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Remember marbles? They're back, in a genuinely good PC game

If you've never been excited about marbles, you haven't been playing the right games. The words "Marble Blast Ultra spiritual successor" should warrant at least a Hell Yeah, which is what I said this morning when I got an email about Marble It Up!, which launched today on Steam. It's a game where you roll around as a marble and try to get to the end of an obstacle course as fast as you can. It's basically Momentum: The Videogame.

That may sound boring and simplistic. It is not. The levels I've played so far are all fun and clever, alternating between exercises in sheer speed and precise jumping and pathfinding. The fastest levels are probably the most fun, as you hurl your marble self down a hill and try to thread the hills and valleys of the course that will give you the most speed without rocketing you off the map.

Other stages give you more control over how you make your way to the end of the stage, with branching paths and scattered power-ups that give your marble a super jump, burst of speed, or slow down time to help you beat the clock. And they're pretty much all over in less than two minutes, which has already encouraged me to replay some levels five times to try to get that gold medal.

Marble It Up!'s predecessor, Marble Blast Ultra, was a gem of the early Xbox Live era (it was on PC, too). There have been other games starring marbles since then, but none that feel this good to control or have the bright, slightly sci-fi aesthetic with music that propels you forward. Marble It Up! is a little bit flashier and sharper, but hasn't changed the basic look. It also hasn't messed up the physics of the ball, which is ultimately the most important thing.

Marble It Up! is essentially a puzzle game, but not many puzzle games ask for this kind of dexterity in navigating a 3D space. And in some levels, there are ways to take massive shortcuts by finding the perfect, weird angle to bounce at. Great for speedrunners who want to earn a platinum medal for each level—the game keeps secret exactly how fast you'll have to be to get those.

I hope there are more marble fans out there, because Marble It Up!'s Steam Workshop support means there's potential for an infinite supply of obstacle courses made by the community. I expect most of them to be insane, compared to what the developers have concocted. Bring them on. Marble games are back! Can I get a hell yeah?

Wes Fenlon
When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.