First Looks// Post-PAX Impressions: Star Crawlers, Stealth Inc. 2, Tumblestone

Posted 4 Oct 2014 10:30 by
Like Super Meat Boy, upon failure the level starts again after a carefully placed checkpoint. This affords the player some latitude in terms learning how to get through a level via the age-old method of trial and error, as well as some application of cause and effect thrown in.

Solutions to puzzles vary from timing movement to avoid being fried on the spot through to distracting a guard dog while the other clone presses a switch. Whatever the solution, there is a great deal of satisfaction on the part of the player once they have solved it.

The Wii U has offered a unique element of co-operative method of play that allows one player to control the clone while the other interacts with the gamepad screen. They do this by reducing the likelihood of detection of their cohort as they make their way through a level.

Stealth Inc. 2 worked tremendously well with the Wii U and Nintendo should be congratulated for its continued support for the indie games on its console. There is a vertical treasure trove of them on the e-Store and Stealth Inc. 2 will make a welcome addition when it arrives later this year.

Tumblestone by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild

Match three games. They are regarded by many as the bane of videogames and should be admonished as such. Now in most instances I would concur with this. That was until I happened upon Tumblestone on the sixth floor of PAX Prime 2014 and my hostility to the oversaturated almost dissolved entirely.

From the creators of the excellent The Bridge, Tumblestone is a competitive match three game that requires players to shoot 3 blocks of the same colour in sequence. Failing to do this adds a row to the vertical row of blocks and increases the player's chances of failing a screen and eventually losing the game against the other players. Successfully shooting three blocks throws them to opposing player's rows, resulting in a constant battle between players as they try to clear their screens at the expense of everyone else.

There are special blocks that appear, some wild (i.e. they are any of the colours) which can be a blessing as there are many occasions when three blocks of the same colour do not present themselves.

It is very common for you to fire off two shots only to find there isn't a third block to fire at. This can be avoided once you get into the rhythm of the game, but it does take a while to master it, which is what all the best match three games do. I'm looking at you, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Tumblestone does share some of that same adversarial atmosphere from that Capcom classic. It was certainly very popular during PAX - the booth was very crowded every time I passed it.

As a significant departure from The Bridge, there is a very bright and contrasting colour pallet in Tumblestone along with detailed cartoon characters that represent each player. Sound effects and score reflect the vibrant visuals and there is excellent feedback to the player as to how they are performing during a match.

I played Tumblestone on both computer with a joypad and a tablet and found the latter to be more intuitive. It was far easier to simply select the row that I want to shoot by touching the screen rather than selecting it using the controller. Perhaps this was just a personal preference, but I certainly found it to be a more entertaining experience on the mobile platforms.

Tumblestone is set to appear in Q4 2014 on PC, Mac Linux, iOS and Android devices.
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