Gematombe – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Route 5 Games and published by Ratalaika Games, Gematombe is an arcade style VS puzzle game based upon the Greek myth of Pandora’s Box. Using mechancs taken from brick breaker and bubble pop games, clear or crush your opponents to achieve victory in the puzzle battle. This title is available on all console platforms and Steam, with a link to each version of the game available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank PR Hound for providing the copy of Gematombe that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment as there are multiple plotlines that players can experience, so I will be going directly into covering the gameplay.

Gameplay – Gematombe is a competitive puzzle title, where the player must battle their opponent in puzzle battles. The objective of the battles are simple, clear the screen of all gem blocks before new ones can appear or make your opponents blocks reach the bottom. During these battles, the player must aim and fire their ball, trying to hit multiple blocks in combos to clear the screen as quickly as possible.

The blocks can be destroyed one by one, but if there is an active chain, multiple blocks of the same color can be broken if they are touching. In order to start a chain, multiple blocks must be hit at once, with the chance to preserve it by catching the ball. When big chains are secured, the player can send additional blocks to the enemy to try and crush them. However, if the player misses the ball when it returns, the blocks will move down risking them being crushed.

There are six characters that the player can choose from in this title, each of them inspired by the Greek myth of Pandora and the box. These characters have their own special abilities that they can use during battles, affecting the blocks on the opponents side of the field to try and gain an advantage. These character skills include generating more blocks, locking gems from being broken and even changing their colors.

The main game mode for this release is the story mode, where players can challenge all the characters in battles with a plot and ending for each of the characters. There are additional game modes for players to challenge, with a quick break down of all modes to round off this segment;

  • Story Mode – single player campaign with a unique story for each of the playable characters.
  • Practice Mode – take some time to get acquainted with each of the characters, hone your skills and prepare for battle.
  • Survivor mode – take part in endless battles against random opponents. Climb the tower to the sky, but if you are defeated, you must start again from the beginning.
  • Local Versus mode – take on a friend in head to head battle on the same console.

Now with the gameplay covered, it is time to move onto the other aspects of this release, starting with the controls.

Controls – this title has a control system that is easy to pick up, with only a few inputs needed to play this title. The controls are simple enough, with the launcher being moved/aimed with the D-pad and thumbstick, as well as the launch and move speed buttons on the face. The game is comfortable regardless of the controller that is used, but I would recommend an arcade stick to play this game for the authentic brick breaking experience.

Difficulty – this game is a mixed bag in terms of challenge, due to the competitive nature of this title the AI and block drops can be randomised. This unfortunately can lead to quick losses when the AI is able to clear the screen quickly at later stages, or if the player can’t chain combos and clear blocks fast enough. These minor issues can lead to some frustration for players, especially when losses are completely out the players control.

Presentation – the visuals are reminiscent of the titles it is inspired by, with sprites and character designs that are similar to that of Puyo Puyo, as well as other classic titles. These visuals compliment the feel of arcades that the game attempts to create, but there are some minor issues with slowdown at times during play. The sound adds to the experience, with music that fits each of the character themes, giving more depth and life to the overall presentation of this release.

Final Thoughts – I had a good time playing Gematombe, as the arcade style of the gameplay was a lot of fun to get to grips with. However, there is a level of frustration with the difficulty and semi random nature of the character skills. There is a lot of content on offer with this release, with secrets to discover and plenty of challenges with the different game modes which do make up for some of the frustrations.

I am able to easily recommend this release to everyone that likes arcade and puzzle titles, as this offers enough for players to sink their teeth into. The extra game modes increase the time that players can get from this release, along with the local multiplayer battles that can be enjoyed at home or on the go with a single system.

In the end, I give Gematombe a final score of 4/5, this is a fun and challenging arcade style competitive puzzler, with a feel that is reminiscent of the titles that inspired it. There is a plenty of content in this indie title, with more than enough for players to get their money’s worth. If you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to each version of the game is below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation version (HERE)

Link to Xbox version (HERE)

Link to Steam version (HERE)

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