A few months ago, I reviewed PopCap Hits Vol. 1
and came down pretty hard on it. The inherent problem I had with it was that Bejeweled 2 and AstroPop were available for free on the Web but PopCap was charging $20 for them on the PlayStation 2.
It's pretty much the same story with PopCap Hits Vol. 2, except that PS2 owners are getting Zuma and Heavy Weapon this time.
Zuma gives you control of a stone frog that spits colored marbles. See, there's a track that's filled with other colored marbles around the frog and you've got to shoot your marbles into the line of other marbles so that you're creating matching lines color. If you get three or more matches in a row, the balls disappear. You're trying to get rid of every marble on the track before they roll into a skull's mouth. If the balls get in the mouth, it's game over -- kind of like a game of Twister. There are some power-up marbles out there that push the balls back or slow down time and you have the ability to swap balls, but you've got the basics down for now. You'll play these ball-spitting games through Adventure mode (gameplay is broken up into 20 multi-part temples with each level getting harder and harder) and Gauntlet (choose a map and survive as long as you can).
Meanwhile, Heavy Weapon is your typical side-scrolling shoot-em up. You play as a little green tank (blue if you're player two) that moves from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen blasting all the helicopters, jets, jeeps, and bombs that get in your way. When you reach the end of the level -- there's a beach, rural area, etc. -- you'll go up against a boss such as a Zeppelin, homing-missile laden aircraft, and a battleship. Of course, power-ups are getting dropped during all of this craziness that grant you speed, firepower, and protection. You can even collect pieces of a mega-laser and (once assembled) blast the hell out of everything. When you polish off a level, you can choose to upgrade one of six aspects of your tank -- defense orbs, homing missiles, laser, etc, -- for your next deployment.
Chances are, you've heard of these games. They've taken the interwebs by storm with simple controls, quick gameplay sessions, and fun times. You really don't need me to tell you that they're fun, but I'm going to because it's my job. Zuma challenges you to shoot as fast as you can process information and quickly goes from easy to frantic. Heavy Weapon just gives you the joy of blowing stuff up and upgrading your machine.
So the games are good, but I'm presented with the same question I had with Vol. 1. Is it worth $20? Sadly, I have the same answer ("No."), but I'm not as adamant about it this time.
Here's the thing about Zuma and Heavy Weapon: they're both fun titles, but they're designed to be something you pump 15 minutes into and forget. That method's been the bread-and-butter of PC games like these, and that's fine. It's a formula that keeps desk jockeys from swallowing their tongue in some kind of spreadsheet-induced seizure. However, you can Google either one of these titles and find a plethora of sites that are willing to let you play at least expansive samples of Zuma and Heavy Weapon for free. I have to imagine that those complementary tidbits are more than enough to fill your daily need to spit balls or blow up enemies.
Do you really need to invest $20 in the endeavor?
If the answer is "Yes, I desperately need to play every Zuma/Heavy Weapon level available," you might be getting a decent deal out of this collection. Right now, PopCap's charging $20 each for the full downloads of Zuma and Heavy Weapon. If you -- PopCap fanatic -- go with the PS2 package and save $20 over the PC games, keep in mind you're going to be playing this on the aging PlayStation 2. There's no widescreen, the images are all muddled, and there's no sign of the detail and polish you'd find on the PC.
Making all of this even sadder is that Bejeweled 2, AstroPop, Zuma, and Feeding Frenzy were packed on the same disc as part of PopCap Arcade Vol. 1 on the Xbox 360. The price for those four games, Achievements, and HD visuals? Twenty bucks. Kind of makes shelling out your hard-earned Washingtons a bit harder for this blurred, two-game PS2 title.
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