Marble Madness

Just roll with it.

Review Date: April 11, 2021

Release Date: March 1, 1989

Platform: NES

Publisher: Atari

Genre: Racing

Anecdotes: Whenever things start to go downhill and people feel like they’re losing their marbles, it’s time to roll out a video game. In our case, Marble Madness was the game that would get played when we only had 15 minutes in between events.

Description: Each player controls a marble, trying to roll it down a course within a designated time limit. If he or she is successful, he or she moves on to the next course until the sixth and final course is completed.

Positives: For having only six levels, they did a nice job of putting unique things in each race. I saw “waves” that can push a marble, a catapult, split paths, pop up pins that can shoot the ball in the air, etc.

One example is this catapult they placed in there.

Negatives: This game is WAY too short. I imagine that they wanted to keep it faithful to the arcade version, but they could have had an arcade mode and an NES mode. There had to be plenty of space to put tons more tracks in. Instead, there are only six, and that hurts replay value. It also hurts the fun factor when the game can be completed in three minutes.

The game also offers time bonuses. While it’s fair to give a marble three extra seconds for running over a particular object, the ten second “magic wand” bonuses are not so fair. The problem is that they’re completely random. Marbles can’t do anything to earn them, and just as bad, they stop the marble to tap it with the wand.

More Screenshots:

Out of the way! I’m on a roll!
The game randomly gave me ten more seconds so it could laugh at my marble.
What are these green slimes? I don’t know.
This is how the Aerial Race starts. Interesting.
Yeah, take that, Rachel! I’m coming after Poppi next.
The Silly Race goes bottom to top, plus running over these things gives three extra seconds.

Final Opinion: This is an amusing short play, but there’s barely any content in the game. What content there is, though, does an excellent job of not repeating things.

Grade: C

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