Tumble Pop Boi – Nolen Tabner

I had never known about this game until it was selected for Yokoi Kids in October. Cute enemies and fun gameplay, if a little slow-paced. The original idea for this piece was to have one of the protagonists sucking up one of the skeleton baddies but I had to scale it back due to lack of free time.

Nolen Tabner is a game designer and Game Boy enthusiast. Check out his stuff. 

October 2021: Tumble Pop (1993)

It’s October! The leaves are crunchin’, the apples are ciderin’, and the ghosts are downright hauntin’. The Boys of Yokoi wanted to pick a new game together that would be appropriate for the upcoming Halloween holiday. Since we recently relaxed our rules for game picking we all said in unison:

“Kid Dracula?!”

But it seemed like we all had a bigger question mark on the end of that than we should have, so we dilly-dallied on confirming it. Luckily, Rick V was on the scene to save the day. In his own words.
All the other Yokoi Dads were at HQ sitting around our octagon-shaped glass table discussing what Halloweenish game to pick. Now that our price range rules have changed to included games on the Nintendo 3DS store, it seemed like an easy choice. A game was decided. A game you were probably all familiar with. They thought it was a done deal.
Suddenly, I barge in through the back door, covered in brush, thorns, dirt, and a couple of centipedes in my hair.
I was running late and forgot my keys. We seldom lock the back door but I had to crawl through HQ’s overgrowing backyard where Ian insists he is putting in an herb garden. He’s been saying that for three years!
Anywho, I stumble in all disheveled as my so-called associates all flip their gaze to my mud-covered face.
“TUMBLE POP!” I exclaim as I slap my neon green Game Boy Color on that stop sign lookin’-ass table.
Their collective gaze goes from me to the Game Boy on the table. Erik is the only one brave enough to pick up my dirt-ridden Game Boy and boot it up. We all see the Tumble Pop title screen reflecting off his glasses. The boys shuffle in a bit to get a closer look. Nolen pulls out a notebook and starts scribbling frantically while muttering “Tumble Pop” under his breath.
Ian thumps himself on the forehead with his palm and joyously shouts, “Of course! Tumble Pop!”.
I use one of our many unsold Yokoi Kids T-shirts to clean myself up. I hear the “oohs” and “ahs” and occasional scaredy-cat yelps from Johnny as the four mid to late-thirties dudes hover over the tiny Game Boy screen.
“You guys think this is October’s game?” I asked knowing what the answer was going to be.
The room was quiet for long enough for me to second guess that answer.
“Hell yeah, it is!” they all collectively yelled in unison. We all laughed and high fives were given all around.
“All this positivity is really getting me pumped,” Ian said, “It makes me finally want to get started on that herb garden.”
We all laughed because we knew that was never gonna happen.

Tumble Pop is one of those weird games where Data East seemed to do something right! For some reason, they tend to knock it out of the park on the Game Boy (BurgerTime Deluxe, Lock N Chase). You control a little dude who goes pumpkin-house to pumpkin-house clearing out ghosts and monsters with your special little vacuum. It’s a screen-clearing game ala Bubble Bobble, Snow Bros, Zupapa (Go play Zupapa). Hold the baddies in your vacuum to knock out other ones and get bonus items. But be careful, hold them in your vacuum too long and they getcha! Use your bonus items like crazy because there are always dozens more.
Maybe it’s a little repetitive, but the new sprites and new music as the levels go up may keep ya going.
Well folks, that sounds fine and dandy like trick-or-treat candy to me! I love those old single-screen action arcade games. This one isn’t as expensive as Kid Dracula, but it isn’t cheap, so as always feel free to emulate or download this title onto your 3DS!