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Video Game / Zuma

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Zuma is a 2003 Aztec-themed computer game, in which the player controls a stone frog capable of rotating 360 degrees and spitting out colored stone marbles. A continuous string of marbles (a "rollout") is pushed down a meandering trench; at the end of the trench is a skull-shaped opening, and if even one marble falls in the hole, the player loses a life. To prevent this, marbles are fired from the frog at the rollout so as to match three or more of the same color; these will explode. When enough points have been scored, new marbles stop rolling onto the screen, and once all the marbles are removed, the level is cleared.

Knocking out marbles within a rollout will give you a brief respite as the back of the line closes the gap. However, if the marbles on either side of the gap are the same color, the front of the line will zip backwards, pushing the whole rollout back a little bit. Furthermore, if three-or-more same-colored marbles join this way, they explode too, and it's possible, with planning (or more likely luck), to create cascading chains of matches this way. Certain marbles will have icons on them denoting powerups (slowing the chain, briefly reversing the flow, etc), and on occasion there will be pop-up items outside of the string that give you points, extra lives, etc if you manage to shoot them. Finally, if the map allows it (and most do), you can get extra points in the form of "gap bonuses": open a hole in one rollout and then successfully shoot something that is on the other side of the hole (the other string, a pop-up item, etc).

A sequel, Zuma's Revenge!, was released in September '09. This one was a little different; instead of the Mayincatec style of the first game, Revenge! was Polynesian-styled, introduced new powers like Eye Beams, Triple shot, and the ability to switch between pedestals to shoot from, and had something strange for this style of game — bosses based on Tiki gods.

A Facebook version was also created, called Zuma Blitz. It adds the ability to check your friends' scores (and compete with them), and centers the formula around this form of "multiplayer" competition by putting a 1-minute time limit on each match. (This is short enough that you almost never die.) There's only one native power-up marble — an hourglass that adds 5 seconds to your current match — but at the end of each match you get "Mojo," a form of currency which can be expended to add up to three Powers to your match (Bomb marbles; more extra-point pop-ups, etc). At the end of each week-long tournament round, you get Mojo prizes if you had one of the top 3 high scores amongst your Friends list. This game has been retired as of March 31, 2017.

It's Older Than They Think, being based off an old arcade game called Puzz Loop released in 1998 by Mitchell Corporation (which was released outside Japan as Ballistic on PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and Nuon DVD), which spawned a handful of sequels (including a Nintendo DS port). There is also a competing title by Mumbo Jumbo called Luxor.

Zuma exhibits the following tropes:

