Review: Marblie


After a few games of Marblie, you'll begin to wonder if you've played the game before, but can't quite place it. Then you'll realise you're still playing the game and enjoying it. So even if it is an old concept, it's a great implementation.

Author: MRG

Version Reviewed:

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Like many of the current titles I've reviewed, Marblie is a twist on a long standing game genre, here it's the game many known as 'Lines'. That classic game takes place on a square grid, and asks you to create a line of five or more balls of a single colour. Each turn you can move one ball to any square on the grid it can reach, and after the move three more balls will appear. Over time,  the grid fills up (there's no avoiding it) and the game ends when there is no more free space.

It's a concept I have seen countless times before, and one that I find  both intriguing and infuriating at the same time. The former, because it mixes tactics with random elements, and I like planning for those sort of eventualities. And the latter because the maths of the game means you cannot keep going on forever, even with perfect play. Tetris can be never ending if you have the skill, while Lines would always have an end.

This is where Marblie has a slight advantage.

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While you need to get six balls together to vanish them, they do not need to be in a straight line - a simple connected group of six will be enough. That reduces the limiting factor of the original Lines game a touch, and a little bit more is released because Marblie is played on a hex grid, rather than a square grid.

These two changes give the game a little more longevity each time you play it, a slightly wider choice in terms of strategy, more potential moves each turn, and just a little bit more space to play with. Sure the game gets claustrophobic at the end, but that's half the fun of a game like this - have you set it up as much as you can to avoid the issues you'll come across?

Marblie is still quite a tight game, and there are no settings to tweak the game - what you see is what you get. - and the most long term goal you get is a high score table. I have a slight concern that, as you continue to play and more colours are added into the mix, the 3d effect of the balls makes it harder to differentiate between pink, purple, red, and tan, which you can accept as a challenge (as I did) or signs that the game is just being evil (well, this is a Lines game, they have evil built into them).

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Controls are intuitive, tap a ball to select it and then tap the target hex to make the move, or tap another ball to switch your attention to that one. And that's it.

Supported by in-app advertising (although I wonder if the finances would be helped with a 99c/79p donation model to remove the adverts alongside the free version), this is a great follow up to MRG's first gaming title, Lexiqo. While the XBox Live titles get all the press for returning to a regular schedule, a strong stream of titles from the indie developers is just as important. Marblie does things slightly differently, and while it might not stand out in the Store, it's a worthwhile addition to the Windows Phone platform.

It's also a nice game to play, so more of this please!

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