Zuma - PSN

   11/07/2009 at 10:33       Joe Bennett       0 COMMENTS. - Score 2/5
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Some of the best puzzle games of all time, when stripped down to their gameplay mechanic, have sounded dull.

Tetris

Different shapes made up of four blocks fall from the top of the screen and you have to complete a full horizontal line to remove that line from the screen, initiating chains as others fall into the vacant place.

Puzzle Bobble

Coloured balls are at the top of the screen. You control an arrow at the bottom that is filled with randomly coloured balls that you fire at the top of the screen and try to connect three or more coloured balls together, until all of the balls are cleared.

Zuma

You control a frog in the middle of the screen that has to protect the winding corridors of Aztec temples from the advancing coloured balls by firing randomly generated coloured balls and trying to connect three or more colours together. Balls keep filling the screen until the score meter fills and you then concentrate on clearing the remaining balls left on the screen.

None of them sound particularly exciting, but obviously the first two are proven classics of the genre. Zuma...not so much.

Zuma is, for me, nothing more than an ok puzzle game. It doesn't have you seeing coloured balls when you close your eyes to sleep like Tetris did with its blocks or Zoo Keeper with its small animals. Neither does it have that sense of achievement when you've cleared 1000 lines or finally beaten that bastard hard mode in Zoo Keeper.

The similar and unexciting two modes (Adventure and Gauntlet are almost identical) don't exactly do it any favours and the lack of any multiplayer is both strange and stingy. The online leaderboards are frankly rubbish (you can't filter them to find yourself or any of your friends) and it's not as ideally suited to a joypad as it is a mouse, due to the accuracy and speed required to make some shots. And while the remote play will be a good feature for some, I found it quite difficult to play on the PSP due to the awful analogue nub.

Zuma undoubtedly has its fans and they mainly seem to be casual female gamers. There's nothing wrong with that, and that's not meant to be a derogatory comment, but that does appear to be Zuma's main audience. If you have a partner, or a friend called Monte, that is a casual videogames player then Zuma might just be an ideal purchase. The very straightforward gameplay and lack of features makes it easy to get into. For the more hardcore gamer though, especially one that has grown up on a diet of excellent puzzle games such as Tetris, Lumines, Meteos, Zookeeper or Puzzle Bobble, then Zuma is likely to leave you wondering why it's the wrong side of five quid and why your partner loves it so much.
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