Mario Brothers came out when I was an adult, I’ve never played a video game except Tetrus, and play that only because it came on my first Mac. Recently, while visiting a friend, I began to play Zuma on their computer, and when I got home, ordered it myself.
Go for the points, not the skill. After being stuck at Level 5, then 7, I began to look for strategies that others had developed. Because I am the wrong demographic for the games, it took me a while to figure out it’s about points. I was focused on skill. Wrong choice. It’s all about points. I discovered that a lot of the “help” and “strategy” sites are just videos of kids playing, with no explanation. So I thought I’d do the Zuma addicts a favor and give some hints.
If you have never played. It’s an addictive game with colorful, jungle/Mayan/Aztec-style graphics and drumbeat music that is quite infectious. A line of colored balls snakes through a maze. A frog, located at the center, spits colored spheres from his mouth. The object of the game is to score points by creating groups of 3 or more of the same colored ball. There is a dot on the frog’s back so you can tell what the next color ball is. There are different mazes to get through. You get more points by shooting the balls through the gaps you create by combining colors, or by hitting special balls that make the game slow down. This isn’t a tutorial, so I’ll skip the description of the balls, death-trap and how many frog lives you have.
Getting out of Level 5. At this level, you can’t depend on luck, although luck has a lot to do with the game. The balls begin to move faster, and different colors are added.
Spit out useless balls. At this level, if you still have room and you come to a color you can’t use, turn to a free space and spit it out. If you aren’t in a spot you can do that, remember where you spit the useless color. You’ll get another one very shortly, and can pile them up in the same place.
The existing balls switch colors. Confusing? Yes. You remember a long strand of blue, spin around to spit an upcoming blue . . .and the strand is now yellow. Visual memory is no help here. You just have to stay alert.
Go for the coins. After level 5, it’s impossible to get ahead without hitting a coin. When you fire the color that will create a gap, fire twice in rapid succession. It’s the only way to hit the coin, and the color doesn’t matter if it’s a hit.
The gaps get smaller and shut faster. When you are firing at a coin, the double-fire technique is a must. Do the same for a gap, however, and you might wind up shooting a red into a strand of yellows. Don’t worry. If it’s far enough away from the skull’s head death-trap, you’ll have lots of chances to create another strand.
For Level 7. To get out without losing a frog, you have to get through the line of balls fast. The only way to do that is to hit coins and shoot through gaps. The more coins you hit, the fewer the total number of balls sent into the game. While it’s harder to hit coins, it helps you in the long run.
Don’t fire at random. Firing any color anywhere is a trip to the death trap. Quit switching colors so often and learn how to turn the frog quickly. You are not in control of the color sequence, and much of the game is chance.
Sit farther away from your computer screen. I sat too close and my eyes began to unfocus and I had trouble identifying the colors because everything moves so fast. (I warned you that I was the wrong demographic.) Moving back from the screen helped a lot.
Build chains within chains. One of the best ways to get the forward moving chain to slow down is to make multiple hits. To do this, watch for a long string of one color, and interrupt it with 3 balls of a different color. Shoot red balls into a yellow string, instead of taking them all out by adding another yellow. When the third red hits, you have two yellow strands connecting. This gives you more points and slows the game sufficiently for a shot at a coin or another combination.
Rapid fire the same color. In the example above, as the yellow chain closes and explodes, it actually helps to add a yellow ball, if one is up. It adds points.
Go for another frog life. At 50,000 points, you get another frog life. The easy way to get there is to start at a lower level and work up. For example, I’m in level 9 now, and find that if I start at 7, by the time I get to 9, I have some points saved up. If I start at 9, I die too early.
Have fun with this addictive game, even if you aren’t the right demographic. I have learned, however, to set a timer because an hour can zip by and you won’t notice it. I don’t have that much time to spare, so a timer helps remind me when to quit.
–Quinn McDonald is the owner of QuinnCreative, the home of training, creativity coaching, life coaching and paper arts. (c) 2007. All rights reserved. Zuma image courtesy osx.iusethis.com