Reviewed by Jimmy | 03.09.06
Introduction:Marble Blast Ultra from arcade expects Garage Games brings some marble balancing fun to the Xbox Live Arcade. Influenced by the old classic Marble Madness this HD marble rolling puzzle game is worth a few moments of your time.
The Game:Right off the bat you will know if Marble Blast Ultra is for you. I recommend hot headed gamers steer clear of this one because it will make you blow a fuse. Marble Blast can be down right frustrating, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Like most arcade inspired games they are addictive, fun, aggravating, and entertaining all at once, and
Marble Blast Ultra is akin to all these
Luck of the Puzzle
Marble Blast Ultra's objective is clear each stage by getting your marble successfully across a complex series of lanes. Along the way you might have do some collecting, or simply hit the goal, but it's always a challenge. The obstacles that you have to overcome range from the simple wall to the hard, which includes ice, pinball bumpers, and giant fans. The main annoyance, or should I say "tricky obstacle" was the icy surfaces. When added with other dynamics like upward climbs and bumpers, you'll spend a lot of your time falling off the board. The gravity puzzles are also a tricky situation and a part of Marble Blast that brings in the puzzle aspect more then strategy. The level design is clever, and fairly different throughout the entire game. The variation of the levels is is clearly one of Marble Blast Ultra's strong points. Although challenging, puzzling, and maddening, most levels can be solved using the typical rinse and repeat strategy. Now add some luck and you're ready to attempt that level one more time.
60 Levels of Madness
Now, I'm not trying to scare gamers away from Marble Blast Ultra, it can be hard, and it can be easy. The game is balanced in three different categories, one for ever skill level (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced). You will most likely be starting slow and progressing to the harder levels, that's what I'd suggest anyways... no reason to rush the frustration. There is plenty to keep you busy with a total of sixty levels which thankfully you can pick at anytime. Just for a gas try one of the harder levels then jump to an easy on and you'll clearly see the difference. The beginner levels are gentle
and the advanced is rough and for the hardcore rolling freaks. I thought I'd do better then I did in Marble Blast since I completed all 100 levels of Super Monkey Ball.. No go, I'd say this ball rolling extravaganza is more difficult then Sega's Monkies.
Unique to Marble Blast and not found in other rollers is a jump feature which comes in handy along with the ability to pick up power-ups like helicopter blades to glide over far distances. You can also go online over Xbox Live in Marble Blast Ultra with support for eight players. Online is good, but the slam feast will get old fast. Myself I like the basic "rolling only" approach, but whatever floats your boat.
Presentation wise Marble Blast Ultra looks very crisp and clean in HD. The graphics, although basic have a good feel of weight, texture, and polish. The Marble itself can be customized with different colours and it shines as bright as any orb I've seen. The music also comes in with a nice techno inspired ambiance giving this a fair production value for an Xbox Live game. It's not cute like a big eared monkey trapped in a glass ball, but it works.
LOWDOWN:Marble Blast Ultra is a fun game for what it is. Rolling a ball, or marble only can be entertaining for so long. You really need patience and enjoy rolling puzzle games to get into this for the long run. I didn't find Marble Blast Ultra to be a personable, and fun as the similar Monkey Ball experience, but who can compete with cute monkeys!
In the end, Marble Blast Ultra is a clever puzzle game well worth the Microsoft Points, just make sure you try the demo before you buy.
Final Score: 7 / 10