I am a massive fan of bringing back ideas from games of the past that are no longer around. Marble it Up! instantly caught my eye as it reminded me of one of my favourite games to play on the Nintendo Gamecube, Super Monkey Ball. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen or played other games that gave me that same vibe, so when my editor asked me to review Marble it Up!, I knew instantly that I would enjoy the game.
Developers Blueteak, The Engine Company, Shapes and Lines, and Arcturus Interactive (under Bad Habit Productions) have not only captured the feeling well, but they have also been great at supporting the game with updates post-release.
So, what is the concept of Marble it Up!? It’s very very simple, you control a ball which you must roll and jump your way from the starting point to the end of the stage in a specific time limit. Sounds simple right? There is no crazy narrative for you to have to succumb yourself to, no Princess to save, no Metal Gear to destroy; not even any Gym Leaders to battle! Just nice and simple gameplay.
There are a total of 50 levels spread throughout five chapters. Naturally, the first chapter is a tutorial on what you will encounter as you play the other chapters. It serves up as a fairly simple to follow tutorial that demonstrates that the game has relatively easy controls. I played the game using an Xbox One controller, rather than with the mouse and keyboard, and found the controls to be quite comfy and easy to operate. The left analogue stick moves the ball around while the right stick controls the camera. Other than that, you have a button to jump and one to use special abilities that you pick up on the course.
Each course is timed, offering a variety of medals based upon your completion time. Realistically, you do not have to get the Diamond time to advance through the levels, but beating those times is what will draw you to replay a level over and over to find what corners you can cut to shave off seconds. When you are determined to get the fastest time possible, you will quickly discover how well the levels are constructed. The most concise and obvious path that you want to take is never the way to get the elusive Diamond medals.
Naturally, the beginning of the game is very simple and does not consist of too much challenge. Around the time you are on the 3rd chapter, you will notice the difficulty level really start to spike. Instead of big open corridors, you will be navigating your ball down very slim passageways. Even the slightest loss of concentration will send your ball to the nethers of the abyss! As I mentioned earlier though, where there is definitely a challenge, the level designs are so cool that you will want to find every explorable option.
After you have finished all 50 levels, your adventures in Marble it Up! is not over, that is if you don’t want them to be. Upon visiting the Steam store page, you are given the tools of the Steam Workshop* to create and play your own levels! But wait, there’s more – within 10 minutes of looking through the workshop I had about 15 more levels to play myself! The community of builders knows no bounds as some of the levels I downloaded were even tougher than the levels the developers designed! Not only that, but there are also some easier levels that are built to just be fun as hell with their amazingly detailed designs
* Workshop support is only on PC, I don’t think there is any support for building and sharing your own levels on the Switch version.
I really enjoyed my time with Marble it Up!, bringing back fond memories of games such as Super Monkey Ball and Marble Madness. However, the game only took me an evening to beat all the levels which come as part of the game (at least once). The beauty of having the time-based medal rating system is that I know that I will want to keep coming back until I have all the Diamond medals. I hope that Bad habit productions continue to support the game as well as all of the talented creators out there who have put together enough downloadable courses to last a very long time!
Marble it Up! seems to be also coming to the PS4 and Xbox One in the near future as well!