By Jeff Haynes,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Match-3 game is challenging but becomes boring quickly.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
No positive, negative messages.
Positive Role Models
Players take on role of assorted characters (Cleopatra, Goblin King, sausage with hands), but no information about who they are, what they want.
Ease of Play
Simple controls; easy to learn. Difficulty comes in adjusting to speed of some game modes.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tumblestone is a puzzle game for the Wii U. There's no objectionable content in this game, as players try to clear colored blocks. Some stages can frustrate some players, either because of the speed of the descending blocks or the complex nature of solving some puzzles.
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What’s It About?
TUMBLESTONE is a puzzle game based on the traditional match-3-style gameplay. Players select a colored block and must then choose two additional blocks of the same color to clear the set. Most of the puzzles players are presented with are prearranged, so the goal is simply to eliminate every block that's on-screen. There are multiple modes for players to try out, such as the fast-paced Heartbeat mode that constantly descends down the screen, requiring you to clear blocks quickly. There's also the Marathon mode, which tests how far you can go without making a mistake, and a large story mode across a dozen worlds, each with tons of puzzles to complete. Up to four players also can compete against each other in Puzzle Races, with high scores being added to the game's leaderboards.
Is It Any Good?
This twist on match-3 games is fun, but its repetitive play will only appeal to puzzle fans and even then will only keep their attention for so long. Tumblestone takes a different approach to match-3 play, because you're only able to clear blocks instead of moving them around. You won't slide blocks like in Tetris, collect them and place them in groups, or complete other gimmicky matching-puzzle actions. Nor are there options to match four or more blocks to clear additional space on the board. While that might sound simplistic, it breaks the game down into a more methodical style of play: You only focus on three moves at a time. That's important, because stages are never as simple as they first appear. Whether the game puts rocks that have to be cleared at the top of the screen, or gives you lanes that can only be accessed on alternating turns, players need to concentrate on stages to successfully complete a level. Some of these stages are tricky but not impossible. In fact, while you'll get skip tokens to clear difficult stages, you probably won't need to use them if you retry a stage a few times and reexamine your steps. There are also some twists, such as puzzle boss fights, where you have to clear a sequence of puzzles in a row, or puzzle races, where you have to clear your board before your opponent does.
But there are some larger problems with Tumblestone as well. The story mode for the game is largely forgettable. In fact, there really isn't a reason why characters such as a sausage with hands, a tiger, and Cleopatra are all playing and clearing blocks, other than that the designers thought it would be clever. Unfortunately, you don't really care about any of these characters or the idea behind their existence. Another issue is that some gameplay elements don't feel fleshed out. You gain experience for completing puzzles in any one of the game modes, but it doesn't translate to unlockable content or secret items. In many ways, it feels like an unfinished segment of the game that could have added a lot of depth. But one of the biggest issues is that the gameplay becomes very repetitive. The feeling of clearing one difficult puzzle is the same as clearing the first puzzle. As a result, only the most dedicated puzzle or match-3 fans will truly enjoy this game. Other players may find that after hopping on with a friend or with other players online, they'll quickly tire of this bland format.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about screen time. Due to its design, Tumblestone is likely to lead to shorter rather than longer play sessions, but why do some games make us want to play for hours on end while others leave us satisfied and happy to move on after only 10 or 15 minutes?
Families also can talk about puzzle-solving. Tumblestone requires players to solve some tricky match-3 puzzles, sometimes under timed pressure, but do you prefer solving puzzles on a timer or at your own pace? Why?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysicists
- Release date: November 1, 2016
- Genre: Puzzle
- ESRB rating: E for No Descriptions
- Last updated: November 1, 2019
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