You, too, can experience the exhilaration I enjoyed when I finally conquered that last incredibly difficult level. Marble Blast Gold is a wildly-addictive little jumping, rolling puzzle game from those wizards over at GarageGames.com. I was so completely fished in by this game it actually dragged me away from my precious World of Warcraft. Trust me when I say that's a notable event.
Not surprisingly, in Marble Blast Gold, you are the marble. The ubiquitous WASD control scheme allows you to roll around, the space bar gives you a little air time and the mouse controls the camera view. The control scheme takes some practice but it's actually very well-suited for the challenges ahead.
And there are challenges aplenty! Each level is a structure floating high in the sky. You roll and jump around on these structures, sometimes collecting gems, sometimes just racing for the goal. There are myriad obstacles strewn about the levels, from pin-ball bumpers to giant fans to oil slicks, each providing a unique challenge.
A handful of helpful gadgets such as the gyrocopter and the superjump appear at certain points to aid in overcoming the obstacles. Often times, creative use of these powerups can shave some extra seconds off the clock. Such "outside the box" thinking is usually required to beat a level's "gold time" for maximum bragging rights.
The levels fall into three categories - Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced - with 24 levels in the first two and a whopping 54 in the last. There's also a Custom category into which you can install additional levels created by other fans of Marble Blast Gold. The extra levels, level editors, game mods and alternate sky and marble textures can be found on the Marble Blast Gold website.
I should point out that Marble Blast Gold is not a game for the impatient. Sure, everything starts out easy enough, but this is a game with the cajones to be difficult. I admire this. Some of the levels will require several repeated attempts before you succeed. That said, the only frustration I felt was for my own goofs.
The game doesn't cheat by substituting frustration or tedium for real challenge. Each level is unique and well thought out. Quite often, I'd see a level for the first time and think "They have got to be kidding!" One level is a series of narrow steel girders across which the marble must carefully roll and hop to reach the goal. When I first saw it, I thought "No way!", but then I hit the goal and fireworks filled my screen to celebrate my success. Sweet victory was mine.
The only gripe I have with the game is an infrequent, but annoying bug that causes a control button to 'stick', rolling the marble right off the side of a platform. Again, this is quite rare. For the most part, the controls were quite solid.
Normally, "platform jumping" is one of the most dreaded experiences in a game. Some developers try to substitute it for real content in games that should be focusing on something else. GarageGames has made a game that elevates platform jumping from annoyance to art form. If you're up for a challenge, go grab the demo and get rolling!
In the mid 80's, I cut my teeth on a used Atari 2600 bought at a flea market and a handful of games like Space Invaders and Pac Man. I was hooked in a blink. In the decades since, I've become a big fan of many genres of games. From first-person shooters to role-playing to strategy and everything in between. The only games that categorically don't interest me are sports games.
The easiest way for a game to win me over is to have a gripping story. I'll forgive a lot in a game that grabs me and keeps me interested. The inverse is true, too. If a game does not have a killer story, its gameplay had better be pretty darn compelling to make up for it. That doesn't happen very often