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Review: Tumble (Move)

Overcoming Move's Tumbling blocks.

Tumble works best when it’s at its most simple: using the PlayStation Move controller to delicately stack blocks of varying materials onto other blocks in order to create enough height (with enough stability) to bag a Gold medal. It’s an intrinsic, core principle that appeals to anyone that’s ever owned a pile of wooden bricks, or, to a lesser extent, some LEGO. The Move’s precision positioning lets you place the blocks absolutely where you want them to go and the gyroscopic sensors mean that you can angle them just as accurately – it’s only when you play something like Tumble, that doesn’t necessarily punish you for taking your time, that you can truly see what the Move controller is capable of.

Hence, unless the game’s being crafty with its pre-determined set of blocks (and sometimes it’s a bit of a lottery) the combination of precise control and unquestionable physics mean that if you fail, it’s because it’s your fault, not the game’s. Yes, some of the interaction between different types of surfaces are a little suspect, but nothing you can’t learn by rote and whilst the frictionless glass and the ultra sticky rubber can be frustrating at first, they’re not a problem after the first 10 minutes or so. No, when the game’s fair, it’s brilliant, and twisting and turning the wand quickly becomes second nature, and your times at any given level can rapidly improve with just a few attempts.

Which is good, because each level barring the first (and any special, bonus levels) has a number of stars to collect, with the obvious Bronze, Silver and Gold for the heights achieved (and you must show that the structure can balance for three seconds before getting a medal) but there’s also a strict time limit based star and one for hitting a target that floats in a given location in each level. The camera’s mostly on top form, but can be adjusted by holding down the Move button and angling the wand, with the Square button offering a quick (and welcome) zoom out should you need it. Most importantly, and something I’d like to see in every Move-enabled game, is the quick centre function mapped to circle, which instantly re-calibrates the onscreen pointer.

Tumble’s Height levels, then, are brilliant. Where the game starts to crumble a little is with the introduction of other gametypes, often completely unnessary. The destruction sections, where you gain points for blowing up an existing tower, don’t really carry the same gravitas – the limpet mines woolly and unpredictable and the point scoring equally so, for example. Likewise, the pre-set puzzle levels where the game becomes a bizarre, slightly clunky version of LittleBigPlanet’s Create mode interrupt the flow of the game. Finally, the game’s decision to start changing the fundamentals, such as the way the main board is angled, or – sigh – making it spin change what should have been a gradual increase in difficulty into something much less smooth.

However, such spikes can be avoided by anyone except the most compulsive, because Tumble’s Wipeout-esque grid of levels opens up progressively regardless of the colour of your medal – only the most basic completion is necessary and you certainly don’t need to beat every level in a pack to open up the next. There’s loads of levels, too, representing a serious single player investment if you’re to 100% the game and grab every single star on offer. If that’s your goal, we wish you all the luck in the world, but most of us mortals will be happy enough just to see the end of the game. It’s good that Supermassive Games can unobtrusively cater for the hardcore, though.

In terms of multiplayer, there are two modes. The first is a pass-the-Move affair with each player placing three blocks in turn, scoring points as they go and the second is a type of race where the two players create a structure in their own half of the screen with the twist being that the camera follows the taller of the two towers, with the player who’s blocks are out of view losing the round. Both modes are fun diversions but it’s clear the single player section was the target of most of the development work.

Tumble’s a clever game, and most definitely shows off the PlayStation Move, instantly distancing itself from the similar (but far less accurate and three-dimensional) Boom Blox! on the Wii. In fact, the depth recognition of the Move is one of Tumble’s key selling points, the ability to properly manipulate the controller and the blocks in 3D space shouldn’t be underestimated and it’s only because the senstation is so naturally represented on screen that you don’t stop to think about it. It’s just a shame the developers had to try to shoehorn in so many other, diversory game types because the main act of building the blocks skywards is so excellently executed anything else just feels like filler.


  • A brilliant example of motion control technology
  • Lovely, crisp graphics
  • A serene atmosphere


  • Some game modes feel at odds with the core concept
  • Multiplayer lacks longevity

Tumble’s prescence at the Move launch shouldn’t be underestimated – it’s a very clever game with some really impressive ideas and a main mechanic that sets the game apart from the rest of the line-up. For the most part, it’s a great example of what’s possible with Move and the slick interface, full 3D visuals (if your TV supports it) and intelligent, thought provoking puzzles mean that anyone looking for a more pensive game to test their Move skills these coming weeks should make sure it’s in your queue. Tumble might not be perfect, but it does have moments of brilliance that we hope could be nurtured into a sequel more confident in the elements that work best.

