Marble Merge Review

It doesn’t take but a few minutes of browsing through the App Store in iTunes to see that there is a glut of ‘Tetris’ inspired games for iOS. Most of these releases garner little notice, and much of the time it’s understandable as too many of them are derivative and are poorly executed. Thankfully Superstar Games has delivered a game that bucks this trend.

Drawing inspiration from the likes of ‘Tetris’ and ‘Dr. Mario’, ‘Marble Merge’ has many of the same attributes of its predecessors. Randomly colored pieces (marbles) fall from the top of the screen in pairs. You determine their orientation and placement before they reach the bottom. Your goal is familiar, keep the clutter down and don’t let the marble stack up too high. Thankfully, the similarities to the aforementioned titles pretty much end there. Instead of the marbles lying in a predetermined grid, the exact placement of the marbles is entirely up to you. The goal isn’t to line up rows of like colors to clear them out; rather the task is to the merge the marbles into other marbles of the same color. Each time marbles are merged with one another, the size of the combined marble increases. After merging five or more marbles together, the combined giant marble will burst. Since the marbles themselves are governed by pretty sophisticated physics model, the surrounding marbles will roll in to fill the gap left in the gap. This concept of working with piles of round objects is a wonderful departure from what I’m used to seeing.

Due to the existence of a physics model and its influence on the growing piles, the developer smartly added a “shake” feature that you earn as you explode chains of marbles. This allows you to literally shake the iPod to help mix up a few of the marbles on the top of the pile for those times when you don’t have any available color matches. This plays to the strengths of the platform, but at the same time, it’s also not a requirement so you don’t need to worry about looking foolish on the tram.

To keep things interesting, there are also a handful of special objects to either help or hinder your quest to merge and clear. There is a grey marble that cannot be merged but serves to separate some potential merges. There is the spikey marble that’s good for clearing out anything it touches. Then there is the Shrinker Marble. It will shrink an expanded marble down to its original size which can be good if you are trying to get to a certain marble that being blocked, but a lot of times I find that it just sets me back.

There are two main levels of difficulty allowing the game to have broad appeal. My personal favorite is the Survival mode as the game continues without a predetermined number of rounds. To sweeten the deal, there are also three additional mini games included that by all accounts could have been released on their own by a lesser developer.

When I began playing Marble Merge I was playing on a Second Generation iPod Touch, after upgrading to a Retina Display equipped Forth Generation, I’m hoping that we’ll see a Mable Merge update to sharpen things up a bit. With that said, this did release over a year ago so I’m being a little bit greedy. Perhaps an HD sequel is in the future? It’s just a thought.

I strongly recommend Mable Merge to anyone ages six and up.

Rated 4+

Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch (Reviewed), and iPad. Requires iOS 2.0 or later

Purchase Marble Merge here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marble-merge/id335638102?mt=8
Get the Free Lite Version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/marble-merge-lite/id354948648?mt=8

Contest Details: Register for a free account here on 6nUp.com. The link is locate at the top of page. Be sure to create a full profile with a legit email so we can email your prize if you should win. Then simply answer the following question. How many marbles need to be merged together before they will burst? (Hint: the answer is found in the review!)

The first few people to answer correctly will win. Good luck!

About Michael "Tebroc" Corbett

According to Mike's memory banks, his first experience with video games happened in 1981 on his brother Jim's Atari VCS - CX2600. (Mike is unsure of whether or not it was a Sunnyvale Edition.) Asteroids and Defender were his favorite games. Fast-forward 20 some years and he has gone on to save the princess but not any money. He never learned to read but now writes articles using speech-to-text technology. Awesome.