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by Brett Nolan on Monday 28th Sep 2009

The team behind Car Jack Streets try something a little different here.

Brett Nolan is a guest contributor at and also runs an iPhone gaming site,

The long-awaited port of the popular PC marble popping game Tumblebugs recently arrived on the App store joining an already crowded category.  So how does the newest entry fair against the competition? Without a doubt, Tumblebugs wins the prize for the cutest match three marble shooter of the pack. The levels and backyard-themed scenery are charming and Disney-like, and will especially appeal to younger players. This is immediately evident right from the start, with a fun animated comic and a menu screen on which you can actually play a miniature (non-scored) version of the game.  Nice touch guys.

With over 70 levels of marble-shooting fun to tackle, this game will offer many hours of challenging gameplay. The sound effects are just ‘okay’, and the music is instantly forgettable, fortunately owners who have upgraded their idevices to OS3.0 or later also have the option of listening to their own music while they are playing.

In between levels, a screen is displayed, showing the score for the level, along with loads of other information including either some words of wisdom or some rather useful gameplay tips. Sadly, the readability of this information is somewhat marred by the fact that so much stuff is crammed onto these screens, making them a bit overwhelming and much too crowded. There is a way to send your score via facebook, but only during the game (via these level screens) and not at the end of the game.  In fact, unless we somehow missed it, you aren't even told what your final score was.
The basic controls of the game are okay, we especially liked the 360 degrees of rotation, but they definitely suffer from a bit of inaccuracy.  On more than one occasion, we found ourselves frustrated with balls missing their intended marks due to the inexactness of the controls.  A little more tweaking needs to be done in this department. Another gripe we had was that the top info/score bar, kept dropping down in front of the string of bugs, blocking our view of where to shoot.  This issue was more apparent on some levels than others, depending on the bugs path.

With the winning team of TAG Games and Connect2Media behind Tumblebugs, we had high expectations, but ultimately the game failed to meet them.  Featurewise, Tumblebugs falls a bit short of its competition.  When you arrive late to the party, you really need to be both feature comparable and/or offer something new and exciting, and sadly this is Tumblebugs’ biggest shortcoming.  When it comes right down to it, the basic underlying gameplay of all these marble-shooters is the same, so it really is all about the extras and what sets you apart from other similar games.  Yes, Tumblebug's graphics are quite charming, but both StoneLoops! of Jurassica and LUXOR offer their own achievement systems, and LUXOR even offers Plus+ integration while Tumblebugs offers nothing of the sort.

Tumblebugs may be down, but its certainly by no means out.  We are confident that talented development team at TAG Games could easily raise Tumblebugs up to be a strong competitor in this category, with just a few improvements in future updates.  Beyond just tightening up the controls, the addition of either OpenFeint or AGON integration would be a fantastic way to offer global leaderboards or an achievement system of its own.

At its current price of $2.99, Tumblebugs is difficult to recommend over its cheaper full-featured counterparts. Until these bugs (excuse the pun) can be worked out of the controls and the features are enhanced, we suggest that you try the free lite version for yourself before making any purchase decision.  You may find that your kid's love it, despite the shortcomings.

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  • Sound: 6
  • Graphics: 8
  • Gameplay: 6
  • Longevity: 7



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