Turba Review

By on August 18, 2010

Beat-based block-busting fun…for a while.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Music and rhythm games have become quite a sensation ever since the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band showed up, so it’s no real surprise that this particular genre has trickled down and found its way into the indie world of electronic fun relatively quickly. Games such as Audiosurf, Beat Hazard, and Rhythm Zone bear witness to this fact, and although these titles have totally different mechanics, they all have one feature at their core: your music. Whether you’re riding pulsating waveforms in a spaceship or desperately trying to keep up with a barrage of increasingly insane note combos, it all comes down to those little digital sound files sitting on your computer, on which you obviously spent vast amounts of painstakingly hard-earned money.
Say what?
*Gasp!* You didn’t!?
Well in that case, just shut up and read on.

So along comes Turba, a new entrant in the aforementioned indie music-based games category.
Awkward name? Yes.
Weird gameplay? Definitely not.
The game takes the standard “match 3” formula and basically chucks in some clever little tricks that make use of your music tracks, and so if you’ve ever played, seen, or even just read about games like Bejeweled and its many spinoffs, you’ll be no stranger to how Turba plays out.
You have your standard game board and four different coloured blocks filling up the playing area either upwards (“Ascend” mode) or downwards (“Descend” mode) as time marches on. The blocks are generated according to the beats of the track being played, and it’s your job to prevent the board from filling up completely by selecting three or more adjacent blocks of the same colour and then blowing them into oblivion. Add in multiplier blocks, ticking time bomb blocks, and some special powerups to aid your frantic, fumbling fingers, and you’ve got Turba. It’s that simple, really.

There are some things which the game does a bit differently from other similar colour/block/gem matching games though, which is a good thing – you wouldn’t want to spend $10 to play an exact ripoff of said similar games just so you can load up your own tunes in the background. Let’s take a look…

For starters, as mentioned previously, the game utilizes a “beat detection system” to generate the blocks on the board based on music. You can either choose from one of eight built-in tracks, or select from one of the thousands of your own MP3s lying on your hard drive, all of which you undoubtedly ripped from original album discs using commercially available ripping software. While there are three difficulty levels for you to take a stab at, it’s worthwhile to note that to some degree, the amount of challenge you’ll face also depends on the song being played, independent of the difficulty level. Songs that have fast tempos and high numbers of beats per minute will give you a noticeably harder time than other more moderately paced tracks on the same difficulty setting, so in theory, the amount of challenge and you get out of the game is only limited by the size of your music library.

Second, is the way the controls work out. You don’t simply click rows and columns of blocks to swap colours around and make them disappear; Turba has a fair bit more depth to its block-blasting control scheme. At its simplest, you left-click to select blocks on the board, and right-click to blow them up. Holding down the left mouse button lets you drag and select multiple blocks, while double-clicking it selects the currently highlighted block and upto four adjacent ones of the same colour, if present. And lastly, single-clicking the scroll wheel clears all selected blocks. Some of the actions also have keyboard buttons bound to them, but it is possible to play entirely with the mouse with no great discomfort. That may seem like quite a few ways of doing one simple thing (selecting blocks), but trust me, if you want to score big and play on the harder difficulties, you’re going to need every one of those moves at some point or the other, and you’re going to need them very often.

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The Scorecard
Innovative and challenging thanks to the beat detection system and your massive music library, but the novelty does wear off fairly quickly, unless you’re a hardcore fan of match 3 type games.
Very simplistic, and not in the good sense. Could have definitely benefitted from crisper and more detailed visuals and some more special effects. Unintuitive and crowded menu layouts.
The bundled tunes are fairly decent, but your music library will more than make up for it. If it doesn’t, blame yourself and go cry in a corner.
Barely any reason to keep playing after two or three hours. Chasing achievements and leaderboard scores doesn’t really count as real “value”.
Definitely fun while the novelty lasts, no doubt about that. Now if it could just last a little longer…
A novel, unique blend of match 3 style gameplay and music/rhythm mechanics, which is slightly marred by the sub-par presentation and absolute lack of replayability. Worth a few hours of your time, but no long-term fun here, really.


Loves video games lots, but loves video game development even more. Has a Bachelor's degree in the field, yet the technical complexity behind those billions of interactive pixels boggles his mind. His brain will either conjure up the next best game or turn into gravy in 5 years time.

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  • http://www.turbagame.com Jonathan Delong

    Thanks for writing a review for our game! It always means a great deal to us to see critical feedback :) . I was a little surprised by the hit in the overall value department to be honest. I think for the price it's at we are offering quite a lot to keep you playing long enough to get more than your money's worth. I can see it wearing on you faster if you aren't a fan of the type of game though I suppose. At least you had fun while it lasted lol :

  • Rohan Anchan

    My pleasure, and I did indeed enjoy the game quite a lot while the novelty lasted! With the low "Value" score, it is exactly as you mentioned about the fun wearing thin quick if one is not a fan of the particular type, and as such, that theory applies to any game in the biz, indie or mainstream. And as reviewers, we simply have to detach ourself from our personal preferences and look at it from the point-of-view of gamers in general. I respect your opinion and agree on your statement of it providing enough value for money, but only *if* the player in question is an absolute fan of such game types.
    Having said that, I definitely give you guys a thumbs up for the concept and mechanics, be interesting to see your future work for sure. Good luck! :-)

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