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Marble It Up!
Game Reviews

Marble It Up!

A physics-based marble obstacle course game that feels too familiar to stand apart from what inspired it.

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Atmosphere is everything!

In this gritty, post-apocalyptic retelling of a lesser known Kurt Vonnegut story, we find ourselves in the shoes of Detective Armstrong. He’s a no nonsense cop with a passion for taking down criminals. All of that changes when a literal walking bombshell Sue Memphis walks in and gets the geiger counter clicking like mad. In this first-person shooter, you need to slow time, fight crime and nuclear slime your way through Downtown Manhattan in search for Sue Memphis’ missing brother. It’s time to… Marble It Up!

Wait, that can’t be right… Oh okay, here we go: You’re a ball and you need to get to the goal. Wow. Heart-wrenching.

Not everything in this world needs a story. Sure, it helps players gain momentum through a game in hopes of getting involved with the whys and the hows of the game you’re spending so much time with. But sometimes it’s just nice to strip away the emotional baggage and gain momentum by simply using physics to, well, gain momentum – especially when you’re a ball.

Marble It Up! is a game that offers some very familiar concepts and rolls with them. It takes from games like Marble Madness, Marble Blast, and Super Monkey Ball and leans heavily on those titles. It seems to set out to only make one of those types of games and it works for the most part.

As with most of the types, I found that it wasn’t the levels that were challenging, it was only myself that presented the most amount of self-sabotage when trying to complete the level. If I take my time with a level, I could easily make my way through to the end without a single scratch on my perfectly spherical body. But the human desire to be the best prevented me from doing it each time.

Each of the 40 levels have leaderboards attached to them. If I completed a level, I would consistently check to see how my time stood out against others and, after having my confidence destroyed, I’ll try to see if I have what it takes to beat them or at least get near.

The game can feel a little back loaded with interesting designs showing up toward the second half of the levels, leaving the front half to be rather bland and easy. One could argue that the ramp up of difficulty is necessary for showing people how the game works, but the levels seem to feel very safe and it’s only when the harder levels come into play later on (mostly in the fourth and final world) do the level designs become more involved and inspired. It goes from your basic marble obstacle course game into something more similar to Trials. It’s something I wished they leaned into much more and allowed themselves to get more creative and sadistic.

For the uninitiated, marble games like this aren’t far off from my, admittedly, reductive introduction to them. They’re basically mini-golf games where you control the ball and you need to reach the end. It’s fine that it’s a reductive description because simplicity is what makes these games so charming. Moving the marbles around floating levels is an intuitive experience and even the power-ups help add to mobility and help shave off seconds if used in the right places. You’ve got speed boosts, leap boosts, and a slow time feature to help aid you on your runs, but they’re not always required to pick up. It helps add to the replayability since learning these levels to get the fastest time is part of the fun.

Marble It Up! is a very competent physics-based marble course game with solid controls and some fun and challenging levels later on in the game. The game different skins for your marble and only 40 levels so the 19.99 price tag seems a little on the steep side for what you’re getting. If they had potentially focused more on the challenge, Marble It Up! could have gone to some interesting places.

About the Author: James McKeever