iPad Game Review: Marble Mixer for iPad Reviewed by Guy Dayen
The great thing about Neapolitan Ice Cream is that you get three great flavors in the same package. By extension, the same can be said for Marble Mixer for iPad, since you get three great marble games in one app, and who can resist that? A very enjoyable game when played against the AI becomes a riot when played with friends. If you need to liven up an evening, this is the game for you! Marble Mixer is also available now for the iPhone and iPod touch.
The name says it all: what you?re getting is a marble game, or rather three. In Space Mania, you have unlimited marbles and one minute in which to rack up the highest score possible by placing marbles on a round target. The closer to the middle you get, the more points you score; but beware of falling into the hole in the middle - you don?t get any points for plunging into the abyss. The gameplay in Table Tactics is similar, but you are limited to only ten marbles in this variation. In both games, you will score extra points if you can knock other players? marbles into the center hole. Judicious marble placement and shrewd strategy will result in impressive high scores.
The third game, Monster Picnic, has players trying to achieve the opposite goal; here, players must ?feed? the monster by dropping their own marbles into the mouth of the monster, while avoiding putting other players? marbles into the monster?s hungry mouth. In all three games, the first player to win three rounds wins the game, so scoring a lot of points is very important!
Four players can participate in each of the games, from the four corners of the iPad?s screen. You can choose to play with three other friends (the most amusing option by far!) or you can decide on any combination of human and AI players.
A real plus about this game is the simple gameplay. Anyone can play this, young and old, male or female, casual gamer or hardcore competitor. I tested this game with a variety of players, and every one of them said they had a great time. Three-year olds could figure out how to play in a few seconds, and they loved to play ?feed the monster?. Adults loved the thrill of flinging the other players? marbles down into the hole, while laughing maniacally as the marbles disappeared into nothingness.
It?s a wonderful party game; casual enough to be played for a few minutes, yet deep enough to keep the competition going for an hour. If you want your social gathering to be a hit, you would do much worse than to trot out this little gem. At two dollars, it?s a real value, and you will find yourself playing the game time and again.
The art direction is topnotch in all three games. Space Mania features a very retro-looking (and very cool) rocket. The Table Tactics screen looks like a fine inlaid game table. Monster Picnic features a cartoony monster, who is asleep until the game gets underway. Kids loved waking up the monster to begin the game.
The marbles themselves are very realistic. The animation is quite smooth, and looks terrific on the iPad?s big screen. The controls are quite simple: swipe the marbles and aim where you want it to go. The controls to be quite responsive and the game physics are quite good - you simply need to practice so your aim can improve.
Pressing the Help button brings up the Help Screens, which can be switched up by swiping the screen, Cover Flow style. It?s another nice touch that shows the attention to detail that the developers have lavished on this game.
Each game gets its own theme music. There again, the quality of the work done for this game is evident. The music is pleasant enough, and in Space Mania, also gives you an auditory cue that your sixty seconds of marble tossing are coming to a close. However, if you want to play your own music, there is an option to let you do just that.
The sound design is simple, but perfectly done. The sound of the marbles clicking against each other has been rendered just right. The snoring when the monster sleeps is another welcome addition, whimsical and fun.
This app won?t replace a real game of marbles played outside with friends, and there?s no reason it should. Once in a while, put the iPad down, and go outside. Play a real game with real things, out in the fresh air. It will do you a world of good. If you have kids, it?ll be great for them, too. Wonderful memories are made of little things like that.
But when you?re stuck inside, memories can also be made around the kitchen table. Pull out your iPad, gather the family around, and have yourself an old-fashioned game night. It will be fun for all - I guarantee it. If you?re at a party and you want to relive the glory days of childhood, this game will take you right back. And hey, if things go south, there?ll be a brand new way for you to take your marbles and go home!
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5): 5
Graphics: 5 - Rockets, monsters and marbles. Bright colors, great textures. Enough said!
Sound: 4.5 - Minimal sound effects, but they are well-done. Music that won?t grate your nerves, and the option to listen to your own tunes. Well done.
Controls: 5 - Flick those marbles and rack up those points. The game takes good advantage of the touch control capabilities of the iPad.
Gameplay: 5 - An uncomplicated game, but tons of fun. The classics usually are. Has unlimited replacement value. A definite winner, and one of the very best marble games for the iPad.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Practice, practice, practice; that?s all there is to it! You can set the game to play by yourself to perfect your aim. You can play against AI opponents to perfect your marble-hitting skills. Do it discreetly, and amaze family and friends with your marble dexterity.