Marble Blast

Review

posted 12/24/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PC
Do you remember an old game called Marble Madness? It was a very simple game that placed you in control of a marble as you maneuvered your way through obstacles. While the genre of games was a cult hit on the old Sega Genesis, games of that sort would remain dormant for nearly a decade, resurfacing with the release of Sega’s own Super Monkey Ball for the Nintendo GameCube. Well developer Garage Games is out to prove that Sega isn’t the only game in town when it comes to marble controlling madness and for the most part, they’ve done an admirable job of doing so.

The premise of the game is quite simple, you’re given control of a marble and whilst in control of that marble you’ll have to accomplish a designated task that culminates with you entering a designated goal area. Featuring a relatively accurate physics system, the marble behaves quite realistically, reacting to your current environment. In addition to rolling you’ll be able to jump and collect a wide array of powerups that give you speed boosts, increased jumping height, and the ability to fly. It’s wacky and outlandish but to be honest, it’s a perfect fit for this game.

While the marble physics are quite dandy, the main attraction is without a doubt, the fun and imaginative puzzles. The main aim in each level varies; sometimes you’ll have to collect a set number of diamonds and other times you’ll just need to proceed to the goal in the allotted time period. Like Garage Games’ earlier entry, Chain Reaction, there is a nice abundance of variety here. Levels range from simplistic oval-style racetracks to vertigo inducing skyscrapers. Then there’s a skate park where you’ll have to jump off of ramps to collect the scattered diamonds, a fun little level that resembles a giant skee ball machine and an especially entertaining level that recreates an exciting roller coaster. In fact, level design is so great that you’ll probably find yourself playing the game just to see what those twisted minds at Monster Games have in store for you next.

Marble Blast just isn’t about rolling over bumps and hills, jumping takes center stage on many of the game’s level. Learning to precision jump is paramount, forcing you to land on some narrow platforms where falling leads to failure. You’ll be able to control your marble while it’s in the air to add some spin to help you maintain your bearing. It’s a great exercise in skill and precision and while failure will no doubt lead to some frustration, completing some of the later levels really provides a strong sense of satisfaction. For an avid gamer who needs to take a break from the violence or for a young child that needs encouragement, this is definitely a welcome surprise.

Everything is rendered with a very cartoonish feel that will appeal to a pretty wide audience. Utilizing the Torque engine (the technology behind Tribes) the game looks relatively attractive and runs pretty smoothly on most low-end machines. I personally found the environments to be very appealing to my eyes and while they’re not the best that the PC has to offer, they fit the bill of this game quite nicely. You’ll get some pretty pleasing lighting effects and animations to accommodate the on-screen action, most of which I feel are suitable for this game.
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