Review by ChocoboLeonhart

Reviewed: 06/23/06

High replay value, challenging levels and a fun multiplayer make this one a great buy

High replay value, challenging levels and a fun multiplayer make this one a great buy.
Marble Blast Ultra is one of the better arcade games available. Admittedly at first you may find this a little bland and even a little boring, but this soon changes as you progress through the single player mode.

Your job is to guide a simple glass marble across 60 courses, collecting gems if required then racing to the finish. Balancing on beams, moving platforms, using gravity modifiers to flip the whole level 90 degrees and performing tricky jumping maneuvers are just a few of the things you'll be doing to reach your goal. Sound like Super Monkey Ball? Well that would be because it basically is.. the similarities are numerous although there are some differences.

The game starts off mind numbingly easy as the first few levels give you a tutorial of how to play the game, you know, things like 'press forward and your marble will move'. This makes for a slow start and you'll be hard pressed to fail a level in your first hour of play. But while the first 20 or so levels are a breeze, the remaining 40 gradually become more challenging, eventually becoming pretty fiendish in their difficulty. Fortunately though, each level is strewn with checkpoints which certainly makes life easier on those last levels.

Adding more depth to the proceedings are the numerous power-ups such as superjumps and gyrocopters (turns you into a heli-marble) )that litter the levels. These really come into their own in multiplayer though, where using powerups to their potential will make the difference between winning and coming dead last.

Multiplayer sees you being placed on a map where gems which give you points are spawned randomly at a place on the map and then you and several other marbles making a mad dash towards them. First to collect the gems gets points, then more immediately spawn at another part of the map and the process begins again. This continues until time is up, and the player with the most points wins. That's basically all there is to it in multiplayer mode, but that's not to say it is is boring, things can get pretty hectic and intense when 3 players are tied at 30 points each with 10 seconds on the clock. More game modes would have helped though, there's only so many times you can play the same gem dash.

Going back to single player, Marble Blast Ultra does have a degree of replay value. This comes in the form of achievements, getting all 12 will require some serious effort but at the same time it's easily possible to do in a few days. Each of the 60 single player courses has a 'par time', a time which you must beat on every level to unlock 3 separate achievements, one every 20 levels. Getting the par time on the final few courses may drive you crazy when you miss out by half a second, but that's life. Other achievements require you to find easter eggs which are hidden on some levels, another requires you to collect points on multiplayer. It all serves to make things last alot longer if getting achievements is your thing.

Marble Blast Ultra is a great buy if you want a fun, Super Monkey Ball like game with a good multiplayer feature on the side. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but if you want a challenging distraction from your other games then you can't go wrong with this.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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