Gematombe is a new puzzle game developed by Route 5 Games and published by Ratailaka Games. It feels like a mix between a brick breaker-style game with Puzzle Bobble. In the tutorial, you play as Pandora the Hope, with Lucy the Cherubim teaching you how to play. The goal is to defeat the daemons, which are personifications of the great evils, capturing them by shoving them back into the clay jars whence they came. Like in Puzzle Bobble, you take control of a cannon at the bottom of the screen and take aim, trying to bounce the ball off of as many of the coloured blocks hovering over you at the top of the screen. Once the ball comes down, be sure to catch it because if you miss, the lines will come down towards the bottom. If any blocks touch the fail line at the bottom, you will be overwhelmed and crushed, so you lose. If you hit at least six gems and catch the ball, souls will be released against your opponent. To win, you have to clear all the blocks that are on your side of the screen: once you have done this, you have achieved a Gematombe and you are victorious.
There are six cartoon characters to select from, with one extra one to be unlocked. Each of them has its own unique ability to use in battle:
Pandora the Hope — Hardener — changes two of your opponent's blocks into a harder state that requires them to hit that spot multiple times to clear.
Adicia the Injustice — Down — makes a gem change into a down gem that will make a new line appear above it when it is hit.
Nosi the Plague — Virus — changes a gem into a virus that will spread when it’s hit.
Ania the Sorrow — Solidifier — transforms a gem into a solidifier gem that will harden the other gems that are on the same line.
Apate the Deceit — Trickster — moves two of your opponent's gems onto empty spaces.
Khaos the Chaos — Randomizer — switches the colour of two opponent’s gems.
When you play the Arcade Mode, the character you select will have some dialogue with their opponent before jumping into the battle. There isn’t a lot to the story, so don’t go in expecting something deep, as most of the conversations are “I’m going to defeat you” with “Bite me” as the response. When you win, your character declares that they have won the battle. Unfortunately, they say the exact same thing every time they are victorious.
There are three different difficulties available to play in the Arcade Mode, Easy, Normal, and Hard. If you select the Easy mode when you first start to play, you will probably beat all your opponents in less than an hour. When I started the game, I totally missed the main menu and jumped right into battle with no idea of what I was doing. I was beaten a couple of times, but it lets you have a rematch without having to start over from the beginning of the roster. So if you want more of a challenge, start on one of the harder modes.
The characters available are shown in a cute-cartoony style with bright colours. The menus have a Greek style with a font and borders that look like they are from a children's mythology book. There is a nice mix of male and female characters to select from, but the developer's choice of font colour on this screen was questionable — they had Khaos the Chaos’ name in a dark blue that matched the colour of the background, so it took me a while to realise that Khaos wasn’t the full name since I couldn’t see the rest.
Each battle takes place at a different location, and it appears as a static background while you are in the puzzle. The multicoloured gems/blocks to take out looked nice, though I wish there was more explanation as to the difference between the colours and textures of blocks, which were considered harder and needed to be hit multiple times. The music that plays while you are in battle is alright, not super memorable, but not irritating, which is nice.
Gematombe has both single-player and multiplayer modes to battle a friend in a one-on-one battle. If you are playing single-player there are three different modes to challenge.
Arcade: defeat the rest of the daemons (there are six in total) and complete the game.
Practice: in this one, there is no opponent to face off against, but you can see how high of a score you can get. This is a great mode when you are first starting to learn how to play.
Survivor: test yourself and see how long you can last against the never-ending horde of evil daemons.
Each of the modes allows you to adjust the speed between Slow, Normal, and Fast depending on how much of a challenge you want. I found that the controls were fine in all the different modes, as they really aren’t that complicated to begin with. The trickiest part is selecting the angle that you want to shoot your ball at.
Gematombe is an alright game, though, I didn’t find it to be very addictive like other puzzle games that I have played recently. If you like the brick breaker style of game that switches it up a bit by having you catch the ball instead of just bouncing it, this may be a title that you will enjoy.
Gematombe (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Gematombe is a new twist on the traditional brick-breaking game where you are bouncing a ball on a paddle to take out blocks. I never found it to be addictive like other puzzle games, and I don’t think it has much replayability.