Zuma's Revenge (DSiWare)

Game Review

Zuma's Revenge Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

An expensive addiction

We'll say one thing for PopCap — it sure knows how to transform simple tasks into madly addictive experiences. And from Peggle and Bookworm to Plants vs. Zombies, Nintendo fans have been able to enjoy excellent ports of some of its most popular games. Zuma's Revenge is the most recent PopCap title to make the jump to DSiWare, and it's safe to say that the service is richer for it.

The gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who's played one of WiiWare's earliest titles, Magnetica Twist (known as Actionloop Twist for those of a European persuasion). That's because that game was inspired heavily by PopCap's earlier release Zuma. In both games, you fire coloured marbles at a string of other marbles that advance along their lines. Matching colours clears the marbles and sets off chains, but if the marbles advance too far the game ends. It's a simple concept, and it's made even simpler by DSi's touch screen, which allows you to be extremely accurate with your shots by simply tapping where you want them to go.

Zuma's Revenge attempts to frame levels as a brave frog's attempt to escape from a treacherous island, but the storyline is decidedly nonsensical and unnecessary. Fortunately, though, it never gets in the way of the action, and it leads to some genuinely funny dialogue and sight gags along the way.

As always, PopCap has put a great deal of effort into the presentation, making this a port of extremely high quality. The graphics are brilliant and crisp, and the music is appropriately atmospheric. The touch screen controls work excellently with one minor criticism: tapping the frog to change the colour of the marble he's about to shoot is a fickle action, and can sometimes lead to him firing instead of cycling to the next marble. Potentially this could lead to failing a level, but more likely it'll just interrupt a chain. Still irritating, but not a big problem.

Your goal in each of the 60 main levels is to clear all the marbles from the board. Power ups come and go, allowing you to zap marbles with lasers, clear them with a triple shot, increase your speed and accuracy, and so on. After each set of ten levels is complete a boss appears, and you'll have to find creative ways of knocking him out with your marbles. These battles offer unique spins on the main action of the game, and they're a welcome break from the similarity of the main stages.

As PopCap fans know, its games excel in quality and addictiveness...but not necessarily variety. Sure enough, the levels in Zuma's Revenge are all pretty similar to one another. While a few levels offer multiple bases from which your frog can fire marbles, or allow him to slide along the bottom of the screen Space Invaders-style, the experience of one level is never too different from the last. The boss fights do offer a reprieve, but it's clear that Zuma's Revenge was designed for short bursts rather than long hauls, and playing for too long at once will reveal a tedium that shorter, more frantic play sessions mask quite well.

With 60 levels and additional boss fights, there's certainly a good deal of content. The replay value is where Zuma's Revenge really shines, though: there are achievements to unlock as you play, and also daily challenges that generate randomly. Each day you play you will be assigned two new challenges (with an unlockable third once the game is complete). Overcome those challenges — and their optional sub-challenges — and you can earn puzzle pieces. Complete all the assigned challenges for five days straight and you'll complete the puzzle and...well, you'll have to play for yourself and see.

The challenges are, true to their name, often quite difficult, but the ever-changing selection adds a very welcome reason to return regularly. Zuma's Revenge is ideal for commuters who find themselves killing time on a bus or train every day, and the fact that it's so charming and fun will keep people coming back even if they can't spare the time for a daily challenge.

Unfortunately there is one major drawback: the price. While Zuma's Revenge is a worthy addition to your download collection, it's quite expensive for a game that consists almost entirely of firing marbles at other marbles. We don't have a bad word to say about the experience on offer, but considering how limited the gameplay is, this is definitely a case where Nintendo's pricing gets in the way of a more enthusiastic recommendation.

If you love puzzlers and price is not an issue, Zuma's Revenge is among the best on offer. But for those with tighter budgets, it's a much more difficult recommendation to make.


With a downright addictive gameplay formula, a sprinkling of creative boss fights and a mountain of replay value, it's difficult to find much negative to say about Zuma's Revenge. That is, of course, apart from its questionably high price. Those who do shell out for this one find a fantastic game that's every bit as satisfying as PopCap's other offerings, and they're likely to return to it many times before they see everything it has to offer, so for a few hundred points less we'd recommend it universally. As it stands, though...well, it's your money.

From the web

User Comments (24)



Chris720 said:

This is why I bought Actionloop Twist to begin with, I had already played Zuma before... I'll probably pick this up, you can never have enough Zuma!



Slapshot said:

When the word addiction is looked up in the dictionary, there should simply be a picture of PopCap's logo!



