Tumble

I'll Tumble 4 Ya...

A surprise Move launch title falls into our laps on the PSN!
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: September 20, 2010
The first comparison you are likely to make when seeing Tumble is Boom Blox on the Wii. While that is understandable, it is also a bit disingenuous when you break things down. Sure, they both are motion-controlled games that revolve around blocks, but while Boom Blox is all about party-style minigames and cutesy presentation, Tumble is a much more serious puzzle game that drapes itself in an austere environment that is reminiscent of an early build of Portal sans the sublime script and voice acting. It's also fair to note that while Boom Blox was a full priced retail game, Tumble is available for a mere $9.99 on the PSN. That doesn't mean it offers a fraction of the content though, as Tumble has enough variety and challenge to keep you occupied for far more time than many full priced titles. Throw in a decent multiplayer component, and Tumble becomes a virtual must-buy for early adopters of the Move.


At its core, Tumble is sort of like a reverse Jenga. Most levels revolve around taking a set of non-uniform blocks and stacking them as high as possible, or in some cases piling as many as possible onto a platform. Blocks come in standard cubes, odd shaped wedges, cones, barrels, eggs, things that look like the Washington Monument, Tetris shapes and many others. Not only that, blocks also have different properties based on their materials. Plastics are light and slippery, while rubber blocks are heavy and grippy. Wood, styrofoam, metal, and other materials are also available, and figuring out how to stack up all these to reach the heights needed for gold medals can require some serious thought. The physics might not be perfect, but they are convincing enough that you feel like it is your fault when everything collapses around you.

The single player campaign features twelve "zones", each of which contains five to eight levels. Those levels have four to six medals that can be awarded, and much like WipEout you need a set number of medals to unlock the next zone. Most levels offer the standard bronze, silver and gold medals, as well as one for getting gold within a certain time on each stage. Other awards are available for stacking special blocks in a specific order to reveal a picture, or stacking blocks into a specific zone. In addition to raising a tower to a certain height and piling all the blocks on a platform (which often has a pivot point and requires you to balance the blocks as you stack them), other levels have special requirements like "limbo" levels where a bar sweeps across your pile after each block placed and knocks off anything stacked too high. Anytime you get to a bronze medal in a level, letting a block tumble to the ground causes the level to end and you to get frustrated and try again if you hadn't achieved gold. Certain levels start with a tower already built, requiring you to place 3 mines around it and attempt to blow it as far apart as possible, which is far trickier than it sounds. Finally, there are challenge levels where you are given a small handful of oddly shaped pieces and are forced to use extremely precise balance to stack them to a certain height (like 2 cones and a Tetris piece). With over 100 levels spread across the 12 zones and over 500 medals to get, Tumble is not something you will breeze through in one sitting. Even after you beat the campaign, replaying levels is different every time as many of the blocks are randomized so they never play the same twice.

Once your friends come over and see you playing, they are probably going to want to get involved. Tumble offers a simple but wickedly fun multiplayer option to compete in either a three or five round tournament. These tournaments feature the same events as single player, except that players alternate turns and try and leave their opponent in untenable situations. Powerups scattered on the playfield will give you points for stacking blocks into them, or cause a rain of blocks to descend upon your hapless foe during their next turn. Tumble may be the ultimate "eff-you" game, where you can easily stack things perfectly precariously and throughly screw your pal.

Clearly in a game like this, control is vital to the experience, and Tumble does a good job of implementing Move. Things can be just a tad bit finicky at times, but a nice shadow helps you line up blocks before you place them, and simply pressing the move button lets you pan and tilt the camera to get a nice panoramic view of your tower. The controls are quite precise, and flicking your wrist rotates the block 90 degrees in any direction, which makes it so you don't need to twist your arm in painful ways to squeeze that block into that tight spot. There were a few times where the game seemed to have a bit of trouble with depth perception and it got a little awkward, but for the most part I was able to place pieces quickly and precisely.

If you bought a Move and you like puzzles, or even if you just like fun, give Tumble a chance (there is a robust demo available). There is a lot of depth and a lot of fun to be had at a very reasonable price, and it showcases Sony's new motion technology nicely.
The Verdict
9.0

Yes, Tumble is plain, but that just highlights the original gameplay mechanics and addictive nature of figuring out how to best complete each challenge. You won't find more bang for your buck among the Move launch titles.

5.0Graphics:

Textured blocks and a sterile room certainly aren't going to appeal to the graphic whore crowd, but they get the job done.

6.0Sound:

There isn't much here but some really forgettable background music and a very generic voiceover mingling with satisfying thuds of blocks falling into place.

8.0Control:

The Move controls are simple and responsive, but like all Move games, if you wander from the area you calibrated in things get a little squirrly. God help you if your dog walks in front of the camera when you are holding a block, it falls like a stone!

9.5Gameplay:

Simple yet elegant, anyone can play Tumble, but hardcore players will be able to use creativity to grab all the medals, some of which are pretty fiendish. Plenty of content with decent variety ensures you won't be bored anytime soon.