Review by vgc2000

Reviewed: 09/26/11

Another 8 bit rendition of Marble Madness that really shines!

The Game Gear received a surprisingly good port of Marble Madness and I really have to thank Tengen for giving me such a welcomed breath of fresh air on a handheld that’s so depraved of good games. I remember paying around fifteen bucks for this game several years back and boy am I glad that I did because it was money well spent and it seems that when ever I break out the old Game Gear this game always seems to get its fair share of play time.

Marble Madness doesn’t do anything new over the arcade original or even any other version for that fact but what it does it does well. When you first fire the game up you are treated to a rather average title screen but you get a welcomed options menu before starting the game where you can listen to the music and set the difficulty which is a big help if you’re a beginner. There’s also a stage select but you have to input a cheat to access it in the options menu but it’s easy enough to do.

You’re probably familiar with how Marble Madness plays if you’re anything of a classic gamer but if you haven’t then it plays like a precursor to games like Mojo and the Monkey Ball series. You take control of a marble and have to roll it across six increasingly treacherous obstacle courses trying to make it to a goal. You do have infinite lives but are in a constant race against the timer and you don’t get any continues so you have to stay on your toes. The game is quite hard but it’s pretty short so if you’re good then you can finish the game in less than five minutes. Don’t let the length stop you though because it take s a ton of practice to make it through all of the levels to the end. You also have to finish stages with plenty of time left on the clock as extra time is added to the next stage if you don’t use it on the current one.

There are a ton of obstacles to avoid including enemy marbles, acid, hopping enemies that eat you, vacuums, and hammers to name a few. There are also several different types of terrain ranging from a slippery ice patch to areas that slow you down and make it hard to move. It even gets more creative towards the end with a race up hill and little enemies that can be squashed to add to the timer. The ultimate test is in stage six where you have to navigate a path of disappearing and reappearing paths.

Tengen also did a good job working with the Game Gear’s limited audio capabilities. Each of the tunes from the arcade made are present though stripped down but they are all still enjoyable nonetheless. The sound effects are really done and shine here and take full advantage of the limited hardware. The graphics are also a highlight here. I can honestly say that I love the visuals of this game. The Game Gear and Sega Master System ports of this game, being largely similar, are probably the best looking 8 bit versions of the game out there. I can honestly say that I love the abstract graphics and the isometric view is handled incredibly well. My only complaint would be that stage three looks rather weird and almost graphically glitchy but it’s more of an observation than a complaint.

Marble Madness is one of those games that I consider to be a timeless classic and even though I’ve managed to finish the NES version before, I can still pretty much pick up any version of this game and still have a blast with it. Despite its really short length it’s a game that will take a ton of time to master and once you do then go and play the two player mode because that adds an all new level of depth to an already great game. If you still own a Game Gear then pick up a copy of this game as it’s incredibly well done here and a needed game for the system since a majority of the games in its library are really bad.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Marble Madness (US, 12/31/92)

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