Zuma’s Revenge! Packs Solid Content-filled Puzzler

Posted: March 9, 2012 in Puzzle

The word “sequel” tends to bring up mixed emotions for most of us.  Whether we’re talking about movies (e.g. Ghostbusters, Lethal Weapon, Harold and Kumar) or video games (Super Mario, Metal Gear Solid), tinkering with the original winning formula is a gamble.  On the other hand, mention Zuma and you likely have a groundswell of fans.  PopCap’s faithful port of Zuma’s Revenge won’t change that rabid fan base and delivers a solid if not overly ambitious offering.

Aside from the inconsequential storyline that has a decidedly South Pacific theme, Zuma’s Revenge is a combination match-3 marble shooter with a number of power-ups and boss fights.  The objective is to match three or more of the same colored balls and prevent the chain of balls from reaching the skull at the end of the path.  The shooting mechanism involves a stone frog or toad (whatever reptile you prefer) that can be rotated 360 degrees and launches colored balls.

Zuma’s Revenge certainly doesn’t lack in content with 6 islands for a total of 60 levels with difficulty levels ranging from easy to seriously hard.  There are also two primary modes of play: Adventure and Challenge.  Adventure mode takes players through the levels in the 6 islands while Challenge mode offers timed gameplay with completed levels unlocked in Adventure with the overall objective of beating a pre-set challenge score or beating the higher ace score.

Like the original, Zuma’s Revenge offers the usual power-up balls.

Bomb—destroys balls in its path

Rewind—rolls balls backwards

Slowdown—temporarily slows ball speed

Lightning—destroys every ball of the target color

Tri-Shot—fires 3 balls at once

Laser—destroys balls with pinpoint accuracy

Unlike the original, there are 6 boss fights at the end of each island which add a fun if not challenging dynamic to gameplay.  The boss fights involve chains of balls that act as a barrier to the boss.  The goal here is to clear a path by matching balls and shooting balls at the boss in order to destroy him.  Of course, the boss and his assistant villains fire back, and you have the added caveat of preventing the balls from reaching the end of the path or it’s doomsday for your little amphibian friend.  Beyond the boss fights, you can also collect fruit the randomly appear that boost score totals.

PopCap’s games have high production values, and Zuma’s Revenge is no different.  The animation and the vibrant graphics look great and run smoothly on the iPad.  The soundtrack with its Polynesian theme is lively, but for some, it can become annoying after a while.  One area that may be disappointing for some is that the islands all look similar.  Beyond the variety in path and level design, they all feel and look the same so don’t expect too much on that front.

The gameplay is typical Zuma and delivers an engaging and fast-paced experience.  There’s a bit of skill and timing involved, and the control mechanism is relatively accurate.  Tapping the spot to where you want to launch a ball works well on the screen, while tapping on your frog allows you to cycle through different color balls.  The 360 degree rotating mechanism also works smoothly and fans and newbies alike should have no problems with them.  Later levels allow players to move the frog from one spot to another and this accomplished simply by tapping the spot.

The one hitch that I did come across involves paths where the frog slides back and forth.  Because the motions are similar within a limited space, it’s easy to accidentally cycle through balls when the intent is to move the frog or even shoot and vice versa.  In other words, switching among the different functions with the tap controls can be temperamental, but definitely not a deal breaker.

This part is intended for those new to Zuma (hey, not everyone’s on Facebook either)…having played a number of PopCap titles, Zuma’s Revenge does have those intangibles, aka charm that for example, Peggle does or the personality of a Plants vs. Zombies.  Beyond the frog and the occasional villains, there aren’t quirky characters or even much of a storyline.  As mentioned, the gameplay is terrific and but if you like a dose of ambiance with your puzzle, you may be disappointed.

Zuma’s Revenge is a fun marble shooting, match-3 puzzler with tons of content and fast-paced gameplay.  The variety of power-ups and boss fights add to a solid offering that fans of the original will love.  What the game lacks in personality is successfully offset by the challenging and replay value that works well on the iOS.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (solid, challenging gameplay with lots of content and replay value; controls are intuitive but they can be temperamental; smooth animation though the islands look similar; lacks a bit of personality compared to other PopCap titles; no GameCenter support)


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