Other new features include the introduction of boss battles. These usually involve trying to make holes in the string of balls so you can get a clear shot at the boss, who fights back with various minions and projectile weapons. Makes a change, if not a radical one. The boss battles are enjoyable enough, despite the fact none of the first few take more than a handful of attempts to complete.
But the difficulty level ramps up considerably once you get above level 50 - not just with regard to boss battles but when it comes to regular levels too. The string seems to move more quickly and there are fewer opportunities to match at every turn, leaving you with many more odd-man-out balls to deal with. As a result you're forced to play strategically and think ahead in order to win, and casual players could lose interest at this point. Serious Zuma players should enjoy the challenge, though.
If you do manage to play through all 60 levels and the six boss battles, you'll unlock the two new (allegedly) modes in Zuma's Revenge! First up is Iron Frog Gauntlet, which features 10 specially designed levels. Each one is extremely tough to beat, with very little room for error. Iron Frog is billed as "the ultimate test" for Zuma veterans and it's certainly impossible to win without total concentration - you might even want to turn the telly down.
The other new mode, Heroic Frog, isn't really a new mode at all. It's the same levels you've played through in the regular Adventure, only now they're a bit harder - the balls move faster and you don't seem to get as many fortuitous colour combos occurring naturally. Dressing it up as something new and exciting is a bit cheeky.
So let's do a quick tally of what's new in Zuma's Revenge!: three power-ups, one extra mode and a bonus difficulty level wearing a different hat. The game has also been given a graphical overhaul - there's now a 1920 x 1200 option, 3D particle effects and widescreen support. Which is all very nice, and there's no doubt this is the best-looking Zuma game yet, but the appeal of match-three games has never been stunning visuals. Does anyone really care if the frog looks shinier? Or that PopCap has swapped the Aztec theme for a Tiki one? You could replace the diamonds in Bejeweled with potatoes and it would still be Bejeweled. Although the name wouldn't work as well obviously.
The overall result is that if you've played previous iterations of Zuma, it all feels instantly familiar. In a good way, like when you put on a comfy jumper. All the same, it's hard not to be disappointed that there's very little in the way of fresh ideas here.
Keep playing, though, and Zuma's Revenge! will suck you in just like the previous games did. After a few hours of play, which will feel like about 40 minutes until you look at the clock, you'll realise you're hooked all over again. PopCap may not have mucked about with the original formula much, but who can blame them? It still works and Zuma is just as addictive as it's always been. Put it this way, you don't hear junkies complaining that their last hit of heroin was a bit samey.
If you're a newcomer to the series, this iteration is well worth the investment. It's a highly polished game with instantly accessible gameplay, a smooth difficulty curve and some fun new power-ups. There's scope for both long-term strategising and mindless ball-blasting. It's also ideal for playing whilst watching grisly ITV1 crime dramas and wondering whatever happened to Jerome, anyway. It may not be a whole new ballgame, but Zuma's Revenge is certainly a fun one.
8 / 10