The marble-popping genre can generally be grouped into two categories: Luxor clones and Zuma clones. Tumblebugs, a port of the online game that has been played about 35 million times, falls into the latter category.
While the game is a port, its controls have been tailored to the iPhone’s touch screen. Shooting balls is performed by tapping where you want to shoot it, and touching the bugs switches between upcoming balls. The goal is the same as always: match three or more marbles of the same color and create chains. Power-ups are also true to other takes on the genre, including multi-color balls, bombs, and reversing the motion of oncoming waves.
Tumblebugs sports 75 levels to work through, increasing the difficulty and new power-ups as you progress. However, we felt the game was tailored towards a younger audience due to its youthful style, light story, and fairly easy difficulty level. This is not exactly a bad thing, though, and it shows that the developer Tag Games, who also brought you Car Jack Streets, can appeal to both sides of the spectrum of gamers.
The game has a good amount of personality. Occasional comic book cutscenes tell the story of how the once-peaceful tumblebugs have been taken prisoner by the evil black bugs. As the oversized Tumble, you must clear the backyard of your enemies. We would have liked to see this story take more of a front seat in the game, like in Blackbeard’s Assault.
Our current build does have some rough edges, however, that we hope are addressed before launch. The framerate on our 3GS is fairly choppy, and some more appealing fonts and animations would help this game immensely. Also, multiple difficulty levels would be nice to help the game appeal to a broader audience.
Tumblebugs is nothing we haven’t seen before, but if some extra polish and attention to the storyline is added, it could be a worthy filler for Zuma until Popcap ports their game over, which we feel will happen in the not-too-distant future.