Zuma Xbox Live Review

Zuma has balls, lots of them; the game is literally filled to the brim with balls. The balls are multicoloured, they range from red to blue to green to yellow and beyond. It also has a frog; the frog shoots the multicoloured balls from his mouth. The frog can spin around in a full 360. As with most other puzzle games Zuma is all about 3s. As you play the game your mind will get focused on making three or more balls explode. Zuma is crazy, Zuma is surreal and like most puzzle games Zuma makes no sense, but most of all Zuma is some of the most fun you can have for around 6 quid!

The Frog’s Got Balls

As you can tell by our slightly weird opening paragraph Zuma is a very strange little game. The game does have a story but trying to explain it in our language would make your head explode so it’s best to just explain how the game plays. You control a stone frog that is placed in the centre of the screen on each level you play on. All around this stone frog is a trench in which a selection of multicoloured ball runs through. On each level you must use said frog that spits out balls, to try and match a selection of 3 or more balls that run through the trenches. Matching three or more balls makes them disappear. When you make enough sets of three or more disappear balls will stop entering the level and all that’s left to do is clean up the remaining ones. This all may sound very simple but as you can see by some of the screenshots dotted around this page the trenches can get very complicated and at times maze-like making your job that much harder.

Frog In The Throat

All good puzzle games need a good combo system to keep them entertaining for the long run and Zuma delivers. Combos are the key to making the game easier and are a must for advancing through some of the later levels. Combos happen when you make a group of balls disappear and if like coloured balls are on either side of the gap created they will roll together making themselves disappear. It is hard to explain but once you get the hang of it while playing you should be placing balls to set up combos and stringing together sets of big combos in no time. There are also other features the game has to help you beat harder levels and get your score higher. There are some special balls which each have different abilities such as allowing you to shoot more quickly, slow down the speed of the game or even reverse the rate at which the row of balls flows. These abilities are activated by making one of the special balls disappear with 3 or more balls of the same colour.

One Is The Loneliest Number

The lack of multiplayer slightly hurts the game’s longevity. It has to be said that a battle mode type game could have easily been implemented which would have been fun to play over Live but sadly we get nothing as such. What we do get though is two very entertaining single player modes to play in. The first being the games story mode which is titled Adventure and their other which is a survival mode in all but name which the developers chose to call Gauntlet. Adventure mode is broken into sets of temples which you must progress through. Each of the temples has a set of levels which get harder as you advance. Then there is the other mode; if you are familiar with the survival mode in other puzzlers then you will know how Gauntlet plays as you must see how long you can last before getting overwhelmed on a single map of your choice (or a random one). As with all XBLA games Zuma has leader boards which will let you see how you place against the world’s best. Finally, the game has a nice set of hard-to-get achievements which will have you playing for a very long time if you want to get them all.

Feelin’ Froggy

In terms of presentation a lot more could have been done to spice up the game. The graphics are serviceable and look bright and vibrant on a HD but are nothing special. A few extra partial effects could have been used to make combos and such look more special but instead all we get is a simple explosion. I have to say that I really enjoyed the music they used in the game. Just like Marble Blast Ultra the same song plays over the course of the whole game but it changes in pitch and tone to match on screen events. The song itself can be best described as a “jovial tribe-like” composition and it is a very catchy theme you could find yourself humming after playing the game. The sound effects are ok but nothing special.

Overall

Zuma is one of the lower tier games available on XBLA. By lower tier, I mean it is not one of the first games you are going to buy when you first look at the service. Although it is not talked about as much as the likes of Geometry Wars and Marble Blast Ultra it is still a very competent game that can get very addictive. If you have already downloaded all of XBLA’s big games and you are still looking for some small title to tide you over till the next big game is released then you could do far worse than giving Zuma a go.

7.7 out of 10

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