Over the years, Popcap Games has made a name for themselves with a large catalog of casual games that are full of excellent, addicting gameplay. From the instantly recognizable Plants Vs. Zombies to puzzlers Bejeweled and Peggle, Popcap is renowned for their expertise in the causal market. Now for the first time ever, one of Popcap’s most popular titles, Zuma’s Revenge, has made it’s way to the Xbox 360, with colorful HD graphics, online leaderboards, new gameplay modes and more. Does it live up to Popcap’s reputation?
In Zuma’s Revenge, players take control of a projectile-shooting amphibian as he attempts to discover the secret behind a mysterious island. In order to do so, the frog has to destroy a large number of rolling multi-colored balls (or stones) before they reach the end of the stage, or else he loses and be devoured. In order to survive, players must shoot balls of the same color at the rolling orbs in order to cause them to explode when three or more of the same color are grouped, which then gives points that work to put a halt to the steady stream of incoming balls. Once a player eliminates all of the rolling stones from the playing field, they clear the stage and move on to the next one. While the gameplay may look and sound simple, it’s actually pretty deep, and loads of fun.
To assist the player in taking on the ever flowing stream of incoming balls, players have a number of powerups that can help turn the tides. By destroying a cluster of balls that hold a randomly generated powerup, players can use their new found abilities to improve their game or get them out of serious jams. Amongst them exist point multipliers that improve the players score and powerups that slow down the stones, rewind the stream, increase shot speed, grant the player laser eyes to zap stones, shoot three indestructible stones simultaneously that can tear down anything in their path, and even allow the use of a bomb that can destroy entire sections of stones. All the powerups featured in the game are balanced and fun to use, and proper use of them is the key to surviving the more difficult levels.
In order to keep things interesting, stages come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with the stones set path featuring different snaky curves and turns. The stages also feature the occasional alteration of a game mechanic. While most stages in the game feature the amphibian firmly planted in a spot and is allowed to spin a full 360 degrees to shoot, some stages allow the frog to jump from one spot to the next to take shots at previously inaccessible stones. On other stages, the frog is placed on a rail and is only allowed to move left and right. These variations to the gameplay are welcome additions, and not to mention also pretty challenging.
There are four game modes in Zuma’s Revenge: Adventure, Weekly Challenge, Iron Frog and Boss Rush. Each offers different challenges for the player to take on.
In Adventure, players take on 60+ stages in a story-based mode that take place in different locations on a island. By clearing Adventure stages, players can earn tokens that can be spent on four Spirit Animals that are unlocked as the player progresses. Each animal offers a bonus to the gameplay, such as greatly enhancing the appearance of powerups and fruits (fruits grant points if collected), improve shoot speed and level score. These bonuses can greatly assist players in need of a boost in the more difficult stages.
After every ten stages, a boss character also appears to challenge the player to a duel. These bosses typically must be shot by stones in order to be defeated, but many come with a gimmick to make this task difficult, such as one boss possessing a shield, or having to be must be shot by a special laser. By carefully observing the bosses and learning their patterns, these challenging foes came defeated in order to progress to the next area of the island. I really enjoyed these sections, as they were fun and quick sections that made me utilize different tactics to win, and were never too difficult or annoying.
In Weekly Challenge, players can take on a stage in order to post the best score. Stages can range from simple to difficult, and as the title states, are changed weekly. It’s a fun mode that challenges players to master the stage in order to make a dent on the impressive leaderboard scores.
In Iron Frog, players must take on a series of ten stages without failing even once. It’s a test of true skill, requiring the proper use of powerups, combos, quick reflexes and even a bit of luck to clear the whole thing in one attempt. It’s a addicting challenge and one of my favorite modes (probably because I haven’t cleared it yet).
Last but not least is Boss Rush, a mode where players can take on all the bosses one after the other in order to post the quickest completion time. Eight bosses await to test the players skills, and players can restart as much as they’d like at the cost of more time.
When it comes down to it, Zuma’s Revenge is one awesome game. Full to the brim with great puzzle gameplay, weekly challenges and a online leaderboard to motivate players to post their best scores and times, the fun never stops. Zuma’s Revenge is as perfect as they come. I won’t be putting this one down for a while. I’m addicted.