While you could head out and buy a Nintendo DS and a copy of Magnetica, you can get a very similar experience and play Zuma online for free.
Where to Play Zuma Online for Free
There a number of similar online puzzle games out there that make use of the "match three" gameplay dynamic -- Bejeweled and Jewel Quest immediately come to mind -- but Zuma plays more like Bust-A-Move, except the marbles are encircling a deathly skull rather than being connected to one another at the top of the screen. Zuma is a great option for "Twitch gamers" as it provides frantic and fast-paced gameplay and a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle game experience.
Zuma Puzzle Game Background
In a nutshell, Zuma charges you with the task of eliminating a long line of different colored marbles as they slowly move their way toward a deadly skull or "the end of the line" as it were. Should this train of colorful balls reach this skull, the game is over. You don't want that to happen.
To make the marbles disappear, you need to create sets of three (or more) of the same colored balls. These marbles are shot out of a stone frog's mouth, typically in the center of the screen. Check out our review of Zuma for a better idea of what the game is like, and to master it, you should definitely have a read through our Zuma Walkthrough and Guide.
Websites with Zuma
Besides Yahoo! Games, there are several other websites that also offer the popular puzzle game. You can check out Zuma at the following online destinations, many of which offer several other free online games for you to try as well. Best of all, most don't require a membership of any kind. Just click and you're playing within seconds. Functionally, you'll find the gameplay on all of these sites to be nearly identical.
PopCap Games is considered by some to be the Mecca of free online gaming. As such, it should come as little surprise that it contains Zuma. You get two choices: there is a free online game, but if you want a fuller experience, you can opt for the Zuma Deluxe download.
The free online game has the four stages described in our Zuma Walkthrough and Guide article. When you complete a set of four stages, you move up to the next level and play the same four stages again, only the marbles move towards the death skull faster. The game opens in the same Internet browser window and is one of the least cluttered web pages out there. On the left hand side, you'll see brief instructions as to how to play Zuma, and near the top, you'll see a simple PopCap banner. It's non-intrusive. When you click away from the main window, it automatically pauses the game, which is a very nice touch for when you need to answer the phone or what-have-you.
The Zuma Deluxe downloaded version gives you a 60 minute trial period, giving you access to Adventure and Gauntlet modes, as well as several additional "bonus" marbles. They remind you of how much game time you have left. At the beginning, middle and end, you'll be asked if you would like to purchase the full version of Zuma for $19.95. With the full version, you can enjoy 20 different maps (instead of the four you get in the free online version), 75+ levels of difficulty, and an ongoing record of your high scores and best times.
Big Fish Games
Big Fish Games, despite its name, is not the biggest fish in the pond of online games. Unlike several other sites that have a free, completely online version of Zuma, Big Fish only offers the puzzle game as a download, meaning that you cannot play it at most Internet cafes and the like. The price is the same as PopCap Games, with a free trial version and a $24.95 (CAD) full version. You can save up to 65%, though, through a special Big Fish Games offer here, but you will be bound to a contract that forces you to buy additional games from them over the course of the next 3, 6 or 12 months. Prices can be as low as $6.99 per game. Big Fish Games offers a Mac-friendly edition of Zuma as well.
Shockwave has many popular online games, including our friend here today, Zuma. Like PopCap Games, there is a free online version of the game, a free trial download, and -- the granddaddy of them all -- the full download for $19.95. When you click on "Play Online", Shockwave automatically opens a new web browser window where the actual game will be played. I found the banner ad at the bottom of this new window to be a little distracting, especially if the advertisement was an animated banner. One thing that I did like, however, is that Shockwave recommends three similar games near the top of the window and this could introduce you to titles that you have not yet tried, like Memory Loops, Mad Caps, or PhotoJam 4 Deluxe.