Guide your marble to the exit as fast as possible with the help of power-ups and a smidge of luck in Marble it Up! from Bad Habit Productions.
Marble It Up! is a physics-based platforming game where you guide your marble through forty stages of varying difficulty. Early game tutorials have you starting with simple motion, moving on to camera controls, jumping, and using the physics and power-ups to help you surmount each level.
Levels consist of a starting portal and a goal platform, and although there are some variations to level requirements, getting to the goal is the ultimate task. The largest challenge of the game is figuring how to time the momentum of jumps to ensure that your glassy companion doesn’t go careening off a precarious ledge. Additional gameplay elements such as gems that you have to collect add to the difficulty of what the game really wants you to do: complete the level as fast as humanly possible. You are awarded medals based on your time of completion, the lower the better, as per usual. These times are stored from local players that have played the game on your system or a global leaderboard, where you can compare times and even compete against or watch ghost runs from other players. It’s the only multiplayer to speak of in the game right now, but apparently real player vs player multiplayer modes are coming in an update.
Power-ups add some additional, albeit temporary, gameplay options to your repertoire. Super Speed launches you forward at high velocity, naturally affording you the ability to move faster but also launch up ramps that otherwise would be too steep to climb. Super Jump lets you gain some additional altitude, allowing you to access some otherwise inaccessible heights. Time Travel slows down time for five seconds, and lets you overcome some tricky corners and obstacles with additional reaction time. Feather Fall allows your marble to glide slowly over long distances, making gaps easier to overcome and allowing for more pinpoint accuracy as it slows down the speed of your marble considerably. Each power-up has its own particular use, and a lot of levels have multiple power-ups scattered about so you can experiment with how to complete the level the fastest.
There are no enemies in the game, per se, but there are plenty of obstacles. Moving platforms wouldn’t typically be such a challenge in a platforming game, but in Marble It Up!, your marble moves around as the platform moves, requiring you to roll it constantly to keep the marble from falling off. Gravity walls, or to say, walls that you can stick to, allow for a mind-bending alteration to the environment, sometimes completely flipping the world upside-down and is a bit disorienting by itself. The closest thing that comes to an enemy in this game are some red crates with menacing faces painted on them that move back and forth quickly between fixed positions. If hit by one of these crates, your marble will certainly fly off to its doom and it’s back to the beginning of the level, losing all your progress in the process.
Checkpoints ease the pain from a total level restart, but are rather sparse and some really challenging levels don’t contain any at all. The insanely difficult levels also creep up without any warning, as you go from blissfully easy to ‘this is really bothering my fear of heights’ a moment later. This happens at the end of the game, but I feel like the pacing is a bit off compared to the rest of the game, which seemed to handle its own pacing pretty well, easing you into the challenge with learned tutorials and a pinch of hand-holding here and there.
Hidden trophies are found within the forty levels that allow you to unlock additional skins for your marble. Each skin is merely a visual update and does not affect the physics of the marble, but there are some visually impressive ones, such as a mirror, and one that looks like your marble is made of ice. Overall, it’s a nice gesture to add a bit of replayability to the game, but it doesn’t really add anything to gameplay.
From start to finish, I was able to breeze through Marble It Up! in a little bit under an hour and a half. This time included looking for the trophies in some of the levels and repeating stages to try to get a better time. I would say that while there were a lot of levels to play, the encouragement towards speeding through these levels does a disservice to the game. I feel like I would have spent more time going through each level if there were more collectibles or if I simply wasn’t being bared down on by the dreaded clock. Even with the short playthrough, it makes sense that the game wants you to focus on lowering your times and since that will offer replay value to many, it at least makes the length bearable.
One thing I most certainly have to give props to is the graphics in this game. As I was playing the Nintendo Switch version, I was surprised to see a constant sixty frames-per-second, regardless of what was happening on the screen. Also, the usage of bumpmaps to increase visual fidelity and real-time reflections of the game world upon the marble really impressed, and helps add to the overall sheen. The set pieces aren’t anything too grandiose, as most of the levels consist simply of floating platforms, but I respect how they handled the themes of each level and can tell they really spent a fair amount of time on the design. The music, overall, I didn’t find particularly catchy, but having the ability to control what song is playing through the pause menu is a nice bonus.
Marble It Up! is a fun marble platforming game from some of the developers that made the Marble Blast games. It seems like a sequel to those games, while upping the graphics and variety of gameplay a bit. The game is rather short in comparison, but with promised updates for both multiplayer and additional levels, it should help round the game out into a fairly-sizable product. Definitely check this game out if you are a fan of puzzle platformers or looking for something new for your Switch.
Marble It Up! is available now for the Nintendo Switch and on Steam.