By: Matthew Striplen
The continued rise in popularity of mobile games has given birth to a new gaming genre: color matching games. With an emphasis on accessibility, these games make it possible for players to pick up their phones to play for just a few minutes. Tumblestone is the next game to follow in the footsteps of titles like Bejeweled and Candy Crush.
Tumblestone places players in the shoes of the Queen of the Nile, among others. She must maneuver around under the colorful Tumblestones to destroy them, using either the control stick or d-pad. The d-pad tends to be a bit more accurate, but the controls feel very tight regardless of your choice.
Also, pressing R/L instantaneously warps Queen to either the right or left side of the screen. This is very useful, as it enables players to execute more moves in a limited amount of time.
Tumblestone‘s cartoonish aesthetic fits the lighthearted tone of the game. Everything is full of bright colors and round, friendly shapes. The Tumblestones themselves have strangely contorted expressions, possibly indicating their awareness of their impending doom.
Music stays under the radar for the most part, providing ambient, relaxing tunes. A little more variety would have definitely helped shake up the repetition.
One morning, the Queen of the Nile awakes to discover hundreds of Tumblestones are running rampant. It’s up to her and her friends to discover the cause of the Tumblestone’s return and destroy them once and for all.
That’s pretty much all the story we’re given, though a handful of cut scenes provide a little more backstory and insight into the characters’ relationships. However, most of the writing is very forgettable and the jokes are forced. Although this game is clearly designed with kids in mind, throwing the adults a bone or two would’ve been nice.
Tumblestone‘s heart and soul is its gameplay. Matching three of the same colored Tumblestone destroys all three, but there’s much more than meets the eye. Instead of swapping neighboring tiles to match three in a row, the player can choose any three Tumblestones, but they must be closest to the player.
Players must eliminate the blocks in such a way that they clear a path to the next set. If you can’t complete a set of three, you have to restart the level.
Like Bejeweled and similar puzzle games, Tumblestone uses a simple mechanic and greatly expands it. The main story mode slowly introduces new gameplay elements, like indestructible blocks, generally after completing each world. If you get tired of the campaign mode, there are tons of other options as well.
Marathon mode features an endless stream of Tumblestones descending behind a glass barrier. Unlike standard play, this allows players to combine mixed colors, but at the cost of adding an extra row of Tumblestones and lowering the ceiling. If the Tumblestones reach your character, it’s game over.
Heartbeat mode also has an endless stream of Tumblestones, but this time they’re constantly moving toward you. It’s a race against time to destroy the stones faster than they appear. Again, if you incorrectly combine colors, extra rows of Tumblestones will be added.
Lastly, we have Infinipuzzle. This unique mode offers two styles of play, with or without the “modifier of the day.” Without modifiers, this mode has players once again facing a moving wall of Tumblestones, but instead of a continuous stream, the Tumblestones are broken up into groups separated by indestructible blocks.
All stones must be cleared before moving onto the next group. Enabling modifiers randomly places power-ups within the stones. The type of modifier depends completely on when you’re playing the game.
There’s one more mode I neglected to mention: multiplayer. Tumblestone features both online and local multiplayer, though the online community is currently a little scarce. Players have the choice of either a Quick Match or playing through the Modifier of the Day for online play.
If you can’t find a friend, players can use an AI instead, and wow, this AI doesn’t pull any punches. If you crank up the AI strength, it’s nearly impossible to win.
Tumblestone may look innocent enough on the surface, but blistering difficulty awaits. Although the game does a decent job of warming up the player, the delineation between a “normal” level and a hard one is always clear.
If you’re in it for the long haul, never fear. Tumblestone boasts an impressive amount of levels, which should last the player at least 40 hours.
If you’re into match-three games, Tumblestone is one of the best the genre has to offer. With the shifting styles of play, this game will constantly keep you on your toes. The huge number of levels paired with the multitude of modes, including local and online multiplayer, are sure to keep players entertained.