Marble It Up! spun onto our Switch screens back in 2018, and the updated Ultra version expands on the kaleidoscopic first release while remaining a joy to play through if you love well-rounded arcade games. It’s part sequel, part update — owners of the original Marble It Up! will be happy to know that they can download Ultra for free, and Ultra fans who want to investigate the original will be able to download that for free as well.
Right off the bat, this game is bright, colorful, and packed full of synth-heavy music. Despite the myriad of neon tones immediately thrown at you, the interface here is clean and simple to navigate, presenting a wide variety of ways to play and a marble-rolling game (a “roll-playing game” according to the PR — c’mon, that’s not bad!) that’s easy to get into.
You get over 100 levels, six worlds, and four bonus worlds. The first level, predictably, starts things off simple, teaching you how to roll through a cheery, psychedelic marble run. The tutorial is split up into various stages in the first world, and they go by quickly. It’s a fairly standard but nice way to show the player a lot of features without it feeling overwhelming.
The feeling of the levels rolling by too quickly is somewhat of a common theme, though. While the game does offer plenty to do, it doesn’t take long to work through each world. The first and second world can be completed in roughly 20 minutes or less, with a sharp difficulty spike appearing around the third.
Despite this, the core gameplay loop is good, simple fun, with plenty of unique elements popping up from level to level, like treasure chests with collectible skins inside, speed boosts, and glowing green wings that make your marble fly. The controls are simple and feel responsive for the most part, with the only complaint being that the jump button can be a little unpredictable in places.
There’s also a great bundle of online multiplayer options, with the ability to play cross-platform, either in quick matches or private rooms. Games are easy to set up, and the cross-platform matches are seamless. (There’s a Weekly Challenge mode, too, although this was inaccessible to us during the review period). You vote for new maps and game modes between each round, and it includes everything from a zombie chase to a gem-collecting mode that feels like the coin-collecting games from the Mario series.
The visuals are fun and lively, and the sound design is great. The marbles sound incredibly realistic and the noise of them on ice is oddly satisfying. While the gameplay loop of this title might not be for everyone, it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a vibrant, snappy game that offers a nice handful of content for both single players and people looking to play with friends. Super Monkey Ball fans will get a kick out of it, too.
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