Zuma is a Pop Cap game – a puzzle game that would best be described as “a load of balls”. That’s not to say it’s bad by any means, but it really does feature a massive amount of balls.

You know in Tetris, how you fail if the whole screen fills up with pieces? In this game you fail if a golden skull manages to suck down one or more of your balls. True story.

Also, you play as a frog that spits balls. Honestly, I shit you not.

So, innuendo aside, how does it work?

Zuma features a track along which a whole load of differently coloured balls roll, and at the end of the track is a golden skull. If your balls so much as tea-bag the skull, the game is up, and you lose a life. To prevent this from happening, your aforementioned ball-spitting frog springs to the rescue. You control the frog, and by spitting brand new coloured balls into the continuous stream of rolling balls, you can match three or more together and cause them to explode. This buys you time, and if the gap you’ve just made has a pair of balls that are the same colour at each end, then they are drawn together, pulling all of the balls back. If these then form a chain of more than three of the same colour, you’ve started a combo. Combos are king in Zuma, as you can clear balls as fast as you want, but without combos you aren’t going to make it. For you see, combos not only clear balls faster, but they score highly too – and the continuous flow of balls doesn’t stop until you hit a predetermined score limit. Once the balls stop coming, the existing ones keep on rolling until you clear them all, or they plummet into the skulls wide open mouthpiece, and you’re back to square one.

The game is well presented, with colourful graphics and an interesting soundtrack. The only negative thing I found about its presentation was that the in game fonts somehow manage to look both pixellated and blurry at the same time, as if they have been badly upscaled. They’re still readable, so it’s a tiny niggle, though.

The game also features online leaderboards and a non-stop survival mode, to show off your mean Zuma skills. Or in my case, to make me realise just how terrible at it I really am.

One of the things that makes Zuma more challenging than many puzzle games is the fact that it’s not enough to just see exactly where you want to shoot your balls, but you need a fair bit of speed and dexterity to get them in exactly the right place. At times these suckers move fast, and you’ve got to have eyes all over the screen to keep up – particularly on the (horrible) levels where there are two tracks, and two sets of balls rolling in opposite directions. It can be tricky. It can be annoying. I’m pretty much rubbish at it. Of course, though, like near enough everything that Pop Cap games have ever made, it’s dripping with that “one more go” factor which is the hallmark of a quality puzzle game.

To quote my fianceé – if you play this for too long you’ll end up dreaming of balls.







One response to “Zuma”

  1. Mark avatar

    I havn’t seen this many balls since the Ready-Up meet up.

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