Game Reviews

Play Marbles

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| Play Marbles
Play Marbles
| Play Marbles

Before such new-fangled inventions as handheld consoles and iPhones came along, the clicking of glass against glass was a familiar sound in school playgrounds as fresh-faced youngsters indulged in friendly games of marbles.

As technology has advanced and bullies hoarded all the marbles, this formerly beloved pastime has drifted slowly into obscurity. Eclipse Interactive hopes to resurrect the hobby of hitting small balls with other small balls on iPhone.

The aptly-named Play Marbles contains three basic modes, Ringer the one you're likely to recognise from your misspent youth. Here, 13 target marbles are placed in a circle and the first player to successfully knock out seven or more with their shooter marble wins the game.

The other two play modes - Pound and Moon - are less well known, but equally enjoyable. The former is all about shot accuracy as you endeavour to remove marbles from the middle of the bull’s eye playing field whilst keeping your shooter in play.

Moon is the most unusual mode of the trio, featuring a crescent-shaped playing field. Here the objective is to eliminate your own marbles from play before finally aiming for the appropriate glassy orb situated on the one of the moon’s tips.

Taking a shot in Play Marbles couldn’t be easier: tilting the iPhone moves your shooter around the outside of the playing field. Once you’re happy with the location, you can adjust your aim further using onscreen camera controls.

A quick flick of your digit and the shooter is hurled forward. The angle and pace of your marble is affected by the manner in which you slide your finger across the screen: the quicker your movement, the faster the resultant flick will be.

The single play game comes bedecked with a variety of modes including Quick Match, League, Tournament and Career. While these will keep you enthralled for a short time, the CPU opponents don’t really offer a stern enough challenge to present long-term satisfaction.

Part of this is down to the fact that it’s always down to you to take the opening shot. This puts you at an unfair advantage and therefore makes it easy to seize an early lead with a devastating opening flick.

To truly unlock the game's potential, you have to engage Pass and Play and Network multiplayer modes. While the latter tingles with the promise of online competition, unfortunately it’s local only. Even without online play, the human element excites things.

It also helps enhance the customisation aspect, which takes the form of various unlockable marble sets. You can even create your own by attaching photos stored on your handset.

While purists may argue that it’s impossible to replicate the feel of a game of marbles in digital form, Eclipse Interactive has done a stellar job of capturing the atmosphere, good-natured rivalry of the real thing, making Play Marbles a thoroughly agreeable experience.

Play Marbles

Play Marbles is a successful mixture of old-fashioned entertainment and modern technology that is instinctively playable and incredibly addictive
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.