Marble Blast Mobile
While not perfect, this Marble is a blast for more experienced players.
Already a big hit on Xbox Live Arcade, Garage Games brought Marble Blast to the iPhone with the portable Mobile entry. It's essentially a 3-D spin-off of the old arcade game Marble Madness, but much faster and with power-ups. It isn't for everyone, especially since some of the levels are excruciatingly difficult. That said, those who roll with the punches should have fun with it.
You play by rolling a marble through a series of levels (20 in all). Along the way, you'll need to hit checkpoints and other objective markers before reaching the goal. You'll need to proceed in the fastest time possible, as each level awards gold, silver and bronze medals. There are numerous tricks to each level, including icy floors, uphill slopes, elevators, moving platforms and other obstacles. Fortunately, you don't roll without assistance. Scattered throughout each level are power-ups that help you out, including gravity shifters, a helicopter blade that allows you to levitate for several seconds and a super jump that sends you to a higher portion of the stage.
A word of warning: Marble Blast Mobile will eventually frustrate you. A few of these levels are sickeningly hard, to the point that you'll find yourself giving up and trying again later. This may turn-off rookie players, but if you stick with it, you'll reap the rewards.
Marble Blast Mobile features two different control schemes, Touch and Tilt. Touch consists of an on-screen joystick to control movement and another to change direction. Unfortunately, it's inaccurate half the time because it forces you off a ledge. Tilt is much better, as you actually tilt your iPhone the way you want to go while pressing on-screen cursors to change direction and touching your marble to jump.
Garage Games did a splendid job porting the game to the iPhone. The visuals are sharp, with a fast-running frame rate and smartly designed levels. The atmospheric touches are equally impressive, including gorgeous night skies. The marbles look like the real thing, right down to the physics when they suddenly change direction. Better still, several customized marbles are available to use, so take your pick and get rolling.
There's not much to the sound, outside of some techno-inspired background tunes, weapon pick-up notifications by a female announcer ("Super jump!!") and low-key audio effects. Still, chances are you won't mind what's coming through your iPhone's speakers.
Along with the 20-level single player component, you can also roll along with others in head-to-head multiplayer through ten levels. It takes a little while to get connected to other players, but the competitive edge really pays off. Nothing beats knocking your marble with others and slamming them off the playfield.
In spite of its ridiculous difficulty and imprecise Touch controls, Marble Blast Mobile is worth a purchase, especially for the five-dollar introductory price. If you're a fan of Marble Madness or just looking for an arcade game along the lines of Super Monkey Ball, you'll enjoy this. Just don't lose your marbles.
What's Hot: Groovy music and visuals, many levels and marble designs to choose from, tilt controls work as intended, cool power-ups, engaging multiplayer.
What's Not: Some levels are unbelievably frustrating, the touch controls need work.