My long and exhaustive journey with http://www.trueachievements.com/Zumas-Revenge-xbox-360.htm
for Xbox LIVE Arcade made me realize once again how achievements can play an integral role in the enjoyment of a game. Can achievements make a game better, or worse? I certainly believe so, and I feel that this casually focused puzzler is a great example of this idea. PopCap has ported Zuma’s Revenge
to XBLA very well and the achievements strengthens that. We dive into why this game works well and point out a few shortfalls.
Do you enjoy the Zuma
series? You’ve likely played either the original http://www.trueachievements.com/Zuma-xbox-360.htm
or Zuma’s Revenge
on the PC already (the first one being on XBLA too of course). The formula for the sequel is tweaked slightly but mostly unchanged. The gameplay of Zuma’s Revenge
doesn’t feel all too different from the original. You still need to match three or more balls on a moving track while attempting to make chains and combos, perform gap shots, and use powerups to aid your quest. If you liked it then you probably will like it again on XBLA, that is if you aren’t tired of the gameplay to this point. The ball shooting match-three gameplay in Zuma
isn’t as addictive or timeless as other puzzle games; I think after awhile most people will say they’ve had enough. However, the differences in level design and variances in ball layout each time offer enough variety to give you a pretty high replay value overall.
What then will attract those who’ve played the game so much already? What will attract newcomers as well? Xbox LIVE support is always a good starting point with these type of ports. That doesn’t just
mean achievements though. There is a leaderboard for every level and game mode which is great when comparing with friends and global opponents. In one particular level I was able to crack the Top 25 globally. This was a small reward when I’m consistently losing out to a fellow reviewer on my friends list over and over again. There’s a weekly challenge to participate in as well, yet another way to compete and compare.
The achievements really solidified this port for me though. I’ve already played Zuma
plenty on the PC, but this well rounded achievement list kept me interested throughout. It still has me interested in fact, as I’m still battling the Iron Frog mode and awaiting some more weekly challenges to (hopefully) complete this game. The first Zuma
suffered from overly difficult achievements. Of course achievements should certainly have a degree of difficulty to it but the first game was just a bit too brutal, something that even those who were talented enough to complete it would agree with. Replacing the limited lives of the first in favor of unlimited tries for the sequel certainly helped. This didn’t completely compromise the game’s difficulty though. While most people will be able to breeze through the game’s Adventure Mode, mastering some achievements will be met with a fair amount of challenge.
One of those challenges is collecting Spirit Tokens. Each level has a possible three tokens to earn: one for completing it, one for obtaining the goal score, and one for completing the goal time. You can spend these tokens to increase four different abilities like a faster shot or increased powerup availability. This allows you to “build” your abilities just a bit, which leads to more Spirit Tokens. To fully level up all your abilities and earn an achievement, you’ll need 180/189 available tokens, which certainly isn’t a push over. Towards the end I was challenged by the low time limits some of these levels were set at.
Another great challenge is the Iron Frog mode. This pits you against 10 difficult level layouts with little margin for error. Should you fail you need to start from the beginning. I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it to the end, but the challenge of it has me hooked and an achievement at the end will be a worthy reward for my struggles and triumphs. Although it is quite a bit easier than Iron Frog, I really enjoyed the Boss Rush mode and the achievement tied to it for not failing once. The boss battles were fun and offered a good break between the level worlds in the Adventure. Doing them again in succession offered some great fun, and once again the leaderboard gave more incentive to go quickly.
Aside from the challenging achievements, the other ones on the list offered consistent encouragement along the way. Others have you completing a puzzle in different ways, like one for going without moving on a rail level, or staying on a single lily pad when there are two available. There was even a few humorous achievements towards the end that I won’t spoil for you. The game doesn’t have much a story so it isn’t that big of a deal should you choose to examine your list beforehand, but I got a slight chuckle since I played through Adventure mode looking at the list first. It’s the combination of the story driven achievements, the creative ones, and the difficult ones that made this an all-around achievement list that I could appreciate and ultimately made me enjoy this game a bit more. The new unlimited retry system didn’t wash away all of the game’s difficulty thanks to the achievements.
The achievement list supports what is already a good port. Compared to Zuma
on XBLA, Zuma’s Revenge
looks so much better. The game features crisp graphics and more unique level locales, all presented in widescreen this time around. Something I still can’t come to grasp with, is the sensitivity of the game’s aim. Many would argue that the high sensitivity of the aim is essential and ideal for the twitch gameplay of some of the more difficult levels, but the option to adjust it would have been nice at least. It’s a minor gripe that only hinders my enjoyment. Besides a decent amount of Adventure levels, there’s more variety and fun with Iron Frog, Boss Rush, and Weekly Challenges. Besides achievements you earn some avatar awards if you want to show off your Zuma
This puzzle gameplay won’t give you unlimited replay value, but is still solid enough where it’ll have you coming back often at least. The port of Zuma’s Revenge
to the Arcade was done extremely well, and PopCap receives extra bonus points for an excellent achievement list. A much more accessible game compared to the first thanks to unlimited retries, but still a difficult game as far as achievements are concerned. PopCap did a good job improving on the original Zuma
and it fits well on this platform.
The reviewer, litepink, spent maybe TOO MUCH time playing Zuma’s Revenge. A pair of achievements still alludes her so some more hours of game time for this title are in the cards.