When I first heard about this game, I thought “Oh, that’s neat. Somebody’s hoping to make a spiritual successor to Marble Blast“. Then as I read more details about the game, the revelation hit me: “Oh my God, this game is Marble Blast!” You’d have to understand – Marble Blast Gold was one of those games I’ve had a special place in my heart since elementary school.
If there was any free time in the computer lab, all the kids in the room, myself included, would glue themselves to Marble Blast Gold. I’ve low-key hoped that a successor would come around but I wasn’t ever sure it could happen. The series had been dormant since Marble Blast Ultra, and that got removed from Xbox Live in 2011. The closest anyone could get to playing it now would be the demo in the Xbox Live compilation disc that’s often paired with SEGA Superstars Tennis. But man did I get stoked when I saw more and more of Marble It Up. Now that I have it in my possession, the question arises: Does it recapture the magic of its predecessors? Well…
Funnily, I remember not liking how Marble Blast Ultra looked in comparison to Gold; although the graphics were more detailed, the colors seemed washed out compared to the vibrant nature of the original game. Marble It Up seems to acknowledge this and gives us the best of both worlds. This time around, the visual clarity and details work with stylistic color choices to make the levels pop. I have to give massive props to the backgrounds, too. The effects put into them combined with the aesthetics of the platforms give Marble It Up this kind of sleek, abstract nature that I can’t help but love.
Brought to you by Solovox is the soundtrack for Marble It Up. It’s an energetic techno OST that goes well with the game’s surreal imagery and active pacing. You can even listen to the music online on YouTube for a taste, but there is a catch; in-game, the music actually suffers from some compression. It’s not to the extent of various 3DS game soundtracks mind you, but it is noticeable enough given how few other Switch games do this. Other than that, the sound design is nice and subtle.
If you’ve played a game in the series before, you’ll be right at home with Marble It Up. This is a series of platforming gauntlets where you control a marble that can jump and use situational power-ups. Sometimes you need to collect gems and other times have you make a straight shot to the finish. Extra incentives to play include beating the levels as quickly as possible and unlocking cosmetics. It’s simple in design, but works well with what it has. In fact, the analog + button controls of the Switch obliterate the WASD + mouse controls Marble Blast Gold had to deal with on PC.
That’s not to say this is a necessarily superior game. The most obvious stick in the craw is that the length is shorter. There were 100 levels in Gold and 60 in Ultra, but Marble It Up has only 40 in comparison (It sounds like a lot, but they can all be beaten within a minute or two). It also doesn’t go as crazy with the mechanics and layouts as Gold had in its latter half. Though to be fair, I did get frustrated with a lot of Gold‘s levels; I am at least thankful Marble It Up does away with any of those annoyances. I just wish the game revisited that kind of scope.
Marble It Up plays it safe compared to its predecessors, but it is no less fun to play through the levels it offers. It’s definitely a solid game for newcomers and players that haven’t played one of these in years. I’m also very happy to see this series return as intact as it is. I’ll be hoping that the devs step up their marble game for the future, though. A sequel or expansive update could do wonders for the game’s potential.
Review copy provided by Bad Habit Productions