GBA REVIEW: MARBLE MADNESS / KLAX

The term "classic" as applied to videogames is as overused as "comic genius" is used to describe any person that is able to make the mainstream chortle for a short duration. I know some people that call every old videogame a classic whether it's good or not. I use the term as it was intended to be used. For me to consider a game a classic it has to be at least 25-years old and it certainly must have had to have been a good game during its prime. Marble Madness and Klaz aren't old enough to fit my definition of true classics but both were pretty good games. But that was then and this is now and I can tell you with certainty that one of these games is not the same as it once was.

Marble Madness is an awful port. I don't even know where to begin. If this was the first game that was ever created for the GBA I would have thrown both against a brick wall in a mature display of displeasure. Action speaks louder than words after all, and I would have also made sure that it wasn't my GBA. No wonder I don't have any friends.

Marble Madness has clearly lost its marble. The damn thing doesn't even roll. It floats along the environment. The animation is terrible and the physics is so stiff that it makes you feel like you're moving a hockey puck along an ice ridge. There is no feeling of smoothness in either the graphics or the control system.

As if Marble Madness wasn't half-assed enough, it only contains three levels instead of the six original levels. So it's a half-assed version of half a game. Considering how bad the game is maybe that's a blessing in disguise. I wouldn't want to play any more than three levels. And should I even bother to mention that there isn't a two-player mode? Another feature cut in half. Marble Madness may have lost its marbleness, but it's left me mad.

On the other hand, Klax is an excellent port and almost worth the price of admission alone. From the graphics to the gameplay and all points in between there's nothing to want from Klax except perhaps the ability to retain the high score. For those of you unfamiliar with Klax it's similar in execution to Tetris. Colored tiles roll down a ramp giving you just enough time to identify the colors and where you should place them in the bin below. Linking similar colored tiles causes them to disappear. If you manage to form three or more combinations you will increase your score exponentially.

The gameplay of Klax is fun and intense. The more you play the better you get. It's very addicting. The controls are perfect and the colors are vibrant and easy to gauge. The music and sound effects are the same as the original.

I find it very strange that one game is so good and the other one so bad. Perhaps the title of this duo should have been re-titled Jekyll and Hyde. It's like the developers just gave up on Marble Madness halfway through the development process. I advise you to go one better and give up on it entirely. Rent this game but do it for Klax. Don't even bother playing Marble Madness least you be tempted to slam your GBA against a brick wall.

System: GBA
Dev: Frame Studios
Pub: Destination
Released: Aug 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
2.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
3.0