Tumblestone (Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, PC)

TUMBLE_BOXTumblestone is a puzzle game that hearkens back to the puzzlers that had a bit of a boon in the late 80’s and 90’s.  When you see it, you may think of games like Puzzle Bobble, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo, Cleopatra Fortune, or Magical Drop (especially Magical Drop).  The top of your well playfield is covered with colored blocks, and you move a character around on the bottom. Line them up to a block at the top and press a button to take it away and it’ll move to the top of the screen.  Then you must match two more squares of the same color before you can repeat the process again.  So yeah, it really reminded me of Magical Drop, except less arcade-y and more cerebral.  It’s available to download on computers, Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U, but you can also get physical disc copies of it on the PS4 and Wii U.  That version on the Wii U is what’s reviewed here.

The cool thing about Tumblestone is it may seem like such a simple idea, but there are a wide variety of gameplay modes.  The main single player experience is the Story Mode.  Here you move each character around on a map, and solve a puzzle on every stop.  You must make sure to always leave three of a color to match, or you’ll have to start the stage over.  It takes a lot of planning, and is tougher than it sounds.  Sometimes you may have to solve a succession of puzzles or battle another character on certain spots on the map.  This mode is how you unlock characters to use in the other parts as well.  As you solve puzzles, you’ll gain experience and level up, although I don’t know what good that does.

There are some arcade modes for single players as well.  In Marathon, you must clear the blocks below a certain line, but if you have to use a block above the line, the whole row of blocks will move down.  In Heartbeat, the rows of blocks creep slowly down, and you must clear them as quickly as you can.  If you can’t match three, they’ll go down even faster!  When they reach the bottom, it’s Game Over.  Finally, in Infinipuzzle, you’ll solve puzzles similar to the ones in Story Mode until you mess up.  You can also tackle quests which give you a boost of experience points when completed, and then they’ll add more quests to replace it.

But where the game really shines in in Multiplayer.  Up to four can play at the same time, and you can even go online!  You can do a quick match or use a daily modifier (like a power-up) to change up the matches.  You can also play couch local as well, and there are many modes of that.  In Puzzle Race, you must clear out your field to win, but if you mess up you must start over, which may give the other players a head start.  You’ll solve smaller puzzles as the blocks scroll down in Tug of War, and in Battle, the blocks will slowly creep down as you match blocks quickly.

The only problems I had with this game are pretty minor.  I wish there was an ‘undo’ mode for the puzzle sections in single player, as it can get frustrating when you mess up and have to start the puzzle all the way over.  You can get coins to use to skip tough puzzles, but they are few and far between.  I’d rather have a hint option instead.  Also, I don’t know if it’s because of the slightly generic visuals, music, and characters, but the game lacks a tiny bit of the charm that the puzzle games of the 90’s had.

But other than that, this is a fantastic puzzle game.  Call me old fashioned, but I think it’s cool that this game has a physical disc copy, since most of the time these titles are download only.  Even better, it’s less than half the price of a regular game, so it’s a great deal.  If you like puzzlers, you’ll definitely want to check it out!


Kid Factor:

Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not necessary just to play, as it is pretty simple to figure out.  Younger gamers may get bored of the basic gameplay and frustrated at the tough puzzles.  Since the game encourages planning, logic, and other thinking skills, it could be considered somewhat educational.  Tumblestone is rated E for Everyone.

One Response to “Tumblestone (Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, PC)”

  1. I overlooked this when I saw it, but now that you mention Magical Drop, I’m in.

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