PopCap has been paying quite a bit of mind to the DS lately. In November, they released their big-name game, Bejewled 3, for the system; and on February 22, they put out Zuma’s Revenge!, a sequel to their hit ball-shooting casual PC game. It’s a funny time to be releasing big-name DS games with the 3DS in full swing, and in both cases, the MSRP are double what they would be on the PC.
So is the two-and-a-half-year-old Zuma Revenge! worthy of a $20 purchase for the sake of portability?
Zuma’s Revenge, for such a casual game, actually has a story. The player plays the role of a frog who has been washed ashore on a tropical island. You shoot balls to link three coloured balls in a row, after which point they disappear and potentially cause combos. If the balls reach the end of their linear path, the game is over; if all balls are eliminated, the frog moves onto the next stage. The game becomes harder as you progress through the levels, with more paths and obstacles added in. Adventure mode is the main method of advancing in the game, and at the end of every “world,” there’s a boss fight which involves
clearing out balls so that the boss can be shot at.
Balls are shot by using the stylus. There’s a primary ball in the frog’s mouth and a secondary in his head, and tapping the frog switches those balls. Some stages involve the frog being on a sliding scale, and the frog can then be moved by using the stylus. The DS’s limitations really bite Zuma in the rear, unfortunately. The screen size is much smaller than even the average PC screen, making precision harder than it should be. Another major problem is that the DS can’t handle all of the action on screen. This is the only version of the game I’ve seen that actively slows down when there’s a lot going on on the screen, which is death on a game that requires the precision that Zuma requires. Another issue I had was that the colours tended to blend together on the small DS screen, especially the difference between blue and purple, problems I did not have on the PC. When the entirety of your game requires one action that becomes hard to perform because of the system’s limitations, that’s a major problem.
There are advantages to owning the DS game over the PC version that extend beyond portability, however. The big one is a daily puzzle function that gives different boards to play every day. It works like a slot machine: the goals for each set of puzzles is different (e.g. don’t switch the primary ball colour at all to ace a stage), and there’s a boss section once that’s been unlocked via Adventure mode. It’s a cute addition to a game that can grow tiresome quickly.
Other than that, this is the same game that the PC players are getting. Same adventure mode, same challenge mode, same everything else, except for the fact that the DS isn’t really a great system for a game like Zuma. When considerng that, the $20 “budget” price is particularly problematic as you’re spending twice the price of the far superior yet almost three years old PC version for… what? The only advantage is one minor mode, and that’s done in by the inherent gameplay problems that the DS platform is responsible for.1
Zuma’s Revenge! is a decent puzzle game for those that have a DS that they travel with and really like Zuma, but for anyone else, there are much better and less costly versions of the game available.
* Gameplay is easy to pick up
* Exceptional replay value
* Ad-hoc versus mode a nice plus
* Frame rate chugs at times
* Colours blend on the small screen
* Too expensive for what it is
FINAL SCORE: D+
Disclosure: This game was provided by PopCap/Electronic Arts for review purposes. The reviewer finished Adventure Mode and six challenge stages. He also played the daily puzzles on six different occasions. Though the DS version was provided, Gaming Bus purchased the PC version via Steam for $10 for comparison purposes. Versus mode was not able to be tested in our review environment, and is therefore not considered in the scoring of our review.
1 – Zuma’s Revenge! was released on iOS and iPad during the writing of this review for $2 and $5 respectively. This price point is one-fourth that of the DS version on systems that handles the game better.