So many of us still mourn the delisting of Marble Blast Ultra. It was one of the classic greats of Xbox Live Arcade, and still has no equal in its genre. Those who missed out may never know the joy of the marble genre. There’s something about feeling the weight of the marble in your thumbstick while trying to navigate stupidly hard (read: extremely hard) levels.
The Super Monkey Ball series is a different spin on the same idea. Instead of controlling the marble (in this case a monkey inside a clear ball) players have control of the game world. The left thumbstick tilts the world in a given direction, then gravity does the rest. Super Monkey Ball Deluxe added several fun minigames such as soccer and bowling. Super Monkey Ball Arcade would take all of those ideas and…well, roll with them.
Rock of Ages was developed by ACE Team and published by Atlus. It retails for 800 MSP. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
Rock of Ages is quite possibly the oddest game we’ve played on XBLA. It is an eclectic mixture of tower defense and Marble Blast Ultra. You travel through different eras of time challenging historical figures to a strange game of protect the castle. You’ll meet daunting characters like Vlad the Impaler that want nothing more than to push your face-of-a-rock off the cliff to weaken its ability to damage his castle gate, all while being treated to a Renaissance style of music that is one of the game’s best features.
Players who are familiar with tower defense games will feel right at home. You place defensive units up and down the narrow path to your castle wall in an attempt to thwart your challenger’s rock from reaching top speed to crash into your castle’s gate. In almost all instances, three consecutive dashes on you or your challenger’s gate will bring it down revealing a paper-like historical figure ready to be run over–so speed as well as proper defense are equally important.
If this setup sounds quirky that’s because it is. Not only is your rock anthropomorphic but it occasionally yells in terror when it falls of a cliff, which will happen often because a finite number of elephants, cows, catapults, towers, explosives and other obstacles will obstruct your path to the castle gate.
With the recent delisting of an Xbox Live Arcade classic some of us are quietly kicking ourselves for not having picked up Marble Blast Ultra for the basement price of 400MSP when we had the chance. So what can those of us who missed out on the game do now? Fret not, friends. Here you’ll find a highlight-based history of marble games and a few alternatives to take for a roll.