Now I love epic stories and managing stat points as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to play something simple and fun. Well it doesn’t get much more simple than rolling a ball around, and in gaming’s history we’ve had countless games that feature some good old fashioned rolling. Whether you prefer Marble Madness or Super Monkey Ball, there are plenty of obstacle courses to roll around in the world of video games. Marble It Up! Ultra might not sound like the summer blockbuster you’re looking for, but it was exactly what I needed these last few days.
Marble It Up! Ultra features six worlds of obstacle courses to roll through, each sporting loads of levels. As you’d expect the game starts out pretty easy, with victory being attained with only a few tilts of the stick. Before you know it though you’ll need to be using power ups, rolling at breakneck speed and even jumping to make your way to the goal.
Yes, Marble It Up! Ultra is one of those ball rolling games that features jumping, making it a little closer to a 3D platformer than a game all about precision balancing. I can’t think of another ball rolling game with jumping that implements it as well as this one though, thanks to the fact that you build momentum by spinning the ball as you jump. This means repeatedly jumping will help you reach the goal faster than just pushing to stick, but will often lead to some pretty tense moments when you need to stop or turn urgently.
Although the main goal of each stage is to simply reach the ending (and you’ll be able to play through the whole game by doing just that) there are also times to beat if you want to earn silver, gold or diamond medals. Beating silver is often pretty doable on your first attempt, but it’ll take some practice and a lot of skill to get the other medals. Getting as much gold as possible is especially important, because you’ll need to bag a certain number of those shiny golden circles to unlock the bonus worlds and their extra tough stages to play.
As well as unlocking extra levels, earning the top tier medals will also unlock some cool new cosmetics for you to roll around rocking. There’s a certain joy to be had rolling around as a pool ball or smiley face, and there’s plenty to collect if you’re a bit of a completionist. Stages also contain hidden boxes with more of these snazzy costumes if you look hard enough, so fashionistas will want to keep their eyes peeled and get to those hard to reach places.
Perhaps my favourite thing about Marble It Up! Ultra is just how varied it manages to be with its stage design. Some levels have blocks moving back and forth just waiting to knock your marble off the edge, some have magnetic surfaces and expect you to climb on all manner of walls, and some are full of collectable diamonds you’ll need to grab to activate the goal. From start to finish I was never bored rolling my way to victory, and so much of that is because of the variety.
Some of the best elements you’ll encounter are the different power ups that litter the courses of Marble It Up! Ultra. The first you encounter of these is a boost that can be activated any time for a massive surge of momentum in the direction you’re facing, which as you can imagine is pretty handy in a time sensitive setting. There’s also a slow fall power up which is great for crossing big gaps, and a pause power up which (slightly unintuitively) slows the stage’s timer to a crawl. Using these colourful little icons wisely will enable you to finish with the very best of times, so don’t take them for granted.
As you can probably tell, I’m rather smitten with Marble It Up! Ultra, but it won’t be a game for everyone. If you aren’t a fan of other ball rolling games then it won’t do anything to convert you to the cause, and I confess some levels are less enjoyable than others. For the most part the game is just simple fun though, and that’s good enough for me.
Marble It Up! Ultra is a throwback to those arcade-like ball rolling games of the past, and is effortlessly compelling from start to finish. If rolling around obstacles and aiming for the fastest time possible sounds like your idea of a good time, then playing Marble It Up! Ultra is a no brainer.
Simple but so compelling
Perfect for best time chasers
Levels are really varied
Power ups keep things interesting
Isn't a whole lot to it
Some stages aren't as good as others