Tumblestone is a puzzle game that has us matching three colors to remove blocks from the play area. The twist is that the puzzles require some planning ahead to make sure we can get it right the first time. The game will reward us by giving us bonus experience points for a first time solve. When we play puzzle games we know that the game play will be repetitive, but what do the developers do to keep our interest for longer than 10 minutes at a time?
The puzzles in this game are well thought out and can become very challenging. The single player story seems to be best suited for the handheld market. Fortunately, the Switch falls into that category. This is a fun title to pass the time or to exercise our brains wherever we hang our hat. If someone is really good at puzzle games this can be a long-lasting experience that will keep them entertained for quite some time. Since there is really only one way to beat each board, you’ll need to plan ahead and do your best to conquer each puzzle and move on to the next one. You see, you can’t just match three same-colored stones to get rid of them. The trick is to pick the right combination of three to gain access to the colors lurking above them for the next move. Only by successfully removing every stone from the board will you win the round. Each new world or area reveals a new playing experience to challenge players and keep the game feeling new and interesting.
The arcade gives us a few different ways to play Tumblestone that really freshens the gameplay up quite a bit. The Infinipuzzle mode features a static playing board with a glass window and the object is to move the window higher and higher to give yourself more playing room. Heartbeat mode is a constantly moving board that challenges your ability to think faster and clear stones as quickly as possible. The arcade really does add some cool ways to make this a fun game to keep players coming back for more.
I enjoyed playing the main quest a great deal. There are boss battles that give you an idea of what the multiplayer is like. The story is pretty funny and adds that little nudge that makes you keep saying to yourself: “Okay… just one more board!” but before you know it, that often turns into 10. This makes it hard to go to bed on time, so be warned! Set aside some time to play the main quest because there is reportedly over 40 hours worth of game to get through. I love the creativity the team at The Quantum Astrophysicist Guild put into this title. The characters have personality and I have to admit that I laughed at the ugly troll’s infatuation with the Egyptian Queen. Not to give story away, but at one point he uses a couple of Tumblestones as avatars for himself and the Egyptian Queen and plays out a little fantasy he has regarding his desires for her.
Where this game really shines is in multiplayer. I was able to play a few rounds with some friends (the Warp Zone podcast crew) and we had a really good time! It was fast paced, crazy, and I kind of think Mike wanted to punch me a couple of times because I beat him by 1 or 2 Tumblestones throughout the evening. You can play up to four players simultaneously all on the same screen with four different boards, just like Puyo Puyo Tetris. Whoever can solve the puzzle fastest wins. There are several modes here, including tug of war, which can add different variables to the round. If you want a fun and exciting puzzle game to play with your pals, this is definitely going to be near the top of lists for multiplayer mayhem. I think it says a lot that Mike immediately purchased the game after we played for a few rounds.
Overall I can recommend Tumblestone as a solid puzzle gaming experience. I did end up playing it mostly in handheld mode, but TV mode is a must for multiplayer, plus you don’t crane your neck as much. I know this is available on many different systems, but the Switch really is the best way to play it since you can either take it with you OR play it on a big screen. Plus it’s easy to just break off the Joy-Cons and initiate a 2 player match. No other format gives us this ability and it’s one of the many reasons I love the Switch so much.