[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”PopCap Games” publishers=”PopCap Games” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”July 11, 2012″]
PopCap Games develops some of the most addicting “casual” games on the market, gifting us with such gems as Bejeweled and Plants Vs Zombies. Another of their hit series, Zuma, is finally having its latest iteration coming to Xbox Live Arcade. Zuma’s Revenge is a sequel that does not stray far from the formula that made the original addictive to millions, around 17 million to be exact. Has the six years since the original Zuma released on XBLA been too long causing die-hard zuma-ites to move on to more robust puzzle titles? Even if it has, Zuma’s Revenge is tasked with bringing them back into the fold.
Not much has changed with Zuma’s Revenge. You play as a frog statue thingy that spits colored balls at a moving stream of colored balls in classic match 3 style gameplay. Match 3 or more and the balls are destroyed. Shoot a match between a gap in the stream and you score bonus points. When the stream reconnects and there is a match, even more bonus points are scored. It is simple gameplay that is fast paced and addicting. One change from the original Zuma that adds a good bit of strategy is that when you destroy a group with a power up, your frog’s next shot is that power up shot rather than it automatically going off. This lets you pick and choose where you want something to happen often setting up a chain of power ups that allow you to clear the board in record time.
Also new to Revenge are boss battles. Happening at the end of every 10 levels, your goal as a frog changes from making matches to hitting a boss on the opposite side of a stream of balls. To hit that boss, you must clear a gap in the stream long enough for a shot to go through. Each of the regular adventure levels have 3 goals; Completion, Score, and Time. Beat the goal and you score a gold medal. Later in adventure you can attribute these gold medals to a spirit animal and gain bonuses like shot speed or the rate of the appearance of power ups. It creates a RPG-like element that might make levels earlier in the game easier when you come back to them.
With 60 levels and boss fights, the single player portion is sizable and that doesn’t include the new modes. Boss Rush mode puts you through your paces of facing all the bosses in succession. Iron Frog mode gives you one life and 10 extremely hard levels to conquer. It brings the joys of repetitive old school 1 quarter to win it all gameplay to the modern era.
While there is no multiplayer aspect to Zuma’s Revenge, there are a couple of ways to have fun with your friends. Weekly Challenge mode presents a single player level each week for you to play and try and pass your friends high scores. There are also 70+ leaderboards to compare with your friends and most of them are right there on the level select and level score screens so you have goal going into the levels.
Zuma’s Revenge only has one real issue but that is tied to the core gameplay. While it is addicting, sometimes skill is just not enough to be successful. Strategy is severely hampered by the randomness of the stream of balls and the color that comes out of your frog. This is an issue that plagues most match 3 puzzle games. It only becomes blazingly obvious when trying to achieve a time goal and going through a string of 10 games where your time is two minutes or more over and then randomly beating the time by 30 seconds or more.
Zuma’s Revenge might not be much of an upgrade in terms of gameplay but new levels, modes, and features with the addition of leaderboards out the wazoo is a great update to the puzzle classic. People love to define games as hardcore, casual, core or whatever and most would deem Zuma’s Revenge as a casual game but it is one of the few titles that cross all demographics and ensnares gamers in its addicting fast paced gameplay.