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Zuma's Revenge continues the lineage of Zuma: highly addictive ball-blasting, color-matching gameplay. The high-res graphics and new features of this iteration bring it in line with its casual game contemporaries of the past few years. So how does this sequel ($20, level-locked demo) stack up to the original?
First, Zuma's Revenge is an iterative rather than transformative sequel. The basic puzzle gameplay is the same: You, as a stone frog idol, go questing into ancient temples to discover their secrets. Your frog does this by matching balls you spit from your belly with rolling colored balls (that clack like billiard balls) on a long and winding path. Three of the same color balls are destroyed, including balls that match up after the original destruction. The frog rotates itself around an axis or moves horizontally or vertically, shooting to clear the balls before they reach the skull at the end of the path.
New to Zuma's Revenge are additional powerups. Laser lets you blast individual balls into nothingness; Lightning eliminates all the balls of a single color, and Tri-Shot gives you one massive shot that clears out anything in its path. These three powerups are rare, and all give you a huge leap forward in clearing the level. Returning powerups like Slow and Reverse help immensely, too.
Also new to Zuma's Revenge are boss battles, in which an angry Zuma god fires projectiles at you. While you handle the usual Zuma gameplay, you also have to clear a gap to fire a ball at the god enough times to defeat it. Zuma's Revenge introduces a new Polynesian setting, ruled by the angry god and final boss of the game, Zhaka Mu.
Zuma's Revenge plays wonderfully and the music and graphics are at the peak of what a casual game can offer, even keeping in mind that it's designed to run on a wide variety of PC systems. The resolution is far higher than the original game and it no longer letterboxes on widescreen monitors. This makes for a color-bursting, visually arresting game with graphics and sound that refer to ancient civilizations, but with a humorous cartoon bent.
Anyone who has played Zuma has moved on to other casual games will want to come back and regain all those lost Zuma skills. The new powerups and boss battles are just enough to lure that veteran player back and maybe some new players, while they're at it. The granddaddy of casual has his groove back, so check it out when you've got some free time.
Note: The free demo has gameplay through the second boss level of adventure mode. The full version costs $20.