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2005 was practically bursting at the seams with Zuma-style puzzle games in which you strategically match colored balls to slow their progress down a winding track. One of the more recent variations on this theme is Gamehouse’s very cute Tumblebugs. While Tumblebugs doesn’t exactly break new ground, it does offer some nice additions that make it worth checking out. It’s also sure to be a family pleaser.

The game puts you in the role of Tumble, a bug who calls the backyard home. Your multicolored bug brethren have been enslaved by the Black Bug Empire, and are being pushed in long queues into the enemy’s subterranean lair. To free your friends, you must match three or more bugs of the same color. Fortunately, you’ve got an endless supply of bugs you can throw from your back to make the match.

Although the basic gameplay won’t offer a lot of surprises for fans of the genre, there are some pleasant embellishments here. For example, a special Lob power-up let you use ballistic bugs to lob your shots over rows so you can match colors further away in the queue. In some levels you can even jump between multiple platforms to take shots from different angles—a fun variation that I haven’t seen before.

As you clear each level, Tumble progresses to another area of the backyard. Every few levels culminates in a bonus level, which lets you rack up additional points by completing tasks such as making all the bugs on the screen disappear within a time limit.

One thing Tumblebugs has in spades is cuteness. Not only are Tumble and the other bugs on the screen cute enough to pinch, but the track layouts are imaginative and fun, making full use of the bug’s eye view motif. The game’ s sound effects and music are catchy and memorable. It’s just the sort of game the whole family will enjoy. My five-, eight- and ten-year-olds have all taken turns playing it.

If you’re not sure whether Tumblebugs is for you, you can download a free trial demo, which lets you play for an hour before insisting that you pay up the $20 registration fee.

The bottom line

It won’t win points for originality, but Tumblebugs is a cute variation on the match-three style game popularized by Zuma, and more recently, MacPlay’s Luxor (   ; $20).

PROS: Cute graphics; interesting variations; appeals to all ages.
CONS: Luxor and Zuma fans have seen this before.
PRICE: $20
OS COMPATIBILITY: 10.2 and later
COMPANY: Gamehouse

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