We’re hooked on yet another casual game from Popcap, this time it is Zuma’s Revenge! Perhaps not as addicting as the original Peggle was, the challenge factor and game design keeps bringing us back for more. Those who have played the original Zuma, as we did on our Xbox 360, will find themselves right at home with the sequel.
This is your classic “marble popper” style game with expanded features from the original, with over 60 new levels, mini-bosses and additional modes to bring up the replay value. A good casual game that is priced at USD $19.95 must have great replay value in order to bring gamers the worthwhile experience. In replay value, you be willing to shell out the twenty bucks for this title.
Zuma’s Revenge! looks amazing from a graphical standpoint and the sound is, by far, the best we’ve heard in a casual game including all titles in Popcap library of casual games. The tiki theme lends itself well to the Polynesian tribal music, bringing you deeply into the experience; it felt like something we’d hear in a restaurant or on a Hawaiian Luau. The games graphics are highly polished and glossy with explosive effects that rival that of Bejeweled Twist.
Unlike Bejeweled Twist, this game doesn’t stretch far from its roots, sticking with the traditional style of game play with added power-up’s including Lightening, Laser and Tri-Shot with all new stage designs. Each new power-up changes the strategies that can be applied to the game board and the addition of lily-pad hopping in a select few levels ramps up difficulty and encourages a bit of creative thinking.
The first twenty level in Adventure Mode will help grow your familiarity with the game and we found them to be moderately challenging and by the 35th level we experienced the need to restart many of the stages as they became much harder to beat. To bring on difficulty, you must hit checkpoints throughout the game play in order to restart at key points, failing to reach the checkpoint means you’ll be “perfecting” some of the levels you recently defeated again. We did find ourselves becoming experts at some levels we once found challenging in order to reach the checkpoint on our second (or sometimes third) attempt. Oddly enough we never became bored of restarting stages or frustrated at the loss…it was a learning experience which made each additional stage easier to clear.
The Adventure Mode is broken into a series of stages where you’ll battle your way up to the final mini-boss to clear the set. The mini-boss addition was well done and keeps with the theme of the game while breaking out a more “old school” style of defeating end bosses. You’ll have to learn their pattern, avoid their fire and be ready for them to ramp up their attacks as they take damage, very much like a traditional Super Mario or Zelda title of old.
As you progress through your adventure you’ll break open the Challenge Mode where you can complete a long series of challenges, 70 challenges to be exact. Challenges will give you a goal to reach and a goal to ‘ace’ the stage, reaching your goal allows you to unlock the next challenge and acing the level allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment and casual gaming satisfaction. The Challenge mode will have you racing to build up points to finish unique stage within a time limit (can you say Bejeweled Blitz mode!?). You’ll want to become a top scorer or find yourself trying many challenge modes again… and again.
Heroic Frog Mode, opens when you beat Adventure and allows you to really test your marble popping skills. If you’re really serious, take on the gauntlet with Iron Frog mode. Popcap didn’t just re-release a graphically enhanced marble popper clone, they put in the time and energy to bring a serious casual game to the market that can satisfy both the beginner and most highly advanced gamer, even for those with color blindness (yes, there is a color blind setting so color blind folks can play too.) They didn’t have to add a color blind feature but this shows dedicating in covering all market segments of the casual game industry. They won’t stop until they dominate all corners of the casual gaming space.
In our opinion, Zuma’s Revenge! is the culmination of Popcap’s dominance in the casual game industry. While Zuma was a great game, their latest title shows a huge leap in maturity and learning. It has the difficulty and intensity of Venice, the mode selections of Peggle, the stage and boss battle feature straight out of Bookworm Adventure with the sound, graphics and overall polished beauty of Bejeweled Twist all with the underlying structure of classic Zuma.
Popcap could have simply pushed out another marble popping clone and made a ton of money, but they went the extra mile to make sure gamers and reviewers would have nothing to complain about in Zuma’s Revenge! After all, they’re putting their name on the title and we’ve yet to find a title developed by Popcap that doesn’t have the passion and inspiration to change the casual game industry.