Review - Zuma's Revenge

Zuma - if you haven't played it - is a puzzle game where a winding row of marbles are moving towards a stone skull. Your goal is to stop them from reaching it by firing like-colored marbles from a stone frog in the center of the screen so that groups of three or more marbles of the same color are lined up, where by they explode and the remaining marbles role back to fill the gap. With some strategically aimed shots you can create chain reactions that garner you more points and more time to direct your next shot. Some marbles grant special powers that are activated when destroyed - there are those that create a larger explosion which destroys marbles in a radius around them, some that slowdown the marbles' advancement or downright rolls them back a short distance.

Almost six years after PopCap released this classic they're back with the sequel Zuma's Revenge. The original is one of Popcap's more well know and successful games and it has been released on a large number of plaforms and a Deluxe version is available on XBLA and PSN. Zuma was addictive and challenged players reflexes as well as their ability for tactical planning - like and game of it's ilk should.

So what new features have PopCap put into Revenge to trump it's predecessor? As it turns out, not much. Sure Zuma's Revenge is a good looking and slick game, there are a few new power-ups like: Laser (let's you zap away four unwanted marbles), Lightning (destroys all marbles of a given color) and Tri-Shot (a "shotgun"-type blast that destroys a large group of marbles). The game includes the main "Adventure" mode (60 levels to beat in order) there's the "Challenge" (70-levels where your goal is to gain as many points as possible in three minutes), Heroic Frog (replay the Adventure levels on a higher difficulty) and Iron Frog (a set of extra difficult levels that you must beat with just one life).

Another addition is the boss fights at the end of each of the six stages of "Adventure" mode. In these - like in most games - your goal is to find the boss' weakness and then exploit it to win. This basically involves moving back and forth (on these stages your stone frog is on a rail instead of fixed in the center of the screen) to avoid it's attacks and then find the right tactic to hit it - either directly by knocking marbles out of the way and then aiming for the boss, or by indirect hits by exploding marbles. The bosses are relatively simple but a welcome break from the standard levels, something I would have liked to see more of. With the boss levels it's apparent that the main Zuma concept is flexible enough to experiment with - so it's a shame that PopCap has chosen to play it so safe with this sequel.

If you've played Zuma there's not much here that you haven't already seen, you can happily keep playing Zuma (Deluxe) and not feel like you're missing much. If however you've yet to experience this great action-puzzler Zuma's Revenge is a great place to jump in - well worth at least trying.

My Score: 7 of 10

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