Marble Madness for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) – Classic Video Games
Marble Madness was originally an Atari arcade game that came out in 1984, and its popularity caused it to be ported to all the home gaming consoles and computers of the day. In 1989, it was ported to the NES console for home play. I remember there being a lot of hype and TV commercials for the game. To be honest, it did look really cool.
The concept for the game is fresh: Maneuver a rolling marble through a bunch of 3-dimensional mazes towards the finish line as it rolls downward. There was nothing else like it.
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The Designer Tried Really Hard With This Game. Well... Try Harder, Dude.
A lot of thought was put into the design of the game. You have to remember, 3d stuff was a new realm of design at the time during the early 1980s. This game was quite revolutionary, and the creator, Mark Cerny, had to work his butt off to solve all sorts of design issues. At the time, it was considered to be a pretty tough game to beat in the arcade. This may have had to do with the fact that the arcade cabinet had a trackball instead of a joystick.
The NES port is faithful enough, and it is quite playable in its own right. It does take some getting used to, because this game is so very unique. So, awesome 3d design, a revolutionary new concept, good difficulty – where could you go wrong in all of this? Cerny even studied various artists like M.C. Escher while creating the concepts for his level designs. Sounds like the makings for a stellar game masterwork to me.
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One Fatal Flaw - Someone Was on Drugs When They Decided the Game Was Complete
There was one fatal flaw: The game was way, way too short. It was borderline ridiculously, pathetically short. You would think Cerny would have made the game longer than it was. Players can finish off the arcade and NES versions in less than 3 minutes. 3 minutes! How many other games do you know of that you can beat in 3 minutes? Well, there are a few. Dark Castle comes to mind.
Marble Madness on the NES contains six levels, or mazes. The arcade version has the same amount, so don't think that the number was somehow limited. That means that you can beat each level in about 30 seconds. And it’s not as though you have to hurry to do it in that amount of time – the marble rolls at a fairly uniform pace. This game must have literally gobbled up quarters for those suckered into trying to beat it. I mean they did say it was challenging. Imagine putting in another quarter every minute. Suckers.
Here's the Entire Game. No Joke.
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Minutes of Fun. Literally... Minutes of Fun.
If you set aside the fact that the game is ridiculously short, it’s actually a pretty good game. The criminally short length makes it suck no matter how you toss the dice. For $50 – the price of a standard NES game back then – this was robbery. I pity the kids that bought this only to find out that it became boring after the first day of play. You could just breeze through it and beat it every time, eventually.
Just when you're laughing and having a good time and thinking, "I'm so glad I bought this game," it ends. As in, Game over. You're done. Goodbye. Thanks for your money, sucker. Have a nice life, loser.
Criminal. Just Criminal.
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