Free online PC games. We’ve all played them. Whether we play them when we have five minutes spare or when we’re supposed to be working, they are very usually addictive and very easy to pick-up-and-play. Arguably one of the most popular titles that fit into this category is Zuma, which has arrived on the Xbox LIVE Arcade.
The concept of Zuma is simple. Using the thumbstick, players rotate the stone frog and fire coloured balls using the A button. Players must match the coloured balls with at least three of the same colour in order for them to disappear. The level is complete when all the balls are gone. Sound easy? Well unfortunately (or fortunately in some cases), it gets a little bit harder as the coloured balls are always on the move and when they reach the stone frog’s mouth, the game is over. Zuma also contains power-ups, bonuses and coins; each of which can be used to gain more points and ease the pressure.
The game contains two game modes, both of which are very similar with very few differences. The main mode is Adventure, in which players aim to get through the game’s temples on different levels and maps. The second of the two is Gauntlet in which players aim to reach Son of Sun rank. The only real difference is that Gauntlet is played using the same map and that the balls never stop coming. Otherwise they are pretty similar. This isn’t initially a bad thing. Nevertheless it’s a welcome addition to the hardcore fans.
Obviously, a game so simplistic doesn’t require much on the graphics front but Zuma is alright-looking. It may not be a work of art but there’s enough detail and texturing to class it as good. The audio element is pretty similar in the way in which it’s a fairly catchy tune for something so simple.
For a title that was released when achievements first came about. The list is still particularly good. There are a few achievements which will be unlocked with ease after a few minutes, and some which require fast thumbs and an inquisitive mind though not necessarily impossible.
Zuma does however have its negatives. For a game which can be played online for free, the 400 Microsoft Points price tag may seem a bit too much and with the exception of Gauntlet mode, the game doesn’t offer much else compared to this free version. Then there is the only real annoyance with the game being that it is sometimes hard to position the ball exactly where you intend it to go due to the rather clumsy thumbstick. Compared to the PC version, it will take players a bit longer to master, though shouldn’t be much of a put-off.
Overall, Zuma is a great Xbox Live Arcade title and is a superb addition to any puzzle fan’s collection, though is let down by the fact there’s a cheaper version elsewhere which is easier to control.