Exclusive: 'Zuma's Revenge' Interview - On The New Modes, Original's Difficulty Level, Imitators and XBLA

Recently we revealed the September 15th release date of "Zuma's Revenge," the sequel to the widely popular ball-shooting puzzle game. Jason Kapalka, the co-founder and chief creative officer at PopCap Games, was able to give us some additional insight into the game, specifically regarding the new game modes, the more manageable difficulty level and a few other pertinent topics.

For starters, Kapalka gave us the run-down of what to expect, gameplay-wise:

"Zuma’s Revenge" keeps the basic match-3 ball-blasting game mechanic of the original game, but adds a variety of new modes for extensive replayability. Boss battles against evil Tiki spirits punctuate the regular Adventure game, and advanced players can have their skills tested by the all-new Heroic Frog and Iron Frog modes. In addition there’s the Challenge mode, a fast arcade-style game where players compete to get a top score in a limited time, much like our “Bejeweled Blitz” game on Facebook.

If you ever played the original "Zuma," you probably never finished it. As the game's adventure mode progressed, it reached levels of absolute insanity, requiring little to no room for error. According to Kapalka, the adventure mode in "Zuma's Revenge" has been tuned with this in mind:

[It's] definitely a bit ‘easier’ in the sense that more people will complete the initial Adventure mode of the game. We estimate that less than 10% of all players of the original "Zuma" completed the main mode of that game – it’s just insanely difficult in the later stages…but "Zuma’s Revenge" offers a slightly less daunting prospect in the adventure mode such that it’s a bit like the adventure modes in "Peggle" and "Plants vs. Zombies;" it’s really just preparing you for the ultimate challenges presented by the new Challenge and Iron Frog modes.

Because of the popularity of "Zuma," the web is packed to the brim with similar titles. In fact, "Zuma" shares a lot of similarities with "Puzz Loop," which came out several years before PopCap's game. I was curious how PopCap views all these similar titles in the marketplace. Here's what Jason had to say:

We’re always looking for ways to ‘evolve’ our games in innovative ways, and do keep an eye on how other games are expanding or extending game mechanics similar to those in our games. But the real focus in a case like "Zuma’s Revenge" is simply on improving the original experience in as many ways as possible beyond simply ‘dressing it up’ in higher-res graphics and brighter colors. The original "Zuma" is nearly five years old, so we’ve had plenty of time to brainstorm on ways to make it better, and our legions of fans and beta testers have contributed lots of great ideas, some of which are reflected in the final form that "Zuma’s Revenge" has taken.

And lastly, can we expect "Zuma's Revenge" on XBLA, which has become a very popular platform for PopCap:

"Zuma’s Revenge" needs to prove itself in the market before we determine where and how it might be adapted for other platforms such as XBLA. We always take a ‘wait and see’ approach with our games, and this has served us well, not only in helping us gauge the likelihood of success on other platforms, but giving us the luxury of incorporating new features and functionality into those adaptations so the game is as good as it can be for each respective platform. Our games are designed to be more or less timeless, so we don’t feel we need to hurry a game to a new platform; it will still be popular and in demand for each new platform as it spreads across various devices.