When Sony began its marketing blitz for the Playstation Move, the ads focused on how Move differentiates from the competition, namely Kinect and the Nintendo Wii. The Move campaign began with a commercial featuring Kevin Butler as the "VP of Realistic Movements" attempting to persuade the viewer the Move can do things others cannot. To demonstrate this, Butler lauds the realistic punches you'll be throwing in The Fight: Lights Out, then approaches a gamer playing Socom 4. If he really wanted to show off what the Move can do however, he should have played some Tumble.
Tumble may not be filled with the hardcore appeal Sony is promising with Move games like Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition or the motion-enabled Heavy Rain patch, but what this game lacks in action and grit, it more than makes up for with its concept and controls. The PlayStation Eye is incredibly precise when tracking the glowing ball atop your controller, and on the screen, a graphical rendition of your Move controller is represented flawlessly 1:1. From here you can move the controller around in a truly 3D space, allowing you to rotate the controller in any angle and even control its depth into the game world, done simply by moving towards or away from the camera. If you find yourself losing track of your positioning, you can always re-centre your on-screen controller in an instant with a press of the O button.
You are primarily tasked with building structures to score points, and are graded on your ability to speedily construct towers out of seemingly incompatible pieces. In the centre of the screen sits a square platform, and all towers you build must start here. The building blocks come in various shapes and sizes – from thin blue cylinders to transparent cubes and triangular pyramids, and in later levels, many of the objects become devilishly demanding, requiring you to come up with inventive ways to add them to your stack. Part of the game's charm comes from this openness, as there are virtually endless ways to pile up your pieces, and a special feeling of gratification comes from finding unusual ways to ditch your odd-shaped blocks. This could mean wedging a sharply angled triangle between two sturdy rectangles, ditching an egg atop a thin, barren cylinder or simply finding some open real estate at the base platform to ditch the cumbersome piece.
The basic controls of the game work well, and manoeuvring the pieces is simple. Aiming the Move controller, you control a grapple beam of sorts to select pieces. Once targeted on the block you want, hold the trigger button to zap it onto the front of the on-screen controller, where it remains until you let the trigger go. From here, you can press the Move button to rotate the camera, pointing the controller in the direction you want to look. You can also flip your grappled piece around by gesturing to the sides, or up and down, which will flip your piece 180 degrees horizontally or vertically, respectively. Once you have the camera and piece in place, you actually move into the game world to place your object. This experience feels fresh and intuitive, and you may find yourself moving your body more than the actual controller, pivoting your feet to change your angle or turning your waist to swing a piece behind an object. Tumble really knows how to get you into the game.
Dropping the pieces into the tower is rather perilous though, and you really need to take your time before letting go of that trigger button. If the piece is let go too high, it may fall down at an angle and tumble off its destination. If you lower it too far before release, you may slam into the tower and knock down part of your structure. Instead, you should use your whole body to fine tune your release. A little too high? Use your knees to lower your stance. A bit too far out? Lean back a bit to bring the piece closer to the screen. You may even have to take a few steps around to find that perfect angle. This level of immersion really sets the game apart from other motion-controlled puzzlers, offering a unique experience that only the Move has been able to deliver.
Still, while the precision of the Move peripheral is undoubtedly a huge plus to the game, it does sometimes cause problems. After playing for an hour, your outstretched arm may not be as steady as it was earlier, and the game picks this up. If your hand is wobbling, so is its on-screen representation. While this can easily be remedied by taking the remote two-handed, or just switching hands, those born without the hands of a surgeon may find some of the game's later challenges to be a bit frustrating, causing a well-built tower to tumble just because you accidentally jostled the tip of the structure.
The camera is another point of contention, as one main reason for changing the view is to locate blocks that fell to the floor. If they fall close to the base of the tower, it can be a pain picking them up, mainly because you can only look so far down. This means you'll spend time rotating the camera in order to get the perfect angle for grabbing a piece, then be tasked with holding the piece as you rotate back to your original position. Rotating the camera with a block in hand can be a dangerous affair, and if you accidentally graze a weak part of the stack with the piece you are holding, the whole level may end, resulting in a huge letdown and an enormous feeling of frustration. Since you are frequently cornered into building rather unstable structures due to the oddly shaped pieces the game gives you, this is something you really have to look out for. While this certainly adds a level of difficulty to the game, especially if you're trying to beat the target time, it feels more cumbersome than challenging.
The sheer variety of the levels is impressive, with new stages and modes gradually becoming unlocked by earning different medals. This serves to keep the gameplay fresh, and you'll eventually come across levels that change up the formula entirely, having nothing to do with stacking and balancing. A good example of this are "destruction" stages, in which you place mines that blow up one after another on pre-made structures. These structures sit at the center of a bullseye, and the further you send the blocks with your explosions the more points you score. There are also multiplier blocks that can score huge amounts of points, easily identifiable by the "X5" or "X8" marked on their sides. Later in the game, you get to complete environmental puzzles that consist of manipulating mirrors and blocks to redirect a laser beam, getting it to reach a goal or change colour.
Tumble's multiplayer mode is also incredibly varied, and this diversity again keeps the game from feeling repetitive. Players can either compete in tournament rounds or choose a single level to play, and can compete in both turn-based and head-to-head competitions. One mode has players building separate towers on a single platform, with scores being awarded for each piece placed and for reaching certain heights or goals, while another has players racing to build the highest tower fastest. Power-ups can also be collected to mess with your opponent's tower, like earthquakes that shake the ground or a series of blocks that rain down from above. Some stages even let you knock down your opponents stack by slamming pieces into them. While this won't score points, its a great way to mess up their building strategy.
Replay value doesn't only come from the multiplayer mode though, as there are various medals to earn on top of each stage's three base medals (bronze, silver and gold), like the Time medal, earned by completing a stage within a time limit, or the Target medal, scored by getting pieces to reach a precariously placed target in the stage. This keeps the game from going stale, and adds plenty of replay incentive to the levels, as you won't likely earn all medals on your first try.
Tumble delivers a unique experience and really showcases what the Move does different from its competitors. Also, it's great value: for a budget PSN title, it doles out so much content and variety that even without the Move-enabled controls it would be worth its own salt. Even with its frustrating camera and controls almost too precise for its own good, Tumble still delivers a VR puzzler that successfully balances challenge with innovation, constantly demanding users to interact with the game in new ways. Whether gently placing a 12-sided-die atop a pile of triangles or slamming a giant rectangle into your opponents tower, you are always in the game, reaching into the screen with the Move controller and likely having some trouble when it comes time to let it go.