Score: 7/10

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  1. Jas-n
    Since: Aug 2008

    Awesome, will play this later, Move is in the house man… I love ShopTo lol

    Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:02.
    • djdustb
      Since: Nov 2008

      Gutted, mine hasn’t turned up from them yet. I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow now.

      Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:29.
    • Apnomis
      Since: Sep 2009

      Mine was only shipped from ShopTo this morning :(

      Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:44.
      • carson321
        Since: May 2009

        Same here, hopefully it will turn up in the post tomorrow!

        Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 15:20.
      • MrTwP
        Since: Jul 2009

        i got my nav control but no ball control :(

        Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 17:18.
  2. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    As I sit on the Move fence wondering whether to jump in now or wait for the catalogue of games to build up… Tumble was one of my high hopes, that fact it’s good but not great hasn’t made my decision easier.

    I love the fun of Boom Blox & Boom Blox Party but this appears lacking in Tumble.

    I’d probably find myself being wowed by the precision, but don’t forget the fun Sony…. thats what made the Wii a runaway success, and although we don’t want Wii clones, fun co-op/competitive experiences is a must when it comes to ‘selling’ motion.

    Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:05.
    • adamguest1985
      Since: Apr 2010

      I couldn’t agree more. Although I’m a sucker for the hype and plan on getting a Move (or two) A.S.A.P., I was really hoping this was as fun as Boom Blox, and it just doesn’t look like it will be. Alot of the early games look more like Tech Demo’s for the precision, or slightly restyled leftover’s from the cupboard at the back of Sony HQ marked “EyeToy”.
      Here’s hoping some of the AAA titles coming up pull the Move away from the “fad” and into the “fab”.

      Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:15.
      • shrim
        Since: Jan 2009

        I love boom blox its a shame this doesn’t look as fun.

        Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:31.
    • jimmy-google
      Since: Feb 2009

      My main problem with the Wii is that I dind’t find many games I found fun to play. Wii Sports Tennis was the main one but you can reach the top end of that quite quickly. I’m hoping EA’s grand slam tennis is a good substitute.

      Tumble looks decent and isn’t too pricey but I’ll test the trial out first. My controllers have been sent out so I should get to try it tomorrow.

      Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:30.
      • cc_star
        Team TSA: Writer
        Since: Forever

        Good point about the price, when I wrote the comment I thought it was the usual £24.99… My sentiment about Move remains the same though. However, the price makes this a no-brainer for people with Move shaped appendages

        Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:47.
    • TSBonyman
      Since: Dec 2009

      I agree the Move needs lot’s of fun multiplayer games to really win but i’m about a third of the way through Tumble now and i have to say i’m loving the subtlety, precision and slower pace of the game. There’s plenty of room for more games like this, for me at least.

      Comment posted on 19/09/2010 at 14:48.
  3. Apnomis
    Since: Sep 2009

    Good review score, I had all but written this one off after the early reviews (including the laughably harsh scores Move games have been getting over it IGN – 3.5/10 in Tumble’s case).

    However for me £7.99 seems a little on the expensive side for such a sterile looking game. After seeing a trailer recently a friend of mine commented “It’s missing ‘weed’ from the end of the title” and I think he had a point. On the plus side it has a demo available today so at least I can judge for myself…

    Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 14:49.
    • BlackWidowShirt
      Since: Apr 2010

      This comment is hidden.

      Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 20:07.
  4. R1MJAW
    Since: May 2010

    Looking forward to getting my move controllers so I can try this. £8 isn’t too expensive, however it’s $10 on the US store, so I was expecting £6.50 or £7 … I’ll probably still buy it though.

    Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 15:44.
    • Stitch
      Since: Mar 2009

      I think it looks great too, but as always for a simple game like this the demo may well satisfy me enough!

      Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 20:04.
  5. Charmed_Fanatic
    Since: Aug 2009

    Just downloaded the demo … will see later what i think!

    Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 16:19.
  6. lokiy2j
    Since: Sep 2010

    I was pleasently surprised to see all the move related content appear on a wednesday afternoon (unless I’ve somehow managed to discover time travel) and noticing this game the review intrigued me, to be honest this and flight control HD will be purchased friday morning.

    Comment posted on 15/09/2010 at 23:03.
  7. TSBonyman
    Since: Dec 2009

    Great, definite purchase for me!

    Comment posted on 16/09/2010 at 13:52.
  8. Peter Rushton
    Since: Aug 2010

    Wow just wow, that was so fun, esp with friends!

    Comment posted on 17/09/2010 at 22:06.

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