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For: Mobile

Insect is best

Product: Tumblebugs | Developer: Tag Games | Publisher: Connect2Media | Format: Mobile | Genre: Arcade, Casual | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 518KB | Reviewed on: K800i other handsets | Version: Europe
Tumblebugs Mobile, thumbnail 1
If there's one defining gameplay feature that can save any mobile game, it's one-thumb play.

The platform has matured a lot in recent months, but there's still no substitute for the ease of entertainment that comes from being able to play a game while walking down the street, standing on the train or surreptitiously having a go under the table while you're supposed to be listening to a Health & Safety presentation.

But it takes a specific type of game that can handle one-thumb controls - games like Tumblebugs, which, despite its sickeningly cute name, captures the vital essence of mobile gaming.

You'll probably note right from the start that it's a Zuma clone, and to be honest the developer doesn't bother to hide that fact, so much as embrace it. And that's fine, as far as this reviewer is concerned, as long as that clone still makes an effort to forge itself an identity alongside the familiar gameplay - which Tumblebugs certainly does.

The premise revolves around a line of bugs attempting to follow a winding route around the garden and bury themselves in the hole at the end. By shooting more coloured bugs into the rolling train of spherical insects, you aim to create lines of three or more to eliminate them from the string and slow the procession.

Since this line of bugs is pushed from the back (rather than pulled from the front), removing a number of them from the winding cable of creepy-crawlies gives you a brief window of opportunity to try and clear the severed section before they start moving again when the bug train catches up.

Mixed in and among the line of bugs are letters for you to build up words and gain extra lives, or special icons to stop the bugs for a moment, rewind them, or if you're particularly unlucky, fast forward them.

And their route is equally diverse, with sections of the dirt track disappearing under the ground at intervals, and then reappearing across the garden.

These occasional lulls in the storm of flying, coloured bugs add some tension to a level as you wait, poised, for the insect train to re-emerge from the ground so you can eliminate it before it reaches the end of the garden path.

The controls are beautifully simple and compact, with left and right controlling your invertebrate cannon, and '5' shooting more bugs into the parade. The only issue comes when the cannon is at the top of the screen, shooting downwards, and the controls are essentially reversed, though it doesn't take an engineering degree to get your head around it.

If nothing else, Tumblebugs is a great way to dig up a few extra levels for anyone who's played Zuma, Luxor or any other game in this style to completion, and does so with a quality of design that ensures it'll remain every bit as much fun as your previous game.

If Tumblebugs is your first experience of this particular match-three strain, it's sure to hook you onto the concept within the first couple of levels.
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 30 June 2009
A very familiar game that makes no apologies for borrowing from a long line of identical titles, but still manages to remain every bit as addictive as its spiritual predecessors. You can never have too many Zuma clones, and Tumblebugs exhibits the quality of design that made the original so popular
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