A seasoned casual gamer will take one look at Charma and immediately write it off as a Chuzzle clone.
After all, not only do the names of the games sound the same but they both star cute, furry and colorful little balls with eyes on them.
Plus, both Chuzzle and Charma are both 3-in-a-row games, whereby creating at least three same-colored fuzzies in a line destroys them.
After 5 minutes of play, however, you’ll see it’s not the same game, but rather a cross between Chuzzle and casual games like Zuma.
Before we get into specifics, the story surrounds these hapless peoples known as the Charmies, who live in the once-beautiful and peaceful land of Charma, now burned to a crisp by a malevolent magician. Your job is to safely guide these cute Charmies through many perilous environments – ranging from lava-filled abysses and dense forests to snowy plains and swamps — and help restore their homeland in the process.
Similar to games like the popular Zuma, the Charmies snake out onto the screen in a specific pattern and you must match at least three same-colored critters in a row, which removes them from the board, to prevent the marching line from reaching the dangerous end. But unlike Zuma you don’t shoot an object towards the twisting line – instead you must click on a colored Charmie, such as a red one, and swap it with another Charmie on the chain, so that it creates at least three red Charmies in a row. After the first batch of Charmies come out and are cleared, more follow until the entire tribe are removed from the board.
Power-ups appear in the middle of the beard from time to time, such as one that destroys all nearby Charmies, another that temporary reverses the order of them and a third that stops them in their path for a limited time. Also, "wild card" Charmies, which flash in a variety of colors, can be used as a joker so that it will count towards any color you need.
Charma is a very charming and adorable game with amazing graphics – the levels are beautifully drawn and the cute Charmies look soft and furry – but aside from its lack of originality, there are some technical issues I struggled with in trying to review this game. That is, on the two computers I tried to play this on – a Windows XP-based laptop and a Windows Vista-based desktop PC (both of which met the game’s minimum system requirements) – the game would freeze for about 5 seconds every 60 to 90 seconds, flash to black, and then resume again, before repeating the process again and again. Needless-to-say, this was annoyingly disruptive.
But even without these technical glitches – just in case this only happened on my computers and no one else’s – I still stand by my score of 3.5 out of 5 as it’s a good but not great game. If the game-play depth and breadth matched its high cuteness factor and amazing graphics, then perhaps it would be deserving of a higher nod from us here at Gamezebo.