Out now on: PS4, Steam, Switch, Xbox One (Version Tested: Xbox Series X)

Though remnants of 90s puzzle games still persist, for the most part the genre and style is a bit of a lost art.

It’s an art that the beautifully retro-styled Gematombe has dusted off and brought back to our screens, with a few twists that makes it stand out even among the games that have clearly influenced it.

Despite having a cartoony aesthetic reminiscent of puzzlers such as Puyo Puyo, Gematombe is more like a hybrid of Atari’s classic block smashing Breakout and the bubble popping addictiveness of Puzzle Bobble.

Against an opponent – either human or AI – you’ll fire your ball at rows of gems, trying to hit enough to trigger your character’s special power, which usually affects your opponent’s playfield in some way.

It’s all explained in a comprehensive, though brief, tutorial – and the basics don’t take long to pick up.

My biggest challenge was getting my head around playing it more like Breakout and less like Puzzle Bobble, but I’ll hold my hands up and admit that was my fault, not the fault of Gematombe.

The characters are surprisingly varied and have distinct personalities; it really does feel as if Gematombe is a lost 90s arcade puzzler, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

Thanks to its unusual – but easy to pick up – mechanics, array of game modes and bags of charm, Gematombe is a game I can highly recommend to fans of old school puzzle games.

The fact that Gematombe doesn’t slavishly copy any single game for its mechanics, but still retains the oddball, colourful charm of the games it’s inspired by, definitely works in its favour too.

Many thanks to PR Hound for providing me with a copy of Gematombe for review purposes.

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