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Developer(s)Data East
Designer(s)Makoto Kikuchi
Programmer(s)Hidemi Hamada
Kei Ichikawa
Minoru Sano
Artist(s)Atsushi Takahashi
Chie Kitahara
Hiroshi Tada
Composer(s)Tatsuya Kiuchi
Tomoyoshi Sato
Mihoko Ando
Platform(s)Arcade, Game Boy

Tumblepop[a] is a 1991 platform arcade video game developed by Data East first published in Japan by Namco, then in North America by Leprechaun Inc. and later in Europe by Mitchell Corporation. Starring two ghosthunters, players are tasked with travelling across different countries, capturing enemies and throwing them as bouncing ball, jumping on and off platforms to navigate level obstacles while dodging and defeating monsters in order to save the world.

Designed by Makoto Kikuchi, Tumblepop was developed by most of the same team that worked on several projects at Data East. Although first launched in arcades, the game was later ported across multiple platforms, each one featuring several changes or additions compared with the original version. The title was met with mostly positive reception from critics and players alike, gaining a cult following since its initial release. However, other versions were met with a more mixed response from reviewers.


Arcade version screenshot.

Tumblepop is a platform game reminiscent of Bubble Bobble, Pang and Snow Bros., where players assume the role of ghosthunters through ten levels consisting of ten stages set in different parts of the world (Moscow, Egypt, Paris, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Antarctica, Australia, Japan, Space and Moon), each with a boss at the every tenth stage that must be fought before progressing any further, in an effort to defeat monsters, ghosts, aliens and other oddball characters as the main objective.[1][2][3][4][5] Each player can suck enemies into a vacuum-cleaner-like devices, however enemies will escape from the player's vacuum-cleaner and kill their character if they are kept for too long.[2][3][4][5] Once an enemy has been captured into the vacuum-cleaner, players can spit them back as rolling balls, which will rebound off of walls until eventually shattering against a wall.[2][3][4][5]

Any enemies the tumbling ball rolls into are eliminated and reveal hidden bonus items that are crucial for reaching high-scores such as collectable letters of the alphabet found in randomly appearing bubbles to gradually spell the word "TUMBLEPOP", the progress of which is permanently displayed at the bottom of the screen.[2][3][4][5] The word goes back to default after completion. When completed, players are transported to a bonus level which gives them the opportunity to obtain higher scores and an extra life, although this level is strictly timed.[2][4][5] If the player takes too much time to complete a level, a vampire-like beast will come and try to kill the players, which is invincible and this also counts during boss encounters.[2]

When players bowl an enemy over, it may drop other items like gems, money or power-ups.[2][4] Players can also stun enemies with the beam emitted from the vacuum-cleaner.[2][4] The game hosts cameos of characters from other Data East games such as Karnov, Atomic Runner Chelnov and Joe & Mac.[4][5] If a single player is downed, their character is immediately respawned at the location they start at on every stage. Getting hit by enemy fire will result in losing a life, as well as a penalty of decreasing the characters' firepower and speed to his original state and once all lives are lost, the game is over unless the players insert more credits into the arcade machine to continue playing.

Development and release[edit]

Tumblepop was developed by most of the same team that worked on several projects at Data East, with Makoto Kikuchi serving as its designer.[6] Hidemi Hamada, Kei Ichikawa and Minoru Sano acted as programmers, while several artists like Atsushi Takahashi, Chie Kitahara, Hiroshi Tada and others were responsible for the pixel art.[6] The soundtrack was handled by Gamadelic members Mihoko Ando, Tatsuya Kiuchi and Tomoyoshi Sato.[6][7]

Tumblepop was first released in November 1991 in Japan by Namco, Leprechaun Inc. in North America and Mitchell Corporation in Europe.[8][9][10][citation needed] In 1992, a Game Boy version was first released in Japan by Data East and later in North America by Sunsoft in March 1993.[11][12] The Game Boy version incorporates a world map that does not resemble Earth; levels are contained in different cities on that map that the player can walk between.[4] If a city proves too difficult, it is also possible to drop out of it and come back later via a password system. Enemies in a given city approximately correspond to those in an area in the arcade version, though there is not necessarily any link between the real world's cities and the game's cities. In addition, this version also incorporates a shop in which players can spend their points to buy power-ups.[4] It has since been re-released on both the Nintendo 3DS' Virtual Console by G-Mode and the AntStream service.[11][13]


In Japan, Game Machine listed Tumblepop on their 1 December 1991 issue as being the eighth most-successful table arcade unit of the month.[21] In the February 1992 issue of Japanese publication Micom BASIC Magazine, the game was ranked on the number eight spot in popularity.[22] The arcade original has gained a cult following since its release.[5]

