Developer: Starfruit Games
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.01

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0370If there’s one thing that the App Store isn’t lacking, it’s physics puzzles. Topple was perhaps the first memorable one, but the field is now almost as cluttered as the ancient match-3. Tumbledrop, however, manages to stand out. The sugary-cute graphics are what you’ll notice first, but the surprisingly challenging and inventive levels are where the real entertainment lies.

Each Tumbledrop level contains some yellow shapes, a pink star, and a platform at the bottom. The yellow shapes will pop when you tap them, disrupting the existing structure. The goal is to get the pink star safely to a platform. The trick is that the platform doesn’t fill the whole screen—there’s water along the bottom, too, and if the star takes a plunge you’ll have to restart the level.

IMG_0375It’s a very simple premise, and one that we’ve seen in games before, but what makes Tumbledrop work are the awesome level designs. The interlocking shapes make for some interesting structures, and taking it slowly isn’t always the best method. Sometimes the star is balanced over the water, and simply destroying shapes will send it for a swim; in others, you’ll have to disrupt a precariously balanced structure just enough so that it topples, but not so much that the star goes flying. I found the level of challenge to be excellent—never did I hit a permanent brick wall, but I was challenged often enough that redo’s were frequent. Thankfully, there’s a handy button in the top-left for doing just that.

Best of all is the way the game rewards you for finishing levels. Completing a level normally will unlock another level. (Though you always have a few extra levels unlocked, you’ll need to beat all of them in a set in order to unlock the next difficulty.) Simple completion, however, isn’t the best you can do. Tumbledrop also doles out heart and star medals. Star medals are given for finishing a level with few moves, while heart medals are for finishing with the maximum number of moves. This extra level of achievement adds greatly to replay value, as sometimes you’ll often need an entirely different strategy for each case.

IMG_0372The graphics definitely fall under the category of “kawaii”—that is to say, obnoxiously cute. They’re animated, too, so you’ll get to see the star screech in silent horror as it slowly topples into the water. The theme is fine, but I’m less enamored of the audio. The soundtrack is fine, but it certainly didn’t thrill me.

There’s not much else to Tumbledrop. There are sixty levels, which should be able to last you a good while. There’s no timer in the levels, and thus no high-score boards; it’s just you, the puzzles, and a quest for medals. Sure, the graphics are a bit too sweet for my tastes, but the level designs make it a fun experience. I highly recommend trying out the lite version or playing the web version if you want to give Tumbledrop a free spin, but it’s a truly great puzzle game and a worthy addition to anyone’s collection.

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