- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 17, 2012

An orb-spiting amphibian relic challenges a collection of evil Tiki chieftains with the return of an addictive puzzler built for Apple’s mobile gaming solution in Zuma’s Revenge! HD (PopCap, rated 4+, reviewed for iPad 2, $4.99).

With the goal of having at least three balls of the same color touch each other, a frog idol sits in ancient jungle locations and acts as the firing mechanism to launch orbs at a snaking collection of stone spheres rolling down a path.

When a shot sticks in the queue and matches, the matched group disappears and the overall number gets smaller. To beat a level, eliminate all of the balls from an arena before any of them fall into the opening of a skull icon (that looks like a sewer cover).

Using the iPad’s touch screen, a player can hold a finger near the frog to line up a shot and release to shoot, or simply touch his goal, with laser guides helping the process. If he taps directly on the idol, he can get the ball to change color, potentially helping with his strategy.

Some of the balls also act as powerups when hit and range from rolling the line of spheres backward to the frog spewing a laser beam for a set amount of time eliminating any targeted sphere.

A half-dozen boss levels help mix up the action as the player must hit a moving Tiki chief as a ever-advancing stream of balls blocks his path.

Overall, the campaign offers 60 levels of action that even include arenas where the frog must jump to different spots on the map to shoot at hard-to-reach targets and visiting locations such as the Lost City and Underwater Grotto.

Additionally, a Challenge mode provides another 60 levels of varied difficulty (ranging from easy to seriously hard) tied to objectives such as collecting 45,000 points.

The good news is the action comes alive through three-dimensional designs, sound effects, cliched native music, a Tiki Stand area to check stats and some humorous moments.

The welcome or, in my case, not so good news is the game really is challenging and will require a commitment rather than casual allegiance in order to beat the Tiki gods.

Also, during later, super-frenetic levels, I did find it a bit awkward to see my target and easily shoot while holding the iPad; the game works much better with the device flat on a table.

And, for the price, actually a bit high in the game app world, a multiplayer option would have been welcome.

Still, Zuma’s Revenge! HD delivers a great-looking and “ribbeting” (you had to know I was going to go there) adventure for the gamer in the family.

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