Popcap Games Zuma's Revenge

    Technically, Popcap’s colored ball matching game Zuma’s Revenge ($10) has been out for a year and a half, but it’s worth spotlighting today for two reasons. First, it’s beautifully crafted: like all of Popcap’s recent titles, the production values are nearly off the charts by puzzle game standards. As in the original Zuma, you control a frog-shaped cannon that fires red, green, yellow, and blue balls into a snaking line that will kill you if it reaches a certain end point—every three or more balls you match shrinks the line, a fun if familiar play mechanic. Second, the recent debut of Zuma’s Revenge on the Mac App Store drops the original price of entry in half, and lets you install the game on all of your Macs without registration hassles.

    As solid as Zuma was, Zuma’s Revenge is a lot better. The 60-plus stages mostly challenge you to rotate the cannon to line up same-colored shots, but over time, you’ll see levels where you instead move the cannon from left to right, or strategically jump from one position on the screen to another. Classic power-ups slow down, reverse, and blow up multiple balls at a time, while new shotgun-like triple shot and fruit items occasionally show up, too. Balls rotate as completely smooth 3-D spheres, augmented by the glowing power-ups and heavy grinding sounds as they move; an upbeat, Aztec-inspired soundtrack plays in the background, with Popcap’s signature off-beat humor adding an amusement factor to the introduction and infrequent boss stages. Portal 2 it’s not, but then again, not everyone wants to solve brain-fatiguing puzzles on their work breaks.

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