Leave it to PopCap Games to create a surprisingly simple game that is so much fun to play. The Zuma franchise goes back to 2003, and many similar games have shown up on iOS in the meantime. But that doesn’t take away from the signature PopCap polish of Zuma’s Revenge– colorful environments, a sense of humor, and cute characters. In short, once you start, this is a game you will be playing for a while.
The conceit of Zuma’s Revenge is rather simple. You control a frog who spits colored balls in any direction you choose. Surrounding the frog is a twisting lane of other colored balls, starting in one corner of the screen and heading towards a golden skull. More and more balls are added to the line, pushing them ever closer to the end. If there are too many balls in the lane, they will end up in the mouth of the skull cave, and that’s game over.
It’s not polite to spit.
Your job is to direct the frog to shoot colored balls at the others, matching three of the same color to make them disappear. Once all the balls have been matched, the game is won. However, once you get further into the game, the path surrounding your frog will become increasingly twisty and contain tunnels. Never fear, though, because matching certain balls grants the frog a temporary power-up, freezing the movement of the line or even reversing it. One power-up allows your frog to shoot several cannonballs, demolishing all balls in his path.
Randomly shooting balls at the nearest matching color won’t win you many points, so the trick to Zuma’s Revenge is a cool head. Plan out your shots, and use power-ups wisely. At times, a row of balls will wind up in front of another row. Whenever you match three of a kind, there is a temporary gap in the line. Using those moments to hit the next row can really help.
Locked and loaded.
There is a rudimentary story in Zuma’s Revenge that involves the frog battling evil tikis on a strange tropical island. The levels are divided into five sections of the island, and a tiki awaits you at the end of each section. These boss battles are some of the most fun you’ll have in the game, as you’ll need to use your color-matching skills to remove balls in your path, before blasting away at the boss.
Zuma’s Revenge HD works wonderfully on the iPhone, but it makes particularly good use of space on the iPad. Each level looks wonderful on the larger screen, and allows for extra precision on difficult shots.
PopCap Games is a developer known for amazingly fun puzzle games like Peggle and Plants vs Zombies, and Zuma’s Revenge HD is a great addition to the family. It’s simple enough that anyone can pick it up and figure out the basics, but getting to the end and defeating that final boss will take more time and skill than you might think. Match-three games are far from new to iOS, but this game pairs it with tense physics-based mechanics and boss battles to create something special.