Zuma’s Revenge! (XBLA) Review

I have to admit, I have spent many nights playing PopCap games such as Peggle, Peggle Nights, Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies, and Zuma.  Now I can add Zuma’s Revenge for the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) to that list and much like the original Zuma game for XBLA, Zuma’s Revenge is one of those addictive PopCap games that is just so hard to put down.

The game plays much the same as the first one, but adds a few new elements to spice things up. If you did not play the original Zuma it’s very simple: A line of balls rolls towards a pit, and you must shoot balls towards the chain of balls in an effort to match at least three of the same colours in order to clear them. Balls of the same colour in the line will “pull together” and away from the pit, buying you precious time, and also potential chain reactions.  So ball placement is the key and is ultimately where the challenge lies with this game.

In Zuma’s Revenge, you are given more choices in terms of modes of gameplay.  You start with Adventure Mode, which tells a story of how your frog character comes to the island and battles his way across its many levels, each with its own boss battle.  As you play, you unlock other modes.  First is the “Weekly Challenge” that is connected to Xbox Live which gives you a stage to play and ultimately attempt to beat for points and status rankings. There is also the devilishly hard “Iron Frog” mode that throws you into ten straight matches with no continues. Finally, there is a “Boss Rush” mode which pits you against all the bosses one after another.

The gameplay itself typically has your frog in one place, able to spin 360 degrees to shoot your balls from.  Sometimes though, you will be on a “rail” moving horizontally or vertically (similar to Luxor). Another new element is sometimes a stage will have two lily pads that you are able to jump back and forth on to get better access to areas of the stage. I found using a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard took a bit of getting used to as the controls seemed a bit touchy, leading to a few misplaced shots; however, overall it works well once you become accustomed to the controller and placing balls.

As you progress through the game, more coloured balls are added to the mix which makes things very difficult in later stages. The power ups the game offers you come as a welcome relief as they are certainly much needed at points as that chain of balls gets creeps closer to the pit. These power-ups vary from bomb balls which clear a small area of the screen, limited shots of lightning to zap certain balls away and my personal favorite which is a shot to remove one specific colour of ball from the whole stage.

Another nice element is being able to upgrade your frog by allocating coins you get from completing stages of “spirit animals”. There are four animals in total: a monkey which raises the score of floating bonus fruits you can shoot at and how often they appear; a cheetah that increases your firing speed; a rabbit which will increase your chances of power-ups spawning; and a hawk that raises your level score by a small percentage.

The ever-fashionable-to-casual-games “three star” system also appears in Zuma’s Revenge. You are awarded a coin for beating the stage, beating a set score, and another for doing it within a certain time limit. For those who need to collect them all, good luck because the later stages are very tough and seem almost impossible without a bit of luck. As a side note, you can press the Back button to “rage quit” and start over quickly.

The overall look of the game is very pleasing to the eyes, with bright colors and a style which should be pleasing to all. The Jungle theme works well with an Amazon/Aztec flair.  All in all, it is great looking game and stays true to the overall look and feel of the Zuma franchise. As you play you are treated to a nice tribal soundtrack which will have you grooving while shooting with your frog. All the levels have similar music but they change it up enough so that it doesn’t get too repetitive. The sound effects are top notch and rewarding which is nothing unusual for a PopCap game. The sounds of balls clacking and clearing for high combos will have you smiling until the end.

Zuma’s Revenge for the XBLA is simply a must buy for fans of PopCap games and of course for those that enjoyed the original Zuma game.  When you take into consideration how much content you get for 800 Microsoft Points you cannot go wrong.  Just be warned, Zuma’s Revenge will absolutely suck up your free time as this game is pure addictive entertainment.



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