Tumbledrop review

This game could possibly have the highest cute factor of any other on the appstore. Smiley characters?… check! Bright colours? check! Fluffy white clouds and Rainbows?… check! I think you get the idea!…

Tumbledrop is created by one of the artists responsible for the excellent Lost Winds on Wii. It doesn’t share any familiarity with that game, not even in it’s graphical style…. what it does show though is an eye for both alluring visual style and game design. It’s simple yes, but it’s that simplicity that makes even more charming… to the point of addictive.

The object of the game is to get a pink star that starts atop a tower of different shaped blocks, safely down to the ground. To do this you must remove the other blocks, which topples the structure thus bringing our cute little star closer to home. The skill is to do this without the star falling into water surrounding the land. A solid physics system allows the objects to behave in a natural way, so you can usually predict where the shapes will fall, however, with more objects added, as well as more complex structures, it can tax the little grey cells.

928060_4What makes Tumbledrop more interesting than similar games out there, is the addition of time restriction. When you remove a block, you cannot remove another directly afterwards. Instead you must wait for a short countdown before your next turn. Of course this short time can feel like a lifetime as you watch the tower topple before your eyes, so selecting the right block to remove first, or next, is paramount. As long as your star is touching the ground, you will move on to the next puzzle.

There are three difficulty settings, each unlocked as you progress. The first five levels are unlocked so even if you struggle with one, you can play another and go back to it later. The easy levels, as they say, are very easy. Medium adds in some trickier towers, usually perilously balancing on a single triangle. Balloons are also introduced which can be popped, and will lift any object not tied down off into the air, including at times your pink star. The final hard levels are more of the same.

While you can complete all levels within an hour or two, the gratification comes from the amount of moves it takes you to complete them. Each level has two achievement objectives, the easiest is completing the level within 8 or 9 moves. However, for the more hardcore out there, it’s all about earning the star and completing it within 2-3 moves. On completing the game, you are promised more levels soon, but even with it’s shortish experience, I can assure you you’ll want to go back and try all within 2-3 moves.

928060_3While it might not be to everyones tastes, I really love the art style. A bright Japanese cartoon look, with a minimalist cloudy background, and featuring blocks with small eyes and mouths. Your star itself exhibits a big smile when he touches land, and you can’t help feel emotionally attached to the little pink bastard! Especially when you fail him and he tumbles to his death with an expression of sorrow on his ten-sided mug. The user interface is equally stylish, and I particularly like the way each level seamlessly scrolls into the next… a nice little touch that doesn’t break your flow with ugly loading screens, adding instead to that addictive one-more-go feel of the game.

Despite it’s short nature, Tumbledrop is challenging, charming, and above all fun. Despite being a higher price than I expected for this kind of game (£1.99 as apposed to $0.99), it’s worth picking up. It’s perfect for that dull journey to work, and is sure to raise a smile… even when you have a bad case of the mondays.


Tumbledrop is out now for $1.99

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  • Tim

    Good review. I will be checking this one out. It could be the rare game that both the wife and myself can equally enjoy and compete for high score supremacy.


    The game definitely looks great. BTW whats up with giving the game getting one score. i remember when there was four other categories at the end of the review… i was just wondering whether you are still going to do that or not??

  • Tim

    I think I recall Nigel saying on the podcast that they weren’t going to use the complex scores due to some contention over scores in the comments sections and that he’d do away with all the scores if he could since that takes focus away from the important part–the review itself. And while I agree with that, I do think it’s nice to have one score as a way of comparing the game to other games in the genre. It helps me decide what to buy, after all and I think Nigel is right in that you at least need the one score, although it is regrettable how often people will take issue with a score and disregard the entire review.

    If I’m incorrect about any of that, I’m sure Nigel or someone else will clarify. :)

  • Nigel Wood, UK

    You are on the money there Tim :)

  • Tim

    Oh by the way, with the release of GTA: Chinatown Wars I fear that Tumbledrop is going to be pushed back in my queue. But it’s next on my playlist at the moment.

  • Tim

    Alright, I had some fun with GTA and went on and picked up Tumbledrop today anyway. Gotta say, I think it’s fantastic. The visual design and artwork is superb, some of the best I’ve seen on the iphone. They are cute, yes, but I’ll go right on ahead and say it–the animations and colors just make me smile.

    The physics are really fun too. Right now the game is a bit buggy, (the developer has promised to fix the bugs in an already-submitted update) but otherwise even the difficult levels aren’t frustrating. Rather, it made me laugh just about every time I watched my pink star suddenly gasp with terror while he was falling over the edge of the platform.

    The sound could be a bit better, perhaps. Although it fits the experience, it doesn’t match the visual quality level.

    I’d give it four stars, with the possibility of it moving up to 4 and 1/2 with future updates. Maybe even a 5 if there were a major update that allowed for some skin customization or more varied backgrounds. Yeah, I really really like it.