Review by coocoo66
An extremely addictive and challenging maze game, and a very influential game as well.
Marble Madness involves a very basic premise. Guide a marble through a series of 6 mazes in a certain amount of time. You can move the marble at high or low speeds, and your marble is a bit slippery and unstable, just like a real marble. You must navigate your way through tricky paths, and avoid certain enemies that are out to get your marble. Some enemies will try to bump you off, some will try to swallow you.
You start the game off with a certain amount of time, and for beating each stage, you get a time bonus. Each stage has a series of twists and turns and enemies to face, and every stage does its own little thing. When your marble falls off or gets cracked, you'll have to be sent to your last stable point, costing you a few seconds. Some stages have shortcuts through pipes or very narrow paths, and some have slipper floors to contend with. The stages in Marble Madness will all seem tough at first. You get only one credit to beat the game, and some areas will initially seem impossible. Though a full runthrough may only take 5-10 minutes, you won't be able to do that until you've got the game down pat.
I've pretty much summed up why this game is so fun. No stage is the same in design and theme. The challenge is very high, but the fact that the game is so short keeps you coming back for more and more, until all the sudden it's 2 AM and you're still awake. As you get used to the physics, your marble speeds through each stage like a madman(or marble- I think I get the title now), and the screen scrolling will barely keep up with you. The spots that were insurmountable will seem like child's play. And the final stage has an excellent climax, and once you finally cross the final finish line, you will feel a great sense of achievement. Or at least I did. The only possible downside is that it does not take so long to beat the game, since it is quite short. But I still kept playing until I could beat it 3 times in a row and beat it with 30 seconds to spare.
Marble Madness is a technological achievement. I will point out that I do not use time capsule reviews. If I give this game a 9, that means I think it is as good as any PS2 game I give a 9. That being said, the graphics are terrific, especially for a 1984 game. The marble and moving environmental hazards animate smoothly, the 3D depth in the game is pulled off very well, and there are nice touches like a broom sweeping up broken marbles. The isometric areas are smooth and sharp, if not full of color. The music must have also been very advanced. It is a rich and dramatic soundtrack that is sounds like something from a fantasy movie. 1984 or now, this is an aesthetically pleasing game.
Marble Madness is the progenitor of addicting maze games such as Cameltry or Super Monkey Ball, and people who have enjoyed such games owe it to themselves to play this game. It is an excellently designed game all-around, and many other great maze games would not exist without it. I played this on Midway Arcade Treasures on the Gamecube, and the Gamecube analog had spot-on control. If you enjoy maze games, make sure you have played Marble Madness.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Marble Madness (US, 12/31/84)
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