Marbles, as I recall from my distant youth, is a game in which the chief advantage is simplicity (not to mention the chance to win loads of pretty glass balls). Marblelous II on the other hand, is really difficult and nasty, even if it looks very simple. Besides, it’s a one player only game, so you can’t win marbles or anything else from your friends.
The idea of Marblelous II is to guide a marble to an exit by giving it directions. It would be silly to tell a marble to take the second left after the railway station, so you use the mouse to put little arrows in the marble’s path.
Hold down the left mouse button, move the mouse in the direction you want the arrow to point and release. A left-click on its own will give you a no-entry sign. If you make a mistake you can right-click to undo an action. The no-entry sign will make your marble pause, but not for long. The marble has an energy bar, and once it’s depleted the marble will no longer be able to wait at no-entry signs.
This is all fairly simple, and the first few levels aren’t too difficult. But then you find you have to collect objects before you can get through the exit – no problem, makes life more interesting. Then there’s a level where there are already arrows on the floor, and the marble will always follow these arrows, no matter what. Luckily there are gaps In these indelible arrows, you have to work out which routes to send your marble on. Fair enough, that’s what puzzle games are all about, right? Besides, you can pause the game and sit and think for a while, so that’s okay.
Then you get to level six. Oh, that horrid nasty little level six. The name of the level is ‘All you need is luck’. That’s because you have no way of actually controlling what happens in this level (as far as I can work out).
There’s an enemy marble moving about that won’t respond to any directions you try to give it, and even if it did, you’re limited to putting down just one arrow The nasty marble goes into one of four teleports and re-appears randomly somewhere else on the screen. If it crashes into your marble, you’ve lost a life. This is horribly frustrating.
There's a nasty marble on level six that uses the teleports to reappear randomly on the screen and if it hits your marble you lose a life
Sometimes you can make it through the level the first time, sometimes you lose three or four lives through no fault of your own. No fair! Teleports in this game are like that, it’s impossible tow ork out where your ball (or the nasty one) is going to end up. Given the fact that you only get a password on the completion of every fifth level, you might imagine how frustrating this gets.
However, if you like a challenge you will like this game. Sometimes you can have three marbles to control at the same time, and you have to be very fast. Sometimes you simply have to plan ahead, and sometimes, as I’ve discussed, you have to be plain lucky.
Some of the icons you can pick up are quite interesting – there’s one that gives your marble armour so you can blow up mines as well as speed-ups and extra lives. There are over a hundred levels, so you’ll have to be a determined player to get to the end of this game.