Computer and Video Games's Julian Rignall gave high praise to the visuals, sound and "addictive" gameplay.[8] Both Emmanuel Castro and Burno Sol of Spanish website Vandal gave it a positive retrospective outlook.[23][24] Likewise, Juan Garcia of IGN Spain also gave it a positive retrospective outlook.[25]


  1. ^ Japanese: タンブルポップ, Hepburn: Tanburupoppu


  1. ^ Labiner, Michael (December 1991). "Coin Op: Tumble Pop". Amiga Joker (in German). No. 22. Joker-Verlag. p. 122.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Tumblepop instruction booklet (Game Boy, US)
  3. ^ a b c d Hawkins, Craig (21 August 2008). "Tumblepop". Retro Gamer. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tiraboschi, Federico (17 October 2016). "Tumblepop". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Bouzo, Oscar (14 August 2019). "Retroanálisis de Tumblepop, un clásico de recreativas que tendría que haber aspirado a mucho más". Vida Extra (in Spanish). Webedia. Archived from the original on 29 April 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Data East (1991). Tumblepop (Arcade). Data East. Level/area: Staff.
  7. ^ Fuentes, Edgar S. (21 June 2017). "Vandal Game Music: 'Gamadelic' Data East Sound Team - Repasamos el legado de Gamadelic, la brillante formación de músicos de Data East". Vandal (in Spanish). El Español. Archived from the original on 5 July 2020. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b Rignall, Julian (February 1992). "Arcade Action - Tumble Pop". Computer and Video Games. No. 123. EMAP. pp. 88–89.
  9. ^ Yanma (December 1991). "Super Soft Hot Information: Video Game! (ビデオゲーム) - タンブルポップ". Micom BASIC Magazine (in Japanese). No. 114. The Dempa Shimbunsha Corporation. p. 255.
  10. ^ Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). データイースト Data East; ナムコ(中村製作所)Namco (in Japanese) (1st ed.). Amusement News Agency. pp. 48, 53. ISBN 978-4990251215. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  11. ^ a b c Mason, Mike (18 June 2012). "Tumblepop Review (3DS eShop / GB) - Tumble Pop and lock". Nintendo Life. Nlife Media. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Game Boy (original) Games" (PDF). Nintendo. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  13. ^ Brehme, Marc (17 January 2019). "Antstream: Wir haben das Netflix für Retro-Spiele ausprobiert". PC Games (in German). Computec. Archived from the original on 5 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  14. ^ Andromeda (October 1993). "Game Boy ProReview: Tumble Pop". GamePro. No. 51. IDG. p. 135. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  15. ^ Wilson, David (January 1992). "Kill Zone - Tumble Pop". Game Zone. Vol. 1, no. 3. Dennis Publishing. p. 74.
  16. ^ Fernández, Ricardo (2 September 2018). "Tumblepop, Retro Análisis". MeriStation (in Spanish). PRISA. Archived from the original on 17 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  17. ^ Towell, Justin (July 2012). "Reviews - Tumble Pop". Nintendo Gamer. No. 78. Future plc. p. 103.
  18. ^ M., K. (August 1993). "Marios Magic: Tumblepop (Import) - Game Boy". Play Time (in German). No. 26. CT Computec Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. p. 90. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  19. ^ Eggebrecht, Julian (June 1993). "Game Boy - Test: Tumble Pop". Total! (in German). No. 1. X-Plain-Verlag. p. 80. Archived from the original on 26 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  20. ^ Stokes, Doris (January 1992). "Dosh Eaters: Tumble Pop (Data East)". Zero. No. 27. Dennis Publishing. p. 69.
  21. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 416. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 December 1991. p. 25.
  22. ^ Yanma (February 1992). "Super Soft Hot Information: Video Game (ビデオゲーム) - Hot 20". Micom BASIC Magazine (in Japanese). No. 116. The Dempa Shimbunsha Corporation. p. 241.
  23. ^ Castro, Emmanuel (4 November 2011). "Retro: Tumblepop ¡Los "cazafantasmas" de los noventa! — Revivimos la magia especial de los arcades con el juego de DataEast". Vandal (in Spanish). El Español. Archived from the original on 17 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  24. ^ Sol, Bruno (8 December 2017). "Retro: TumblePop: con el aspirador en ristre — Recuperamos uno de los grandes clásicos de Data East". Vandal (in Spanish). El Español. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  25. ^ García, Juan (2 August 2016). "El Hit de Ayer: Tumble Pop - Data East vuelve a las plataformas en un arcade con aspiraciones". IGN Spain. Marca. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.

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