Zuma (PlayStation 3) review
"Zuma is a another budget priced puzzle/'casual' title from Popcap Games. Just like Bejewelled, it's all about making groups of the same colour disappear, but this time it's balls that you're popping, not gems. Please note that, throughout this review, we are avoiding any balls-related puns, because they're, well, balls."
Zuma is a another budget priced puzzle/'casual' title from Popcap Games. Just like Bejewelled, it's all about making groups of the same colour disappear, but this time it's balls that you're popping, not gems. Please note that, throughout this review, we are avoiding any balls-related puns, because they're, well, balls.
You may have played a version of Zuma before, whether it's on your PC, iPod Touch/iPhone, or Xbox 360, and here it's pretty much the same. You use your left analogue stick to aim your coloured ball (either blue, yellow, green or red) at an always-moving line of balls, with the aim to match three or more of the same colour to make them disappear. If, after you've destroyed some balls, the two resulting ends are the same colour, the ends will magnetise together, pulling the furthest line back to the rear and, as a result, further away from the hole into which they are trying to drop through. Magnetising is particularly useful if there are three or more of the same colour being pulled together, which can lead to chains if you're either very skilful or, more likely, very lucky. If the line gets to the hole, you lose and have to start the level again. To beat a level, you must fill a bar in the top right screen to stop more balls appearing, then clear the screen; the quicker you fill the bar, the easier it is to complete the level.
There are a few power-ups to help you along, such as Rewind, which moves all the balls back a certain distance, Slow slows them down, while Bomb blows some up and Accuracy makes the balls you shoot move faster. They all run out after a short time and, whilst accuracy is the least desirable, they're ultimately useful in their own ways. Especially if used to make a gap in the line of balls to shoot through and destroy a line behind it, offering bonus points for the shot which is proportionate to the size of the gap. The smaller the gap, the bigger the bonus.
The game looks alright. It doesn't have the HD shine that Bejewelled has, with the visuals looking a bit dull and flat in comparison, but they do their job well enough. Another graphical oddity is that the actual game is in standard definition, with a border making up the difference, which, as well as being a little ugly, can make it hard to play properly on a smaller screen if you're further away. Still, Popcap's games are not known for their graphical power, but more for their addictiveness, of which Zuma has no short supply. Play throughs can be surprisingly intense as you try your absolute best to halt the line of balls and buy a few more seconds. It's surprising how quickly playing can eat up time; we missed numerous dinners whilst we were playing and if that's not a sign of an addictive game, nothing is.
Two modes come with the game, Adventure and Gauntlet. Adventure sees you going on a, you guessed it, adventure, which is more of an excuse to play various levels in a particular order than an adventure, whilst Gauntlet sees you practising levels you've finished in Adventure to 'master' them (ie, finish them as quickly as possible). Finishing a level in 12 seconds from a few well placed shots is a great feeling, one that you might not expect to get from a game such as this. There are four difficulties in Gauntlet: Rabbit, Eagle, Jaguar and Son of Sun, each of which unlocks when you finish the difficulty below.
There's online leaderboards for Adventure mode and for each individual level on Gauntlet mode, so if you're into bettering your peers you can't go too far wrong, though getting to the top requires nothing short of god-like skill and, just like Bejewelled, the game comes with trophies and custom soundtrack options for when you get bored of the game music (which will happen).
Overall, whether the game is worth the asking price or not depends entirely on whether or not you like this kind of game and/or whether you've bought it elsewhere. Whichever way you slice it, even the budget price feels a little bit expensive, especially since the game has only two modes and leans heavily on the appeal of the leaderboards for replayability.
Freelance review by Gareth Chadwick (July 15, 2009)
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