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Marble Blast Ultra XBOX LIVE ARCADE Review

Marble Blast Ultra is a next generation twist on the classic NES title Marble Madness. The graphics are even reminiscent of the isometric checkerboard of the NES original. It is made by Garage Games Torque Engine, a huge Indie studio that offers engines and platforms for a lot of Indie developers to make games. I personally have never used Torque Shader or any of the other Torque based engines, but I can say this about Marble Blast...It is by far the best looking Xbox Live game that I have played or seen. Super clean 3d graphics, and simple gameplay permeate through this title.

Gameplay: 8.5/10
Pros: The gameplay is very easy to pick up and play. As you play through the levels, each level offers a new twist on the gameplay from superjumps, to gyrocopters, to gravity altering properties, to moving platforms and hazards.
Cons: Not nearly enough levels. Certain levels (like black diamond) you just want more of because they are so fun to play. All the different power-ups and twists could've easily led to more levels and combinations. The difficulty has huge jumps from one set of levels to the next...beginner is fine and very easy...intermediate is about right...and then advanced is really hard! There definitely could've been a series of levels between intermediate and advanced.

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: The graphics aren't Gears of War good, but are as clean as many original Xbox games and this IS an xbox Live title so it's very impressive. The checkered ground immediately conjurs up memories of Marble Madness.

Cons: Variety of the scenery is the only complaint I think could be made by someone.

Sound/Music: 7/10
Pros: The starting sound when your marble is warming up is memorable. Everything sound wise is fine and simplistic (clicks/clacks of marble collisions, minimalistic music, etc.).
Cons: The starting sounds and beeps are the only things that I can really though the game doesn't have laughable voice work a la Resident Evil 1, this category is forgettable.

Lasting Appeal: 6/10
Pros: 60 levels, and a very decent multiplayer mode will keep you occupied. The gameplay is very fun and certain levels are just flat out fun to roll around in.

Cons: The frustration factor of some of the later levels may wear on you. The 60 levels can be quickly beaten (first 20 in less than an hour) and you won't really die consistently till advanced. The game is really short and unless you're into getting below par time for every course, there's nothing to really draw you back. A level editor would have made this THE BEST xbox live arcade game out there. Shame.

Average: 78.75%
Tilt (+/-): -0.75%

Xbox Live games are meant to be more casual or arcadey (not a word) and that's what makes them great distractions for when you're downloading the new uber large Xbox 360 demo. Marble Blast Ultra is one of the few original Live Arcade releases and that immediately makes me look favorably on it. I would much rather spend my Microsoft Points ($10) on a game that's new and I'ver never played before than spend the same amount on a older SNES, NES, classic arcade game that I've played already. Download Marble Blast and give it a try. If you like the demo you'll like the full game.

Verdict: 78%

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