  • 1-Up: Every 50,000 points you'll receive an extra life.
  • All There in the Manual: The boss rush mode in the console versions of Revenge! has names for all the bosses before they're faced, including Zhaka Mu's chef, named "Drumstick Willie", Zhaka Mu's moai form, named "His Crumbliness", and the enemy frog and final form of Zhaka Mu you fight at the endgame, named "Shadow Frog".
  • Animal Motifs: Kahtiki Khan, Kolo Kamari, and Cephalo Ka in Revenge! are patterned after a tiger (which never exists in Polynesia), mosquito, and squid respectively. There's also Zhaka Mu's flimsy chef, a chicken.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Once you clear a rollout of a particular color, it stops getting fed into the frog's mouth.
    • You have unlimited lives while facing the tiki gods of Revenge!.
    • Presumably because of the increased difficulty of aiming with a controller instead of a mouse or touch controls, the console versions of Revenge! give you infinite lives throughout the whole game.
  • Anti Poop-Socking: In Blitz, you start with five Heart Containers, each representing a 1-minute round; you recover a heart about once every 8 minutes. Of course, they're more than willing to give you unlimited life if you pay for it.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end of the first game, the sun god promotes the frog to become his god brother.
  • Astral Finale: The final level and world in the first game's Adventure is 13-1 which is the "Space" level. It is taking place on a moving space background.
  • Awesomeness Meter: In Blitz mode of Revenge! as well as the game Zuma Blitz, you can get a powerup if you score an extended combo. (The hard part is that there's a time limit — if you spend more than about 1 second between shots, the entire meter dissipates.)
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The Final Boss in Revenge, Zhaka Mu. After putting out the four torches, the mysterious cloaked figure reveals themselves to be a chicken-themed boss monster with an enormous health bar. He goes down in one hit, and the credits roll, at which point it turns out he was really Zhaka Mu's chef, Drumstick Willie. Cue the real Zhaka Mu's entrance, and the toughest boss battle in the game. Funnily enough, on repeat play throughs, Willie doesn’t even try to hide the secret and after being hit, just tells you to enjoy the fake credits.
  • Boss Rush: The console version of Revenge! has this mode, where you fight all seven bosses in Adventure Mode back-to-back.
  • Boss Subtitles: Before fighting the bosses in Revenge! you get an screen with their face (except for the Final Boss), their name and the title:
    • Kahtiki Khan, Ancient Devil Idol
    • Maga Maga, Witch Doctor
    • Baron Digo, Cannibal Idol
    • Kolo Kamari, Mosquito God of Pestilence
    • Cephalo Ka, Tentacled Reaper of the Deep
    • Zhaka Mu, Ultimate Devil Spirit
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The Facebook version gives you new powerups and capabilities as your player profile levels up... or you can buy them with Facebook credits.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: The 10-level Iron Frog in Revenge!. The game even records how far into the mode you reach.
  • Captain Obvious: "Different powers are not the same!"
  • Chekhov's Gun: See that volcano looming in the background of Revenge!'s main menu? The last zone takes place there.
  • Checkpoint: One every 5 levels in Revenge!.
  • Company Cameo: in the DSi version of Revenge!, scrolling all the way down the Achievements menu will eventually reveal that the board they're posted on has a PopCap Games logo pinned on it.
  • Company Cross References: In the DS and DSi version of Revenge!, you can eventually unlock a set of rings based on Bejeweled for the man on the main menu, and one of the Blitz boards is based on the yard from Plants vs. Zombies, complete with the occasional zombie (who also appears in the Achievements menu on a postcard). All three of these games have the common factor of PopCap Games being involved with them.
  • Cosmetic Award: Several of such rewards are given to the player after they finish all gauntlets in the original game:
    • In the main menu, the stone frog will now be wearing a green top hat with the phrase "Sun of Sun" written on it;
    • A New Game Plus variation is available through adventure mode: during cutscenes, the frog's ribbits will be translated into proper sentences.
  • Credits Gag: The fake final boss in Revenge is downed in one hit, and is followed by credits. These credits are cut short when the real boss arrives.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: After defeating Zhaka Mu and rescues Ms. Zuma, him alongside few other tiki gods are shown to get along with the frog and enjoy the vacation together on the credit screen.
  • Easter Egg:
    • A small one on the main menu. If you click on the picture of the frog, his eyes will start following the cursor around the screen.
    • The five buttons on the first game's main menu plays the 5-notes sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
    • Hover on the main menu's buttons in order to play the aforementionned note sequence three times, and an UFO appears. Clicking on it shows the credits.
  • Every 10,000 Points: 50,000 points net you a life.
  • Fake Longevity:
    • The first game's Adventure. There are four temples of three stages with at least five levels each (in total 76 levels), but only 22 unique levels exist, so how does it make up the rest? By copy-pasting them four times.
    • Double subverted in Revenge!. All 60 levels (minus bosses) in Adventure are distinct from another, so it looks to be an aversion, but after beating it, Heroic Frog mode is unlocked, which has you play through all 60 again, but with an increased difficulty.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: After going through nearly the entire game in Mayincatec (but still Earth)-styled levels, the final level of the first game takes you to space. There's no boss to worry about, though.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The boss of the fourth world, Kolo Kamari, tells the frog to go swimming after being defeated. The next world, Underseas Grotto, takes place underwater.
  • Graceful Loser: All the tiki gods but especially Zhaka Mu in Revenge! when you face them again in Heroic Frog.
  • Guilt-Based Gaming: The quit screen in Revenge! says "Are you sure you wish to quit? This will make the mighty Zuma angry!"
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Cephalo Ka. He claims to have calmed down in Heroic Frog. Then he loses his keys...
  • Hard Mode Filler: A variation occurs in the first game, which will give you a new color ball and increase the speed by repeating the same three worlds over and over again. For the first three repetitions, an extra level per world might seem to avert this, but it's played completely straight between the third and fourth repetition. The only remaining original level after you compelte world 9 is the sole Space Zone stage of World 13.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: This plays as the balls get closer to the skull, as the "danger" theme starts to play.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: An entire game based around them. Accordingly, the game will hide prizes and Power Ups in places that take careful shooting (and no small amount of luck) to get.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: The messages the frog gets at the end of each level of the first game are written like this.
