If match-three games suffer from a single flaw, it’s that most of them don’t give you a reason for your efforts beyond achieving a higher score. BumbleTales takes a slightly different approach: Instead of trying to rise to the top of a leader board, you’re helping restore a community.
At the beginning of each level in Story Mode, you’re given a quota of building materials, such as brick, lumber, and gold to collect. The tiles in the playfield represent those materials; match three or more and your amount of on-hand resources climbs accordingly. Once you’ve built up a stockpile, you can visit the Store and use them to buy a building or entice a character to move into town. Both the buildings and the people can be upgraded, which while helpful for the buildings, is particularly fun for the characters.
Each time you upgrade one of the Bumbles, you learn a little bit more about their backstory as it’s read to you from a storybook. The voice work in BumbleTales is exceptionally well done; you’ll look forward to unlocking those extra chapters. A Scrapbook helps you keep track of which Bumbles you’ve purchased, and lets you review their stories, if you’d like.
The goal, obviously, is to buy every building and fill the Bumbles’ town, Springleton, with every last roly-poly Bumble you can, but don’t just pick purchases at random. Each structure and town-member provides you with a gameplay bonus. The buildings allow you to clear sections of the playfield – very handy when you need a particular type of resource and the Match Gods aren’t aligning things in a helpful way. The Bumbles themselves give you extra resources when you match matches or chains. You can have one building and one Bumble helping you at a time, but can switch them out mid-round if you’d like to.
Skill-oriented players may find BumbleTales‘ difficultly level to be a bit disappointing. It’s not particularly hard to unlock every item in the game; plug away at the tile-matching long enough, and eventually you’ll collect enough of everything to make all your purchases. Though the rate for each item goes up as you tack on upgrades, the fees are never astronomical, and you’re never more than a few rounds away from being able to buy that next item.
The buildings and Bumbles you unlock also carry over into the game’s Arcade mode, which is where you can satisfy your tile-matching urges in a more classic setting. There are no purchase to make here, no upgrades to save up for, just you versus the clock in a bid to do your matching best. The tiles of BumbleTales are bright, colorful, chunky blocks that just beg for your attention, and the enthusiastic cheers of your helper Bumble when you pull off an impressive chain will make you feel like a champ.
And that’s really what it comes down to in BumbleTales – the loveable, bulbous Bumbles themselves. BumbleTales‘ gameplay isn’t significantly different from any other match-three game you’ve ever tried, but its cast of characters are so charming and endearing that you’ll simply enjoy having them around.