“Whatcha playin’?”
“Mmm. What’s the point?”
“Point? Get three of the same color in a row to get rid of the balls.”
“What’s that thing in the middle?”
“… That’s a frog.”
“And he’s spitting balls out of his mouth?”
“What’s that one with the flashing circle do?”
“It explodes when you get rid of it.”
“Oh.” *a pause* “No! Over there!”
“Don’t touch my mouse, please.”
“Sorry.” *another pause* “Why are they moving backwards?”
“Because I got a reverse?”
“Oh.” *beat* “No, put that one there and they’ll explode!”
“Here, let me do it!”
“Hey! What the hell are you doing?”
“Hmm… this is more fun than I thought it would be.”
“Yeah… now can I have my mouse back, please?”
“Just a sec… I’ve almost cleared this board.”
“Urgh… You know what, whatever. Have fun.”
“Where are you going?”
“To find something to eat.”

* * *

Zuma is a Flash game, developed by PopCap Games and found on Shockwave.com, among other places. The point of this game is, of course, to get rid of all the balls by making color matches of three or more in a row.

Voted a “Player’s Choice” game by Shockwave users, Zuma is surprisingly addictive. Sure, it sounds simple… just shoot the balls where you’ll get a match, right? But once you start juggling multiple rows of balls crossing and intertwining and trying to get power-ups and line up chain scores (when you get three-in-a-rows for multiple shots in a row), all the while with those damnable grinning skulls that signify “game over” gaping at you, you’ll understand.

My main problem with this game is that whenever I try to play it with another human being nearby, they invariably come over to watch, and I inevitably end up losing control of my computer. Thus, I am reduced to hiding my addiction until the wee hours of the morning, when all “civilized” people are fast asleep.

For the interested, you can find Zuma here and here. The first requires that you have Macromedia Shockwave installed, the second requires that you download PopCap’s software. Take your pick.

There is a downloadable version available on Shockwave.com which comes equipped with better graphics and more gameplay options, including "Adventure" mode, which is simply increasingly more difficult levels, and "Gauntlet" mode, which is a continual stream of colored balls. The number of colors increases as time goes on, creating more and more chaos.

m_turner says should mention the full version is downloadable/installable that has more features and better graphics.
StrawberryFrog says Zuma is now out for palm and pocket pc.
TenMinJoe says re Zuma: Zuma is now available to play on the latest iPods!
TenMinJoe says
re Zuma: My girlfriend is now addicted to playing this on Xbox 360, where it's available as a "Marketplace" download. Zuma lives on!