Marble Madness from THQ wireless brought back a lot of memories. The premise, which is a simple one is based on an old game I used to play on the Acorn Archimedes called Inertia, which was a steal from Atari’s 20 year-old arcade original in the days before licences. Quite simply, you have to guide your marble from one end of the course to the other.
Like the classic marble maze games the Victorians played (it’s nice to see not much has changed in over 100 years) you have to control your marble through the course without falling off the edge or getting killed by aliens on the way. The levels start off simple and progress very quickly to becoming very hard. Worse still, you’ve got to do everything against the clock.
Whilst the gameplay is addictive we have two complaints that for us spoil the experience. The first is that the zoom on the map is way too small - this does depend on the screen of the mobile phone you are playing it with, but even on our V800 test model which has a fairly large screen, the marble was incredibly far away and even to trickier.
Combine this with tricky maps and you’ll find yourself squinting at the screen rather than enjoying it. The second is that while the timed element makes sure you get a move on, it also means that if you fail to complete a level then you’ve got to go all the way back to the start, not of that level, but of the whole game and do it all over again. In our opinion, that’s sticking a little too closely to Atari’s hardcore arcade originals which were only designed for a quick blast with a few 10pence coins.
We like the concept and the gameplay, it’s just those two destructive elements of the zoom and the timer that restrict the game’s would-be universal appeal - unless you have a large enough screen on your handset.