Price: FREE
Version: 1.02
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

20130604-153155.jpgMarbly is the new game from Mr. Tetris himself, Alexey Pajitnov, designed specifically for iOS devices. A cross between Quell and Bejewelled, this is a game in which players have to think a few moves ahead if they want to succeed.

The aim is to create a chain of 3 or more same-colored marbles either vertically, horizontally or diagonally, until there are none left remaining. Players simply need to tap a marble of their choice, before tapping their desired location. If it completes a row, the conjoined marbles will disappear, otherwise the marble will come flinging back. If players make a mistake or find themselves in an impossible position (stuck with the dreaded one remaining marble for example), they can either get a hint, undo their last move, restart the level, or tap the ‘solve’ lifeline. Gold coins earned whilst playing can be used to purchase more of these lifelines, and eventually, new level packs.

Unfortunately, once players have used some coins on recharging their lifelines, they will find it nearly impossible to unlock the other level packs without paying for more coins via in-app purchase. 99 cents for 10 coins is pretty expensive when a level pack runs 100 coins. This is a shame because it means skilled players won’t be rewarded for their play, while other players may be discouraged when they run out of coins to pay for lifelines (which, at 10 coins each, are also expensive). The challenge levels are where the big bucks are, if the player can complete them on their first try.

20130604-184621.jpgAlthough WildSnake Software have made a big deal about tailoring Marbly for iOS devices, it won’t be winning any design awards. Simplicity is clearly the name of the game here, but this still looks like something from the pre-smartphone era. The music is certainly no Korobeiniki (the original Tetris tune), either. As if the difficult puzzles weren’t enough, the developer is seemingly trying to drive players insane with the same cutesy tune over and over. Players will be wanting to hit the mute button on this one.

Nevertheless, Marbly is still both challenging and addictive in equal measure, the perfect combination for a good iOS puzzle game. It will keep players coming back for one more go at that level they just can’t figure out. With over 180 levels and daily challenges to boot, there is a lot to keep players entertained/pulling their hair out. It’s a puzzler that brings great satisfaction (air-punching is optional) to those who persevere, though payment may very well be required at some point along the way.

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