MarbleBlast Ultra: Like Warm Butter

Thumbs Up!so. i’d been avoiding it since i downloaded the demo and devoured the half a dozen or so levels that ship with it.

i bought marbleblast ultra and it’s a riot.

the controls are super responsive, but have enough play in them that is just ‘feels right.’ it reminds me a lot of when mario 64 first came out. simply maneuvering mario around that world was most of the fun of the game.

it has that gentle balance between inertia and weight that is so much fun in driving games when you swing the ass-end of your porsche around a tight corner as you power-slide through the curve.

yeah. it’s like that.

i powered through both the entire set of beginner levels and the intermediate levels, making par times or better on all of them. that’s 40 straight levels of love, folks. all of it good. (a few of them, i was even ranked in the top 1000 — woot!) and, i still have the whole set of 20 advanced levels to go.

then, i fired up the multiplayer mode for a bit of ball-on-ball action. it’s a total kick in the pants.

where the single player levels are more like precision highwire acts, the multiplayer levels are more like a skatepark-come-moshpit. you roll around, bouncing off of each other as you chase ‘gems’ around the ‘park’ for points. the one with the most points in the time limit wins.

you’ll find yourself bounce-blasting off ridges and screeching around corners in a balls-out (pun intended) race to the next grouping of gems.

i can see why the guys at penny-arcade love it.

speaking of multiplayer, tho, there’s something incredible that needs to be pointed out. i’ve seen a couple of articles on how xbox live and achievements are bringing back the old arcade ‘high score’ love from decades past.

this is different.

instead of one monolithic score (you have one of those too) times and scores and rankings are broken out by level. so, basically, it comes down to who performed best in that 2 minutes of gameplay — one level at a time.

it’s leaderboards for each individual level. between you and your friends (or those top-page crazies who complete a level in 3.5 seconds that takes me 1:30? how? email me with how!), who can complete the level faster. there were several instances where i’d completed a level under par, but went back just to dust my buddy trizity’s times. heh. talk about replayability.

when did casual games get so competitive?

it raises the bar and redefines multiplayer gaming in a casual game setting. simply a fantastic game burrowing down to the very essence that is ‘gaming.’


7 comments so far

  1. Sh0cKa on

    hahah yea this game is a blast. I bought it right after i played the demo, i couldn’t get enough and i can’t get enough of the XBLA. I get to have mindless fun with puzzle games and whatnot in the comfort of my living room. All my friends come by and always critize me for playing such low-tech games on my system but when they sit down and watch for 5 min they get into it just as much as me becomming the back seat driver of video games telling me what my next move should do and saying they coudl do better. XBLA with games like marble blast bring much excitment and bang for your buck. i think i’ll go check out your scores right now and try and top them =P and the advanced levles get really challenging

  2. m3mnoch on

    heh. right on.

    yeah. a lot of them i was just ‘push through with a par’ but a few of them…. ‘take that bitch! aha! top 1000!’


  3. Grindstone on

    My wife just beat Zuma has 3 more achievement points to get before completely beating the game. She already has Marblablast Ultra in her sights as the next “must play” game from XBLA. I wish I could play my 360. It was my B-day present, dammit.

  4. Grindstone on

    Heh, now that I have finished reading the article, I will say that XBLA is reinventing the “highest score” frenzy that we used to get from the local arcades. Except this isn’t about who’s the best in the neighborhood, this spans acrossed a small world of gamers. The bragging rights are now substantially higher. The frenzy will grow.

    Kinda exciting, except I won’t be a part of it, but I’ll support my wife!

  5. m3mnoch on

    i’m right there with you dude. my wife has a higher gamerscore than i do. more hours logged. the whole bit.



  6. Oncnawan on

    This brings up a point mentioned in posts responding to another one of your blogs. The two thumbstick setup on the controller is perfect for this game. I played a marble game (same dev, I think) on the PC a year or so ago. The mouse keyboard combo was attrocious for the smooth movements needed in this kind of game. The same goes for racing and adventure games.

    Marble Blast Ultra is a great game. XBLA was a very insightful inclusion on the console. I hope to see more original content on the Marketplace soon (as opposed to rereleases of old hits).

  7. jc on

    It’s the most fun multiplayer game I’ve played in years. I bought DOA 4 and Perfect Dark Zero with my 360 a week ago, but ever since I layed my hands on Marble BU, it’s all I’ve been playing..

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