Geonjaha said:

I'm so confused. Are prices supposed to be taken into consideration with review scores or not? Because this one looks like its only downside is its price.



SkywardLink98 said:

@Geonjaha Probably not with retail games, as those prices change, they go on sale, etc. whereas these prices are here to stay so they can be worked into a review without having to worry about the price dropping and the score becoming inaccurate.



Detective_TeeJay said:

I used to love playing this on the PC. Too many other games I need to buy before this, though. Good review.



Pokefanmum82 said:

Definitely getting this game. I love Zuma. It is highly addictive and I love puzzle games.



Flowerlark said:

I tried this on my friend's computer some years back and sucked pretty badly at it, so I think I'll skip this download.



Moose_4 said:

Come on Popcap, release a trilogy on 3ds/ds.
Peggle/plants vs zombies/Zuma all on 1 cartridge would be great!



Kyloctopus said:

@Geon I don't think they should for this case. Zuma is a fun game worth every penny, and it's either that or $3 Cheaper, and I think that is too cheap for Zuma.



KeeperBvK said:

"The gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who's played one of WiiWare's earliest titles, Magnetica Twist (known as Actionloop Twist for those of a European persuasion). That's because that game was inspired heavily by PopCap's earlier release Zuma."

Nope, Magnetica by Mitchell is the original, having been released in Japanese arcades as Puzz Loop before PopCap copied the concept for their Zuma.



Kitsune_Rei said:

While I like Popcap, Zuma has never been one of their games that really hooked me (I didn't like Magnetica that much either.) I may pick it up if I really am looking for a diversion, but I think I'll skip this one otherwise.

I do still really want Bookworm ADVENTURE on portable. The regular Bookworm is fun but once you've played Adventure its not quite as good.
Or I wouldn't say no to a Plants vs Zombies 2 as long as they're able to keep it fresh.



sinalefa said:

To be honest, $8 is not too much for a game with "a mountain of replay value". I know you can get cart based games that are way more expensive and that you will never return to after beating.



RR529 said:

I played a game on my 360 of a similar nature called Luxor 2 and enjoyed it, so this sounds good, to bad it's DSiware instead of 3DSware though (don't like the fact that DSiware can't be saved to an SD card on my 3DS, so probably a no buy for me )



TheGreenSpiny said:

@SkywardLink98: That doesn't matter. The price of the game at the time of the review is the only thing that matters. Not all games go on sale. And most games that I see on sale are not worth picking up in the first place. Not every game is worth the full asking price, despite that nearly ever game retails at the same price. The amount of content more often than not determines a games worth. If you think about every time you go to a movie you get roughly the same amount of content for the same price. All movies tend to be about 90 min. to 2 hours, and the theatre is not going to charge you different prices for different movies.



R-L-A-George said:

Facebook game glitched too much. So I have not really enjoyed it. This game might be worth it but its $8 and I only have 3 cents. LOL.



MEDARD said:

Great game for sure. But it's sad that Europeans have to import the US cartridge. And that's more than US-$ 8, trust me.



Motorbass said:

KeeperBvK is right; ZUMA is the clone. Actionloop is a remake of a game from Mitchell itself. Puzzloop came out 1998 in the arcades and Zuma is a clone (like many of Popcap games' some time ago).



Kiyata_Hamasaki said:

I bought the game from NewEgg last week for twenty bucks and free shipping. Amazon sells it too, same price. I think it's odd that they had to release an abbreviated version as DSiWare and charge eight bucks for it. I'd rather have the cartridge one. That way I can play it on any of my systems and I always have a hard copy in case a system crashes or is sold. Just my opinion



Philip_J_Reed said:

I'm so confused. Are prices supposed to be taken into consideration with review scores or not?

As a product requiring an exchange of currency in order to play it, yes, I think actual monetary value should be taken into account.



Nightwalker said:

Well, you could always press L or R to change the marble color, so you don't need to tap the frog.
Also, you should have mentioned the slowdowns that occur on some of the later levels with more marbles on the screen.



SyFyTy said:

Yeah I paid the $20 USD because of a previous experience with some games that were on eshop with the same name (but highly reduced content)
***cough 'system flaw' cough 'House MD' cough*..... That is apparently also the case here. Buying retail cart allows me to play it on more than one console since I own and use all 3 (that it may be downloaded to). I still enjoy magnetica which was my 1st purchase for my original DS lite. also liked Luxor for Ds too.



SyFyTy said:

@Moose_4 YES great idea. You would think these companies would come up with sales like this instead of rewriting/coding it for iOS for .99 cents/ Also any one card would easily hold all 3 games.

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