Review: Zuma’s Revenge
There’s a lot to be said for introducing amphibians onto an island, take the Cane Toad for example. Introduced to Australia from Hawaii in the mid 1930′s to control insects, it has bred and destroyed its way across the antipodean country. This leads me on to Zuma’s Revenge, Popcap’s foray into the XBLA gaming arena with its popular colour matching series. You are ‘frog’, washed up on an island and immediately disliked by the locals. The similarities don’t end there either as ‘frog’ rains down the destruction on the Tiki god bosses that rule in each region of the game. This is essentially a like-for-like port of the PC title of the same name, which I have to admit to having played in the past, so I knew pretty much knew what I was getting into. It took a little getting used to, using the joystick on the controller, which can be frustratingly inaccurate at times.
The initial menu looks simple, and it’s not long before you’re thrust into the action in Adventure Mode, which is the only available option for you from the start. The gameplay is simple too, match sets of 3 or more coloured balls and clear them from the track as it moves along to certain oblivion. Let the string of balls reach the gaping hole and it’s game over. You earn gold spirit coins by fulfilling three criteria, of which, Time is by far and away the most difficult to obtain.
The game starts off with basic colours, with more being added in as you progress, and sometimes it can be slightly difficult to make out the difference between the purple & the blue. This is usually due to the fact that you’re gawking at the lush HD backdrop.
Each set of levels has a separate theme, which the background follows throughout that individual set. These link nicely to the elemental Tiki Boss at the end of the set and I was particularly impressed with the vibrance of the fire levels and the water effects in the others. What is particularly impressive is the fact that they’ve packed the lush background, the travelling balls, various power-ups and the animated frog together and the animation runs very smoothly indeed. Did I mention this was in full HD?
The audio compliments the game nicely, with ambient music to suit the region and the usual pops and bangs when you burst the balls. There were a few glitches in between levels, where the game saves as you progress through, or you upgrade the Spirit Animals that help you along your way. It in no way spoils the game or gameplay but the jerk between selecting it and starting the game is noticeable and was fairly irritating, but I may be being pedantic here.
As you progress through the game, you get to unlock a further three game modes, Iron Frog, Boss Rush and the Xbox 360 exclusive Weekly Challenge. For anyone who plays Zuma Blitz on Facebook, yes, it is exactly like this, but in HD. Boss Rush takes each end of region boss and fires them at you in turn with the object being, don’t fail, and is unlocked after you’ve defeated the last boss in Adventure Mode. Iron Frog gives you one life & ten levels to conquer. The Weekly Challenge is unlocked after you beat the region 2 boss, Iron Frog after region 4 has been floored. These give the game some longevity, as with just the 69 levels in the Adventure mode, a little under 4 and half hours, I’d finished the mode and would have been looking for further entertainment. If I had one gripe it would be that some of the Time targets at the end of the level seem a little on the tight side. A level that’s just taken you 3 minutes to clear, for example has a time target of 1:55 to earn the spirit animal coin.
Overall, I like Zuma’s Revenge, it has that pick-up and playability that you come to expect from Popcap, even if the 800 MS Points it costs is a little on the expensive side. The visuals are lush and the gameplay is smooth but it’s just not long enough. More levels would have been great. It’s the only wart on this frog’s back.
Review: Zuma’s Revenge Results
What we liked:
Easy to pick up and play.
Stunning HD visuals.
4 Game modes.
What we disliked:
Achievement notifications can get in the way of the balls.
Spirit coin time goals are sometimes unrealistic.
At only 69 levels, it's just too short.