When Sony announced the PlayStation VR, the repurposing of the six-year-old Move controllers raised more than a few eyebrows. While a clear commercial failure, the bright-orbed, ugly-ish stepsister of Nintendo's Wiimote was an intuitive, technologically superior take on the motion control craze of the late noughties.
With a permanent moratorium for the Move now on hold thanks to the PlayStation VR, notable PS3 titles that supported Sony's glowing wands are now ripe for a virtual reality makeover. Considering the platform's swift initial drift into obscurity however, the pickings are fairly slim.
Of the games that washed ashore among the sea of mini-game-filled bilge, fans of tricky block-building were quick to praise Supermassive Games' Tumble for its motion-controlled, Jenga-meets-Tetris puzzles. Now Tumble VR – a repackaged, enhanced Tumble experience – is one of the gems of the PSVR's launch line-up.
Tumble VR begins with a simple task: stack a bundle of disparate shapes together and make your (very likely leaning) tower of bits and bobs stand as tall as possible. As with most great puzzle games, this idea twists and turns as much as the shapes themselves as you try and piece them together with increasingly mixed results.
Eventually a multitude of factors influence the stability of your precarious creations with slanted bases, tremors, projectiles, wind machines and limbo bars all threatening to turn your efforts into rubble. On a basic level, each block, triangle or in some cases bizarre Kinder Egg-like object has its own physical properties. Metal pieces work well as the base for lighter plastic 'bricks', with a few frictional rubber rectangles in between.
Tumble VR supports both the Dualshock or Move controller, and while both have their own merits and drawbacks, the Move feels the most natural within the context of VR as it allows for one-to-one handling, rotation and angling of each block.
Stepping around a block tower in virtual reality feels like a natural fit for the original mechanics of Tumble on PS3. Players will need to do this to seek out gaps for that last pesky diamond shape that they have to meticulously place without knocking everything to the ground.
In its VR guise, Supermassive – of Until Dawn fame (and its new VR spin-off Rush Of Blood) – has added new challenges and a reworked Versus mode where a second player disrupts the first's handiwork with an assortment of lasers, fans and blasters.
The local multiplayer is a blast in short bursts, although playing through the main challenges with a puzzle-solver nearby can be equally entertaining – if you can tolerate some backseat puzzling and cries of "no, not there... there!".
Arguably the best puzzle variant completely subverts the game's initial goal: the demolition challenges. Armed with just three bombs, Tumble VR pits you against increasingly sturdy block amalgamations with points dished out based on how far each one flies away from its initial position.
While the bridge building and light reflecting challenges veer toward broken controller territory as harder 'Zones' unlock, time targets, hidden blocks and medal rankings offer other avenues of puzzling fun if you get completely stuck.
For all the freedom Tumble VR offers in its new virtual reality guise, there are drawbacks that stem from the tech itself. Stepping around the central pedestal to find an optimum viewpoint can send the PlayStation Camera's sensors into meltdown if you happen to drift out of the small play area, while losing track of the Move controllers as you contort your limbs is a fairly common occurrence.
On a more fundamental level, Tumble VR is crying out for a 'rewind' mechanic. In the latter zones, structures can reach absurd heights and one accidental knock or misjudged block placement can trigger a catastrophic, yes, tumble. A limited-use do-over of the last move would reduce the challenge a tad, but also alleviate frustration.
Tumble VR is easily one of the most comprehensive games among the PSVR's launch line-up, both in terms of longevity and mechanical depth. While not the kind of quintessential puzzle game that can stack up to this year's best (The Witness), Supermassive Games' virtual reality stack-a-thon stands tall on Sony's virtual reality machine.