Zuma (PSN) Review
Monday, July 20, 2009 12:21 PM
Gamers with a passion for puzzles are spoilt for choice thanks to the PlayStation Store, but does Zuma offer anything we haven't seen before?
Zuma is one of those mind-blowingly simple games that's actually incredibly difficult to describe; so here goes.
You take control of a stone frog that spits coloured balls out of its mouth, with the aim of the game being to join said objects up with three or more of the same colour from a moving line of balls that snake around the screen. Think the love-child of Bejeweled and Columns being raised by Bob and Bub from Bubble Bobble.
Your amphibious friend is viewed from a top-down perspective and can be moved in a complete circle, which at least gives a cosmetic difference to other titles in the genre, even if as far as gameplay is concerned it's pretty much puzzle-by-numbers.
In terms of visuals, as you'd expect, your eyes come under fire from a barrage of bright colours. However, dark backgrounds mean that at least you can play for more than ten minutes without suffering a searing headache.
The main game - Adventure mode - sets players the task of simply clearing the screen of coloured balls. This starts off fairly straight-forward, but as you progress the difficulty becomes increasingly steep until it reaches Everest proportions.
Meanwhile, Gauntlet pits you against Zuma until you either fail miserably or lose the will to live - or both. The online element allows you to post scores against other players, but I wouldn't hold out too much hope of breaking into the upper echelons of the scoreboard unless you're willing to put many, many hours of play in.
Those in it for the recognition will be pleased to hear that numerous trophies are dotted around, many of which crop up naturally as you play rather than being anything you'll have to radically alter the way you play the game to unlock.
However, there are some drawbacks, such as those that come from the game's control system, which at times is very fiddly, with less ball control than at a Sunday League football match.
Meanwhile, in the past I've aired gripes over puzzle games being played on consoles rather than PCs and handheld machines, as I just see them as being better suited to these platforms.
Zuma does little to change my mind on this. But, maybe that's just my personal preference rather than being anything indicative of gamers as a whole, in fact given the popularity of Zuma and Bejeweled there's no maybe about it.
However, it must be noted that remote play is available, allowing gamers to load up Zuma on their PSP through their PS3, but I just feel it would work better as a standalone handheld title.
Also, in terms of gameplay Zuma does little to push itself clear of the rest of the puzzle pack and while I cannot deny that it is an entertaining package, those who already own similar titles won't find a great deal here that is new or innovative.
Those intent on some PS3 puzzles may well find that Bejeweled 2 offers slightly better value-for-money thanks to its extra game modes, making Zuma one for committed puzzle fans and those with unhealthy frog obsessions.
Unlike Richard, I'd take Zuma over Bejeweled any day. The gameplay is just more addictive with a sense of progression and accomplishment that I can't seem to gain from Bejeweled. Zuma's Bust-a-Move type gameplay just has a grip on me.
However, this instalment of Zuma is exactly the same as its PC counterpart with little in the way of a proper high-definition conversion. The puzzle arena seems rather small on an HDTV, with unneeded Amazonian backgrounds taking up much of the screen.
The controls also lack the needed accuracy that you experience with a mouse. The PSN porting team seems to have decided to add a translucent arrow to pinpoint exactly where Mr Froggy will fire the coloured ball, which is all well and good expect for the fact that this addition is included in one of the bonus balls. Incredibly, this bonus ball still remains in the PSN game, meaning that the accuracy ball gives absolutely no advantage (unlike the pause, reverse and bomb balls.)
Still, the gameplay is addictive as ever and well worth the purchase if you want something to do late at night or on a rainy day. I'd pick Zuma over Bejewelled, but I'll leave that decision to you.