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.
What 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.
While 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