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The Slacker's Guide - The Most Fun You Can Have With a Stone Frog: Zuma Deluxe

by Chris Barylick
March 3rd, 2006

It's all a matter of presentation. Color-matching games, especially ones in which matched pairs are exchanged for points and removal of block units from the screen to buy more space to maneuver in, are nothing new. It's a familiar formula and while it's allowed for some terrific games, it's hard to come up with a truly original idea for this.

Zuma Deluxe by PopCap Games figured out how to make an old idea new again: make the game different but also as fun as possible. In Zuma, players take control of a rotating stone frog totem which fires colored balls from its mouth at a line of linked colored balls that must be prevented from reaching a target in the middle of the screen. Fire a ball into a group of like-colored balls to form a combination of three or more and these balls will disappear, halting the chain or disrupting its rolling path towards the skull icon.

Beyond the typical ball-matching goals found in these games, combinations and tactics have to be utilized. Zuma Deluxe doesn't always present the array of balls that needs to be matched and eliminated as a straight line. Instead, the group curves upon itself, wending back and forth to make the shot that much harder.

Combinations, activated when a group of like-colored balls is matched and removed, can perform tricks such as slowing the array of balls, detonating large groups or making them roll backwards for a period of time to buy additional space. Multiple game modes can present both a pre-determined number of balls to eliminate or provide a mass that steadily grows unless the player eliminates everything as quickly as possible.


PopCap Games' Zuma Deluxe.

Unconventional and fun, Zuma Deluxe is the perfect game to kill 10-15 spare minutes at a shot. Strange and almost non-sensical at first glance, the game can be learned inside of a minute, and just has a good, fun, energetic feel to it that's only complimented by outstanding graphics and booming music that brings out an "Ooga Shakka!" jungle beat/refrain from Reservoir Dogs.

Zuma Deluxe is a 6.8 megabyte download, requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later to run and can be registered for a $19.95 fee. Unfortunately, there is a 60-minute time restriction until the game has been registered, after which the game will demand to be registered.

Even if this is the case, Zuma Deluxe is one of the best games I've had occasion to download and play this year. Simple, fun, addictive and almost impossible to put down due to sheer entertainment value, this is what shareware game creators should aspire to create.

That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,

.

Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.

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