I've played the game off and on for at least a month now. I'll play it for an hour or so, get really frustrated with my own inability to pass one particular "beginner" level, and go on to play something else instead, each time hoping that when I come back later I'll somehow have miraculously gained the ability to move just a little quicker. (For those who are familiar with the game, level 24 has proven to be my cute little marble's demise on more occasions than I'm willing to confess.)
The game is fun to play, which is what keeps me coming back to it. But it is just a little bit outside my ability level, which causes me to walk away again. My thought as I write this is that the difficulty level increases too quickly, but the truth might be more accurately stated as I'm just not as quick as I used to be. There is a little too much precision timing in the game for me to be able to get past the master levels.
The design of the game is rather ingenious, I think, and the physics behind it suggests that someone paid attention at least in high school physics class, because it is realistic… all too realistic at times. You're given a marble and a very quickly advancing clock. At each level, you have to move your marble through a maze, using special abilities such as "super jump" and "gyrocopter" to pick up gems scattered throughout the maze. For example, the level I know all too well now, has 8 gems in it. The first two are on a platform with a tornado in the center. Not too hard to avoid the tornado, and not too deadly even if you do find yourself spinning out of control for a moment. It is when you go up either of the ramps to the next platforms that things get more challenging. On one side you pick up a special ability called "Super bounce". Allow your marble to go careening off the edge of the platform toward what seems to be the great green abyss below, land on a platform, and (at just the right moment, of course) trigger super bounce in order to fly to a platform with the gem across from you. But be careful, don't bounce too hard or too fast, because the platform you land on is deceptively small. And if you are bouncing too fast, or in the wrong direction, you will find yourself falling into what the game calls "out of bounds", but I affectionately refer to "marble madness". I call it marble madness because after falling into it for the 30th time in the night, you'll be wanting to throw your virtual marble at the computer screen. The ball slows down while going up ramps, and you can use keyboard controls to "put on the brakes" if you find the marble moving too fast. But even that doesn't help me when trying to land a marble that's been turned into a "gyrocopter" to get that last gem.
One change that I know would help me a lot would be to be able to lock the camera control behind the marble, or have a "turn left" "turn right" option rather than just moving in that direction. Having to keep hands on both the keyboard and mouse at the same time in order to move the camera to stay behind the marble often proved to be my downfall. The game can be a lot of fun, especially if you are the type that likes to challenge your eye-hand coordination. For me, though, I just don't have the dexterity and patience to play the game.
The “glory days” of computer gaming for me were when games like Spectre Supreme, Pirate’s Gold, the Might and Magic series, the original Prince of Persia… those sorts of games were coming out on a regular basis. Back then I owned a Macintosh and was a die hard Mac fan. I was one of the first in my area to buy an iMac and on it learned the joy of playing games on the internet like daily crossword puzzle and “mind bender” type puzzles. My first online RPG was given to me for Christmas the year EQ was released, and I was hooked from day one. I played EQ for about a year. I started playing DaoC during late alpha testing, and was hooked on it.. well, to be honest I still am. I’ve tried pretty much every MMORPG I can get my hands on, from big names like EQ, to more obscure ones such as Underlight. I’ve been writing for IMGS since the first DaoC guide, and find I love the challenge of learning a game and presenting what I’ve learned (and sometimes my opinions), to other players.
I’m not a very strong player as far as learning PvE or quick reaction times, so I tend to stay away from games where I’m pitted against someone else in a way that requires physical (rather than mental) response. I still enjoy story and puzzle games, and in a way that’s how I still approach online games. I would much rather spend hours working through a quest than 5 minutes in combat against another player. I still get lost in simulation type games, obsessing over them until I’ve gotten them beaten. And I like being able to sit down at the computer when I’ve got less than half an hour and playing through a few levels of a puzzle game. I tend not to like first-person shooter type games, or anything with person to person violence, so I steer away from them unless they are fantasy based settings. All in all, I enjoy computer gaming so much that my life feels incomplete somehow when my computer is down.