Marble Madness is an action video game where you must guide a marble down a dangerous course to a goal at the bottom while avoiding hazards and not falling off the track. The game was developed and published by Atari Games and first released in the Arcade in 1984, and then ported to about 20 different platforms. This is the first game in the Marble Madness series. The arcade game used a large rotating ball for a controller which gave fairly precise control over the marble's speed and direction, but was lost on most ports.
The game saw a lot of technical firsts for the arcade. It was the first published arcade game written in the C programming language, the first to feature stereo sound (by using two mono sound boards), and the first to use the Atari System 1 hardware.
Being a fan of toys like marble runs, I was immediately attracted to this game. I presume I saw it in a magazine before buying it, but I did buy it new in stores. However, when I began playing it at home, I discovered that the game wasn't all that interesting and very repetitive. I never got that great at it, and, even at my best, I could only reach level 5.
I own this game on the NES, but I have not beaten it.
Best Version: Arcade
— This section contains spoilers! —
- Using a ball controller was a great way to allow for precise control over your marble, and a nice gimmick.
- The game's graphics, drawn by Sam Comstock, looked amazing in 1984, and stand up well to this day. The heavy shadow makes the game look surreal.
- Hal Canon composed some unique and enjoyable music for the game. The every increasing tempo of the Silly Race was interesting indeed.
- The game's design, by Mark Cerny, has some pretty creative aspects to it like the acid puddles and marble munches, and I like the Rube Goldberg style mechanics of the levels. I also like the little broom that cleans up a shattered marble.
- With only six short courses, the entire game can be beaten by an expert player in about 4 minutes! I understand this is expected for arcade machines, but I would prefer if the home versions created more levels that were easier.
- Although there are a couple sections of the game where there are multiple paths and expert control allows for shortcuts, most of the game relies on following a very strict path.
- The game is far too hard to beat with the allotted time.
- Despite the intricacies, the game is terribly repetitive. Due to its shortness and high difficulty level, most new players will see a game over on level 2 and require a lot of refinement to reach the later levels where they're just playing the same thing over and over again. It's really boring.
- Marble Madness - PCB - USA.jpg
This cover was used on the Electronic Arts ports: Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIgs, Commodore 64, and PC Booter. I love the high contrast, reflection in the marbles, and simulated motion. I'm not crazy about the lettering though. This is my second-favorite cover.
This art was used on the NES, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System, and Japanese Mega Drive releases. This art also has great simulated motion and marble reflection, but I think the collision and background ramps better illustrate the game, and I also like the lettering more. This is my favorite cover.
|Japanese||マーブルマッドネス||Maburu Maddonesu||Marble Madness|