Marble Blast was one of those cool ideas that turns into a really great game. Initially created as more or less a demo to show that the Torque 3D engine could be used for more than the first-person shooters it had been associated with to date, but grew into a fully-formed physics-based puzzle action game. Many Mac users found it pre-installed on their Mac, and others were able to grab it from the software offers on iTools (remember that?!?). This classic game has become the latest to make the jump to the iPhone. Let’s take a look!
Marble Blast Mobile transports your iPhone and iPod touch to a futuristic astrolab arena suspended high in the clouds. Race your marble through moving platforms and dangerous hazards, while collecting rare gems and power-up enhancements, in an effort to complete each course in record time. Play alone or compete head to head in a multiplayer mode race for the gems.
• Marble Blast gameplay on iPhone & iPod Touch devices
• 20 single-player levels to complete with and 10 multiplayer levels
• Play multiplayer against 4-8 friends in head-to-head matches
• Record best times and try for the gold medal for each level
• Use power-ups to enhance the abilities of your marble
• Select from 15 marble designs to use in-game
For years it felt that every time I would bring out my Macbook Pro (or TiBook or AlBook) my younger son would ask “do you have that marble game on there?’ So I have had Marble Blast on my Mac since 2002 when it was first released. As a result, the moment I heard this was released I bought it on iTunes without a second thought, and my kids were playing it on the ride to their summer camp the next morning.
They didn’t ask to play it again on the way home. Nor have they asked again since.
So what is the problem? It certainly isn’t the visuals, which look great. The original game was bright and colorful with distinct designs for the different levels, and that was carried into this port. Also brought forward was the solid level design. Traversing each level is challenging but fun, where everything makes sense but will become progressively more and more difficult to master.
Something else done very nicely is the multiplayer mode. We never used that in the original Mac version, but it has been touted in the XBLA version and works well here. You can battle other players across ten different multiplayer levels … which would be much more fun if it didn’t end up as a means of watching others struggle with controls the same way you are.
And that is where the problems begin: Marble Blast is based on very few things – a marble rolling around on a well deigned level with dual ball and camera controls, with full physics in effect and precarious drops around every corner. The challenge came from the level design paired with the physics, not from whether or not you could manage to defy the controls and accelerometer. There are two control schemes, but neither one works very well. Not only that, the physics themselves are lackluster – and given that this game was originally released eight years ago, it doesn’t seem unrealistic that the powerful iPhone and iPod Touch could handle the full power of the game.
Sadly the overall experience is that of a wonderful game poorly ported to the iPhone. You know that the great game is there at the core, but frustrating controls, mediocre physics, and too-frequent load times constantly get in the way of truly enjoying the experience.
Where to Buy: iTunes App Store Link
What I Like:
- Classic level design
- Nicely implemented muliplayer
What Needs Improvement:
- Controls are terrible.
- Physics implementation is lacking
- Too much ‘loading’