Zuma’s Revenge



Review: Zuma’s Revenge!

In a way, it’s safe to call Zuma’s Revenge! the real Crazy Frog. Not that there’s an insufferable cartoon amphibian buzzing around on a bike and making ridiculous noises, thank goodness. But there is a frog, and it’s definitely a bit crazy.

As the frog, you shoot coloured balls from your mouth, and slowly break down a string of other coloured balls before it reaches a trap and ends your game. Fire a green ball at two other green balls, and they disappear. Fire it at a huge chain of green balls, and they all disappear in a delightful explosion. Fire it at a chain of green balls, of which one is a power-up, and enjoy whatever wonderful ability said power-up temporarily grants you.

I particularly like the laser. It zaps away all the coloured balls you could ever hope to zap. To start with, you use it uncompromisingly, seeing how many balls you can destroy with a quick click, forgetting about matching three of the same colour, in as short a time as possible. But then you realise you can use it more strategically, setting up longer colour chains by taking out the balls that separate them. Elsewhere, there’s also an accuracy aid, power-ups that slow down or reverse the otherwise continually rolling balls, and a bloody great three-way cannon, among others.

New balls, please.

Its sense of humour is adorably barmy. PopCap know how to inject a hefty dose of silly comedy into their games, and it shines through in Zuma’s Revenge!, with quick one-liners punctuating the action between levels and raising more than a few smiles. It’s not as regularly laugh-out-loud amusing as certain other PopCap works – it’ll be hard for them to top Plants vs. Zombies, for example – but it’s more than enough to add some much-needed character to an otherwise straight-forward game.

Straight-forward but cripplingly addictive, of course. It is effectively a match-three game, and comes with all the “just one more level” baggage that the genre is associated with. It understands casual gaming perfectly: it’s all about drop-in-and-play accessibility mixed with high-score compulsion. Intend to spend five minutes with the game, and you’ll emerge an hour later, realising you’ve still not done the washing up. Whether your usual vice is Bejeweled or Gears of War, there’ll be little surprise when you find Zuma’s Revenge! eating up a hefty portion of your free time.

There’s the feeling it’s not new enough, certainly. Sequel to 2003’s Zuma, and its enhanced re-release Zuma Deluxe, it adds a couple of new elements without ever really pushing into being its own unique experience. Boss battles now exist, and usually involve chipping away at a row of colours in order to create a gap to shoot the baddie through. They drive your journey around the game world, taunting and teasing as you draw ever closer to each one. The visuals are improved over the original, adding fancy particle effects and higher resolution support. And there are a couple of new game modes, one of which providing a whole new set of specifically designed levels and both of which ramping up the difficulty level.

Yeah, its sense of humour is pretty insane.

It would have been nice to see a couple of changes to the core structure of the game, just to shake things up a little. The current formula works, of course, but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that this is Zuma with a couple of new features rather than a fully fledged sequel. And the main game is never quite challenging enough – not until the end, at least. It was a good few hours before I had to try a level multiple times. PopCap are going for accessibility, and that’s a great thing, but it’s perhaps a mistake to assume casual players aren’t looking for something to test their skill.

No matter. What Zuma’s Revenge! lacks in innovative features or teeth-grinding challenge, it more than makes up for with its ridiculously compulsive gameplay and irreverent PopCap personality. It’s an addictive, charming and often amusing game that understands how to appeal to the broadest market possible. Jump into Zuma’s Revenge! for a few minutes, and prepare to emerge hours later. It’s hard to feel angry at PopCap for sapping your life away when their methods are this entertaining.

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