With more highly publicised titles such as Sports Champions and Start the Party! being the centrepiece of the PlayStation Move launch library, it would be easy not to notice Sony’s new budget puzzle game Tumble neatly tucked away on the PSN Store.
Playing seemingly like a digital version of the classic Jenga and a little reminiscent of Boom Box for the Wii, at its most basic level Tumble is all about stacking blocks up to a certain height and preventing them all from toppling over. On internet paper it doesn’t sound like the most exciting premise for a game however, so can the technology of the PlayStation Move bring this puzzling premise to the 21st century?
Tumble seems to have been built purely as a fitting demonstration of the astonishing accuracy of the PlayStation Move controller. As the blocks are sprawled across the floor, a virtual on-screen Move controller acts as a cursor to pick them up by holding the trigger button before letting it go to place the block.
The ability to freely manipulate the position of the blocks with the Move controller in a 3D space proves to be a surreal experience: your actions are captured with pinpoint accuracy, allowing you to subtly adjust your tower with delicate precision. A simple thrust of the controller will also alter the angle of your current block in the direction you aim and you can also control the field of depth by moving away or towards the camera, which truly adds to the immersion.
As you stack each block, the pacing is slow but undoubtedly tense since the physics of each object behave exactly as you would expect – hastily rush through a challenge and you will suffer the consequences when your standing tower wobbles precariously due to a misplaced block, before tumbling down before you. You therefore have to concentrate when it comes to placing the blocks and avoid the temptation to carelessly drop them from great heights. It’s frustrating and you will certainly curse a lot at Tumble‘s adherence to realism, but, like all good puzzlers, the addicting challenge spurs you on for another retry.
Divided into 13 zones comprising of multiple stages that amount to nearly 70 levels, Tumble soon becomes an almighty, long-lasting challenge at that. There are bronze, silver and gold medals to achieve in each level, which are awarded so long as your structure can withstand a three second countdown when you reach each set height. The difficulty soon ramps up however, with later levels only accessible upon achieving the higher-tier medals.
One of Tumble‘s perks is there’s never any shortage of variety. Tumble evolves from its simple premise of stacking blocks by introducing increasingly inventive new factors and gameplay modes every few levels, from balancing them on seesaws to contending with earthquakes. Later levels become almost mind-boggling difficult when the previously simple blocks are mixed up with the most awkward shapes imaginable, along with various properties such as weight and material to take into consideration – the only downside is that they are sometimes selected at random during intervals, making it harder to strategise when retrying some levels.
Additional game modes such as Destruction also come into play, requiring you to strategically place a set of mines to detonate a pre-made structure – points are awarded depending on how far the set of blocks travel after the explosion. Even more thought provoking are later puzzles that require you to adjust mirrors and blocks in order to guide a laser to the end goal. Both of these modes are worthwhile diversions from the standard block-stacking levels, and the constant variation makes progressing through Tumble an intriguing and rewarding endeavour.
While the motion-tracking in Tumble is usually flawless, there are some occasions where it doesn’t feel completely accurate, although a quick press of the circle button will swiftly recalibrate the controller, fortunately. Of more concern, however, is the sticky camera – by holding the Move button you can sway the camera around to get a better angle of your impending failure, but it’s too sluggish to be of any use if you’re after the additional time-based awards. An option to adjust the sensitivity would have been useful here, and the level restarts are also too slow for a game that is heavily weighted on trial and error.
Tumble also suffers from the same sterile presentation issues that plagued Sports Champions. The location is always the same bland, laboratory-esque environment and the voiceover that guides you is that of a monotone British female that’s devoid of any personality whatsoever, giving the game a mechanic, experimental feel that reminds me somewhat of Portal. I particularly take offence to the way the voice patronisingly gloats whenever you achieve a medal below gold – “you got a bronze,” it states with a sarcastic emphasis. It’s as if the game is openly mocking my under-achievement.
Tumble’s single-player would have been a more than substantial package alone, but it manages to go the extra mile by including additional multiplayer options. One mode has you passing the controller to stack a set of three blocks, with points being awarded for each block placement whilst earning power-ups that either multiply your score or cause earthquakes to thwart your competitor. Alternatively, two controllers can be used to attempt to build the highest possible tower head-to-head. While it’s not much different to the single player offerings, the inclusion of multiplayer is nonetheless welcome and entertaining.
So there you have it: by far the cheapest Move launch title turns out to be one of the best. The unrelenting difficulty may not suit everyone’s tastes, but Tumble offers superb value for money at a modest £7.99, and is certainly a much more innovative utilisation of the controller than the obligatory sports and party titles.
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Right down to the plain loading screens, Tumble's bland presentation gives it a bit of a tech-demo feel.
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Tumble's puzzles become increasingly challenging and diverse, and the act of positioning the objects with the motion controller is equally satisfying.
The thud of the blocks is convincing, but the patronisingly monotone voiceover soon grates.
With nearly 70 puzzles and multiple medals to achieve, Tumble offers no shortage of lastability for the dedicated player.
Tumble is a novel idea that’s well suited for the PlayStation Move, offering a plethora of innovative challenges at a very modest price.