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Marble It Up! Review


See PixlBit's Review Policies On 10/04/2018 at 10:38 PM by Nick DiMola

You'll have a Marble Blast... once the rest of the content is available.
The Bottom Line: If you want to support Bad Habit, throw down the full asking price now. For everyone else, I'd suggest waiting out the new content before taking the $20 plunge.

Back when the GameCube released, I developed a real love for rolling monkeys in balls along complex tracks while hoping to reach the finish line without falling off. Yes, Super Monkey Ball was truly something special. Later, during the Wii’s lifespan, a couple titles based around rolling marbles appeared under a new series, Kororinpa, scratching that same itch. These were incredible games that used the Wii’s motion control to great effect and since then I’ve been pining for more ball rolling goodness in whatever form I can get it. Enter Marble It Up, a spiritual successor to the Marble Blast series that had its final release on the PC and Xbox 360. While I missed these titles, if Marble It Up indicates their quality, I’m sure I’d have loved them.

Most of you are likely aware of the Early Access program on Steam. There’s no such analog on consoles, but Bad Habit Productions is treating Marble It Up very much like an early access title. The initial release is fairly barebones. There are a scant 40 levels to roll through and little else to bring you back short of trying to best your times for a silver, gold or platinum medal or locating new skins for your marble. However, a fairly promising roadmap has been laid out. An expanded level offering is due shortly, followed by a level editor on PC, multiplayer, and eventually curated community content to continue bringing up the level count.

It’s a bit of a tough sell at $19.99 to jump in on a promise. But here’s the thing, what’s on offer is fantastic. The game both looks great and runs at a smooth 60fps. The controls are responsive and the physics feel realistic, so it's quite easy to predict how the marble will behave, allowing you to plan out and pull off some crazy moves.

The gameplay is varied, offering an array of challenges. Sometimes it’s working through a complex puzzle of locating gems scattered about on different surfaces and levels where gravity is constantly changing. Other levels are purely precisions based, while some are more of a race to the finish, forcing you to both optimize your path and leverage the physics to move as quickly as possible. Many levels bring in power ups that help change your strategy and pathing. It might be worth going off course for a moment to grab a lightning bolt to move super fast, or an arrow to super jump and skip a whole portion of the course. In other instances you'll need to grab the power up just to move forward, as is often the case with the wing that reduces gravity. When you're trying to grab the medals, the pause buttons slow down the clock and make it easier to hit the target times, but often come at a risk or are challenging to collect.

With all these power-ups, you can imagine how nuanced the design can get, but unfortunately with the small offering of levels, difficulty builds a bit too gradually. A good chunk of the first two worlds are basically tutorials and things don't seem to open up until you're about halfway through. Eventually hazards are introduced and the levels become even more grandiose and complex. You’ll need to conquer ice, bumpers, fast moving obstacles, and even keep pace with platforms that will ferry you around the level. By the fourth world, everything is in place and the challenge becomes quite substantial. Accomplishing a gold medal in these worlds feels like an achievement and with the quick restart cycle, it’s easy to obsess over accomplishing these goals.

Sadly, there's not much else to say about Marble it Up at the moment. What’s on offer is fantastic and the later levels show how creative the design can get when all of the hazards, power-ups, and capabilities are layered together. However, there’s very little there. I blasted through getting gold medals on everything in a span of about three hours. I did spend some time tracking down skins and while grabbing those can be a lot of fun, I'd much rather be conquering new levels. It's worth mentioning that achieving the platinum medals is a substantial challenge and for those who like continuously trying to break the game and find the best possible path, this might be the ticket to a much longer experience for you.

Rather than leave you with a particular score for Marble It Up, it’s my recommendation that you wait until some of the content on the roadmap becomes available before making a purchase. Feel free to jump in now as a vote of confidence for Bad Habit Productions, but just know that for the asking price you’re not getting much. When all of the content on the roadmap becomes available, I’d wholeheartedly recommend a purchase because it'll have enough meat on its bones to justify the asking price.

VERDICT
TRY

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Cary Woodham

10/04/2018 at 11:19 PM

I recently finished my review of this on the Switch.  it'll be up on the site I write for later next week!  I liked it a lot, but then, I love games like Marble Madness, Super Monkey Ball, and Marble Blast Ultra.

Cary Woodham

10/12/2018 at 10:16 AM

And here's my review of Marble it Up!

http://www.gamerdad.com/blog/2018/10/12/marble-it-up-switch/

Matt Snee Staff Writer

10/05/2018 at 10:48 AM

Is this review not supposed to have stars displayed? I don't see them?

Nick DiMola Director

10/05/2018 at 12:14 PM

Did it as a recommendation since the game isn't really fully developed. Maybe when all the content hits, I'll adjust the review and score it appropriately.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

10/05/2018 at 12:48 PM

Ah I see.

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Marble It Up! Review

Back when the GameCube released, I developed a real love for rolling monkeys in balls along complex tracks while hoping to reach the finish line without falling off. Yes, Super Monkey Ball was truly something special. Later, during the Wii’s lifespan, a couple titles based around rolling marbles appeared under a new series, Kororinpa, scratching that same itch. These were incredible games that used the Wii’s motion control to great effect and since then I’ve been pining for more ball rolling goodness in whatever form I can get it. Enter Marble It Up, a spiritual successor to the Marble Blast series that had its final release on the PC and Xbox 360. While I missed these titles, if Marble It Up indicates their quality, I’m sure I’d have loved them.

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