I thought I had lost my marbles, but then I found them on the iPhone.
Marble Merge, by Superstar Games, is another in a long stream of “match the coloured objects, falling from the top of the screen, in order to prevent them from reaching the top and causing a game over” style games available on the iPhone and iPod Touch. However, this game actually has something different to offer and stands out from the crowd.
The main game should be easily recognisable by most game players out there. Colored marbles fall from the top of the screen in pairs. Tap to rotate them and drag them into position. When two marbles of the same colour touch, they merge together and form a larger marble of that colour. Keep adding marbles and the big marble will grow until, after the fifth merge, they explode. Prevent the marbles from reaching the top of the screen in order to remain in play.
Grey marbles may appear that cannot be merged with any other marbles, but they will explode a five merge marble on contact. Spiky marbles sometimes fall from the top of the screen, and they will destroy anything that they touch. Then the shrinker marble may turn up. This special marble will shrink touched marbles to their smallest size, which may be a blessing or a curse.
As marbles explode, the shaker bar will begin to fill. This allows the player to shake the iPhone and move the marbles about. This can result in further merges, or simply remove that giant column that’s nearly touching the top of the screen. There are three different modes, from normal to the insanely hard survival mode.
There are also five rather great mini games. Marble Magnet challenges players to explode, by tapping, coloured marbles that come from all sides of the screen, before they reach the central marble. If they reach the centre, then they will merge and its only five merges between you and game over. Rotomatch is similar in that the marbles come from all sides of the screen. In the centre is a coloured pair of marbles that must be rotated to match the incoming marbles. Only five lives are allowed. Finally, there is Marble Shooter. This is basically a top down flying shooter in which the player flies a marble plane and has to destroy the invading marbles. Just tap the screen in order to make your plane move and shoot. Again, you have five lives.
Marble Merge is a bright and colourful game that looks and sounds really good. But the gameplay is where the game really stands out. The main game is instantly recognisable, but what makes it different is the circular shape of the objects. As the game progresses, it becomes apparent that using marbles is far more difficult thatn squared blocks that fit together without gaps. It can take only a couple of merges to block off an entire part of the game screen, making tactical play essential. Also, as the marbles merge, they actually push other marbles out of the way, making tactics even more difficult to apply. Don’t get me wrong, strategic genius is not essential. But on the more difficult modes, quick thinking will be needed.
The second standout aspect of this little iPhone app, is the addition of the mini games. Each of these mini games offers a different challenge, and a lot of fun. In fact, I would have happily paid the asking price of this game, for just a couple of the mini games. As it is, for the price you pay, you are getting a lot of marble based gaming.
At first glance, I was not sold. But after spending some time in the company of the marbles, I am convinced that this is one of the best games of this type available, andeasily the best value for money. Go and buy it!
Marble Merge is available on iTunes here for Â£0.59