Did you know that you can download handheld games now? That's amazingly convenient! The only inconvenient part of it is finding the right games to buy -- and that's where we come in, with our Portabliss column. In each installment, we'll tell you about a downloadable game on the iPhone, iPad, Android device, DSi, 3DS, PSP, etc. Today: Tumble Pop.
Portabliss Tumble Pop 3DS eShop
When I started playing my review copy of Tumble Pop, I went in completely fresh. I had barely heard of it, paid little attention to it, and knew almost nothing besides having been published by Data East. And now I have a pleasant little pastime sitting on my 3DS, ready to provide me a few minutes of idle, low-stress entertainment whenever.

Tumble Pop sort of follows the Bubble Bobble school of platforming. Each level is a series of vertically stacked platforms in which various monsters wander left and right. There's a variety of cute ghosts, invisible men (or walking hats and gloves), some ... fire sprite things, a couple of clowns – your basic assortment. Your job is to patrol each enclosed stage and suck up all the monsters with your backpack-mounted vacuum cleaner. They'll respawn out of gates a few times, and the stage ends once you've picked up all the monsters the stage has to offer.

After you pick up a monster, your vacuum will spit out a star that rolls across the level and becomes a power-up when it hits the wall. You collect these and activate them from a menu, choosing from temporary invincibility, a wider vortex from your vacuum, faster movement, and more. If it's not a power-up, it's a letter – the stage abruptly ends and you get thrown into a bonus game when you spell "TUMBLEPOP" in full.

What I really like about Tumble Pop is the illusion of depth it provides. There are multiple Super Mario World-style map screens full of levels, with freely accessible bonus game levels and certain boss areas in which you fire projectiles back at a large enemy. However, the gameplay is still comfortingly simple inside any of these levels.

Having now experienced the Game Boy game, I have to seek out the arcade version to see this same bouncy little experience in bright, cartoony color. I love these rare cases of being introduced to a retro game I wasn't originally familiar with via the Virtual Console. Most people prefer to relive the classics they love, but I enjoy these discoveries.


Tumble Pop is available for $2.99 on the 3DS eShop. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

Now Playing: July 23-29, 2012