  • Interface Screw: The bosses' powers in Revenge! are this, though some are worse than the others. While Maga Maga's merely stuns you for a moment, Baron Digo's shuffles the color of the rollout balls, and Kolo Kamari makes you shoot balls in slow-mo.
  • Last of His Kind: The stone frog. Until it is later revealed in Revenge that there is a female of his species as well.
  • Lead the Target: Necessary for certain layouts, as your frog is not Hitscan.
  • Level Grinding: Blitz exhibits this, as the way you gain EXP is by playing matches. It's Nerfed in Kroaktoa Island, as you no longer earn money when playing a round, making getting power-ups more expensive.
  • Mayincatec: The first game can't decide whether to follow an Aztec or Maya theme. The imagery is decidedly Mayan, but if the levels reference gods, they're all Aztec ones (Centeotl, Ehecatl, Quetzalcoatl, etc.).
  • Mirror Match: In Revenge!, the final level in Adventure Mode has you face against a recolor of your frog.
  • No Name Given: The frog's name is never stated
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The first game has some ominous Nahautl-sounding chanting in its theme.
  • One-Winged Angel: Zhaka Mu's "true" form is a winged demon, though he reveals in Heroic Frog that it's just a Halloween costume.
  • Power-Up Motif: Does this when a power-up appears and disappears.
  • Pre-Final Boss: Parodied and double subverted in Revenge. After completing level 60, you end up in a small level with 4 torches, and the game tells you to extinguish them. After doing so, you will face a boss that has twice as much health as the other bosses...except it dies in one hit. You then get the to see the ending credits...until the REAL final boss appears.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: Zuma's Revenge! Apparently the game is the one taking revenge?
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Present in Heroic Frog mode of Zuma's Revenge!. Because earlier chapters were designed with color limitations in mind, some of them end up receiving a much higher increase to difficulty than others. Meanwhile, levels that already were cakewalks stay as such even in their Heroic Frog version.
  • Scoring Points: Points are awarded for various things, ranging from merely breaking balls, to shooting bonus fruit targets, to beating the par time on the level. Points for basic things tend to come in numbers from 10 to 100, with numbers in the thousands coming out for particularly impressive things like finishing a rollout far away from its end point.
  • Sequential Boss: The Final Boss in Revenge: First you have a short level where you have to extinguish four torches. Then you fight a Trick Boss that throws slow green projectiles and really only has one hit point. After the fake credits are interrupted by the real Zhaka Mu, he initially fights you in a white Moai form that shoots ricocheting fireballs from his eyes and summons minions. When you've got him halfway down, he changes forms and becomes a winged demon that shoots two fast fireballs at a time. And for the final phase, he assumes a Mirror Boss frog form that alternates between launching balls that go in a straight line and those that go in a wavy pattern.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: The games will play a heartbeat when the marbles are near the end. The closer they get, the faster the heartbeat becomes.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Threatening Geography: The island in Revenge!. You start at a jungle, then a village, a city, and a beach before going undersea and reaching the underwater entrance of a volcano.
  • Terrifying Tiki: The antagonistic tiki gods as the bosses of Revenge.
  • Time Trial: In Revenge!, Challenge Mode has you try to achieve a high score within 3 minutes. Blitz does this in 1 minute, with additional time allowed.
  • Title Confusion: "Zuma" is the name of the ball game that you're playing, as can be inferred from the dialogues, not the frog (as commonly believed) or the sun god. Early on, the PopCap Games blurb for the game invited you to "Control the ball-blasting idol of the ancient Zuma", suggesting that Zuma was either the name of a god the frog idol represents or of the Mayincatec civilization that created it.
  • Trick Boss: The final boss, Zhaka Mu in Revenge! At first you have to put out 4 candles to get to the actual boss, who has 10 hearts total. Upon shooting him once, he dies and the "credits" roll. Then the real Zhaka Mu falls down and interrupts the credits, stating that the guy you just shot was his chef. Then you fight the real final boss. They don’t even try to hide this during the New Game Plus, where, after you shoot the chef, he says, "Oof! Got me! Well, I gotta run! Catch you later! Enjoy the fake credits!"
  • Under the Sea: The levels of Undersea Grotto in Revenge! take place exclusively underwater, though this has no impact on anything gameplay-wise.
  • Version-Exclusive Content: Revenge! varies depending on whether you're on console/PC or DS.
    • The console versions have the Weekly Challenge, exactly what it sounds like; Iron Frog, where you get one life to get through ten levels; and Boss Rush, where you fight all eight bosses back to back. They also have the Spirit Temple, where medals you earn in the Story Mode (three per level: one for completing the level, one for reaching a score threshold in the level, and one for beating a par time in the level) can be used to power up spirit animals that boost abilities like how fast you shoot and how frequently fruit appears, as well as how many points it gives.
    • The DS version has the Daily Dungeon, which gives you one randomly-selected challenge each in three categories per day; Astro, where your frog takes to space and has to play through ten increasingly speedy waves where the path the rollout follows is invisible; Blitz, where you're given a stage from Story Mode that has two rollouts and are tasked to get as much points as you can before time runs out or a rollout reaches the end of the line; and Boss, where you refight one of Story Mode's boss on a timer. Each of these has a two goals, a regular one that can usually be completed the first time (complete all waves for Astro, get a certain number of points in Blitz, and beat the boss below the par time), and a second one that takes more effort (no missing any shots [they all need to hit something], use item balls a certain amount, get a chain of a certain amount, etc.). Clearing one goal gets you a stone calendar piece, while clearing both gets you a stylish gem-encrusted treasure piece. If you fill out a calendar by getting all of the pieces 5 days in a row, it empties and you progress to the next week, and occasionally something silly is added to the title screen when you clear enough weeks (such as the man holding the main menu putting on a Hawaiian shirt and growing a beard).
  • Victory Fakeout: In Revenge!, after defeating the "final boss", you get some parody credits, which then get interrupted by the real final boss falling down and stopping them.
  • You No Take Candle: The sun god in the first game talks like this.
    Sun God: It was sent in order perhaps to release me from my wicked capture person finally, but no namely this was the story of the exactly old wive.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Played for laughs at the end of Revenge when the fake "final boss" dies in one hit, followed by partial fake credits, only for the real boss to reveal that you'd actually just "defeated" his cook. After that you get to fight his "final form," followed by his true final form, followed (and completed) by a dark mirror version of your character.