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A complex back story and intricate puzzle elements ironically combine to create one of the simplest and most addictive puzzlers we've seen for some time. If your mouse finger can keep up with the clicking you'll find yourself an instant new best friend here.
PopCap's Zuma is placed in the Aztec world and the objective is to explore the ancient temples by clearing an array of colored balls that roll down a spiraling gutter. The player has to guide a ball spitting frog so that a colored ball hits at least two likewise colored balls in the spiral. Once a collision of three or more balls is achieved they get pulverized. Sufficient pulverization will stop the chain of balls to roll towards the end point of the gutter, which if they do will cost a life. Zuma is a combination of billiards (balls), Skip-Bo (colors), and Galaga (blowing stuff up), just that the balls don't shoot back.
The main problem is to get two balls of same color to sit next to each other in the gutter. The easiest way is to inject a ball of right color, but often enough other balls get in the way since the entire array of balls relentlessly moves forward. Aiming is key, because otherwise one has more problems than before.
Zuma has many levels and each of them has its own twists, literally. The spirals spiral in different ways and figuring out where the balls go is sometimes difficult. And when dealing with only one spiral gutter starts getting old, Zuma serves up two intertwined ones at the same time. There are several helpers, such as an aiming tool, but one has to work hard to earn it and it is only available for a short time. Besides that, there are always means on how to up the score or get rid of a lot of balls, either by shooting combos or hitting an explosive ball that will blast a good number of neighbors into the dustbins of the Aztec temples.
The most amazing thing is that such a simple game can get one hooked within minutes and not let go for hours.
I really like this game. The graphics are great, the music isn't utterly annoying, and the most amazing thing is that such a simple game can get one hooked within minutes and not let go for hours. There is always a different strategy needed for each level and that makes it both challenging and entertaining. Yet it is easy enough that even my three year old son figured it out no problem and did very well. My wife likes the game as well and she really masters the balls well. It is a game for all ages and a lot of fun, fun, fun.
There is only one problem with this game. Since it involves a lot of mouse clicking one quickly develops a 'mouse arm'. So while Zuma starts up, call the chiropractor and make an appointment. And yes, use the best mouse you can find in the house. I first tried it with the touchpad on my laptop and that ended in an embarrassing disaster: I didn't even get through the first level.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: