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Virtual Marbles

Published by ICON Games
Price $19.50
Primary Genre Secondary Genre

Virtual Marbles. I remember thinking to myself upon choosing to review this game- "Ah, another Marble Game (*YAWN*)" You see, reviewing games is a bit like going on a blind date- all you start with is a name, and you struggle to stuff down any preconceived notions you might have about the name. Irregardless, during the date you find you realize one of three outcomes will occur. One, while the person is interesting, you know the date will lead you nowhere. Two, the two of you are thoroughly engaged with each-other and you know you'll be "Good Friends". And Three, on rare occasions, you fall madly Head-over-Heels in Love (*SIGH*). ICON Games has provided me with the opportunity to experience a true gem- Virtual Marbles, and fall (*SIGH*) in love with it!

Watch out for Rover's water bowl. Don't kick sand in my face!

So, it's a game of Marbles- right? You bet! Virtual Marbles offers a feast for the eyes and offers solo and multi-player mode as well as 5 Stages/Locations where you can stage a match. You may not know a thing about the game of Marbles, but in no time at all, you'll be ready to knuckle-down and flick your Aggie Taw at a bakers dozen of Kimmies!

Each of the 5 locations the player can choose to play at within the game are fully realized and lush. One location is indoors, the remaining are all outdoors and all are experienced from slightly above the height of a marble. With this in mind, you'll find yourself shooting from under a bed and from inside of a Dog-House, just to name a few interesting places. All of the outdoor locations are bathed in sunlight and objects cast a shadow. One of the locations, the favela (sort of an alley), allows brief glimpses over a curb where you'll see a lush green rain-forest and mountain- this background is rendered so well that I wanted to jump over the curb and run off into the forest.

Raining outside? Then play indoors!

You'll likely not get too distracted by the backgrounds since the play-field has so much to offer visually. Each player has their own unique marble to shoot with. As a human player you can choose from a selection of 30 marbles- from colored glass to a Tiger's Eye- not a single one of them are just colored balls, rather, they are rendered so well they look like the real thing!

Now, I love a good game of marbles as much as the next person and can keep myself engaged through something I enjoy easily. However, I found a real treat in this particular game- each location you can play in has its own unique music. And no quick midi work here, rather several selections ranging from techno to percussive fun. Not one of the selections was intrusive, but rather were well-paced and well-suited to the speed of a game of marbles.

Make no mistake, Virtual Marbles is a fun and engaging game. Whether you're in a competitive mode or not, you'll find yourself searching out all of the best angles in which to launch your shooter in order to hit the maximum number of marbles. Combine this challenging aspect with the luxurious graphics and sound- well, you'll be addicted as I was in no time at all.

As mentioned, while playing you will have 5 locations to choose from. Add to these locations three modes of play; Deathmatch, Circles, and Hole. Without going into details, each mode of play has its unique challenges that make game-play fun. If you are clueless (like I was) as to how to play these three games, a tutorial mode is provided. Next, you can play solo or with up to 4 players, Human or computer AI. All alone but looking for competition? Problem solved- games with other people can be played locally or via the Internet. For those that would like a long and engrossing game, well, your play-field can be stocked with anywhere from 15 to 50 marbles. Virtual Marbles is a game that I found to have a surprising longevity- this is a game I've come back to and will continue to play for a long time to come.

ICON games put a great deal of effort into a simple concept and making that concept into something much larger. I've come across marble games in the past, but not one that focuses on traditional play- and maybe that is what ultimately made this game so enjoyable to me. There is nothing about this game that is too difficult or intimidating, and the game of mables is treated with both elegance and style. Virtual Marbles can be shared with family, friends, or not at all- a short solo game while keyboarding is a wonderful stress reliever. It is a rare day indeed when I am willing to make the following statement: I like everything about this game!

Graphics 95%
Sound 95%
Playability 100%
Longevity 100%
Overall Score 98%
Gold Star

Published on 02 Jun 2006
Reviewed by David Simpkins

Keywords: virtual marbles review, icon games reviews, icon games games, virtual marbles scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.