stages (which are unlocked as you play Adventure Mode), and each one consists of reaching a “target” score (and optionally an “Ace” score, which is considerably more difficult) within two minutes. The trick to doing it is by destroying certain shining colored balls which increase your score multiplier. The more of these shining balls that you destroy the faster that your score increases, making for some good escalating tension as the 2 minutes come close to running out.
Iron Frog is unlocked after beating Adventure Mode, which I didn’t quite get to because this game is pretty damn hard. It’s going to take me several more hours before I can finish Adventure Mode, and right now I’m just more interested in getting the Ace scores in the early Challenge Mode stages. At any rate, this is apparently the hardest game mode, as it requires you beat 10 consecutive difficult levels without losing a single life. If you do lose a life, you must start back from the start. I’m not sure I could take that punishment any time soon.
Daily Dose is a nice little addition that, as far as I know, isn’t present in the PC version of the game. The idea is to play the three sub-modes of the game and collect a piece of the Zuma calendar (a mockup of the Mayan or Aztec calendar). Every day you will get 3 new games to play (one of each sub-mode), for a total of 15 calendar pieces to collect. After every 5th day, however, your calendar will reset, forcing you to start from scratch again, though of course the game records how many full calendars you have completed, and whether you have done so with the normal target or with the much harder Ace target. The 3 sub-modes are: Astro, in which you must survive ten waves of balls as they try to overwhelm you; Blitz, in which you must reach a high-score with the help of power-ups unlocked through Adventure mode; and Boss, in which you fight a random boss, and which is unlocked when beating Adventure mode.
VS Mode is just local multiplayer (no internet connection involved), and it requires both players to have their own copy of Zuma’s Revenge. Within VS Mode there are VS Battle, Survival, and Score Attack sub-modes. VS Battle consists of making sure the colored balls overrun your oponent before they overrun you; Survival is the same but with the addition of combo and chain attacks, which create obstacles for your opponent; Score Attack is just a race for the high-score in a timed match. I didn’t get to try this game’s multiplayer myself, but I expect it would make for some good fun as long as you’re playing with someone that matches your own skill.
Overall, you can easily spend dozens of hours playing this, which I suppose is typical for other PopCap games like Plants vs Zombies or Peggle (which our own superstar administrator and editor-in-chief Menashe had an addiction with, apparently).
Visuals and Audio:
There really isn’t much to say here. The visuals are easy on the eyes, have a bit of charm, and portray effectively the information you require. There is an option called ‘colorblind assist’ that should really just be called ‘better color-coding’. What this option basically does is replace Green and Violet balls (which can be difficult to distinguish from Yellow and Blue balls) with grey and black balls. I’m not even colorblind, and this makes the game infinite more intuitive and enjoyable, so I recommend players turn it on even if they think they have a superhuman eye.
The music is likewise functional and slightly catchy, even memorable. Still nothing to write home about, however. It’s just functional, and I don’t think I can say anything else.
At the end of the day this is a very tried and true game, and not exactly an exemplary one (I would save that kind of adjective for games like Lumines, Meteos, or Puzzle League). However, it is still a lot of fun and an easy addiction, so much that for its $20 (North America) price I can say it’s easily worth getting.