We lost a significant proportion of our twenties playing Puzzle Quest on the Xbox 360. Yet, all it did was take an established game – in its case the match-3 puzzler – and bolt on all the trappings of an RPG: combat, a storyline, a world to travel through, and a sense of progression. Wise to how successful this has been for the various Puzzle Quests, HeroCraft, a Russian development studio, have looked to do the same, but this time with ‘marble-matching’ games like Sparkle Unleashed and Azkend 2. Marble Duel is out now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
You may not have played a marble-matcher before, but they’re remarkably simple, and not too far removed from traditional match-3 games like Bejewelled. A long track of marbles wends itself across the game screen. They’re multiple colours, and you have a marble launcher, most often at the bottom or middle of the screen. You aim your marble launcher at the track of marbles, the track of marbles shunts apart to make way for it, and any 3+ matches disappear. More often than not, it sets off a chain reaction, as the track of marbles crunches down to fill the gap you made. Voila! Marble-matching.
In Marble Duel’s case, this is extrapolated out to become a full-blown RPG. You play a girl called Evy, who seems to have become lost, Alice in Wonderland-style, in a magical world. Using your astonishing powers of marble-propulsion, you take on werewolves, robots, scarecrows and more in an effort to reach the supreme witch who’s invading the world (and can no doubt ship you home).
For a budget title at only £8.39, Marble Duel actually seems like stonking value for money. There’s 150 levels here, which is about 6p a level by our strained maths, and there’s more longevity than we expected thanks to a levelling system for your character, and various upgrades. It doesn’t look shoddy, either, with the game screens in particular looking chunky and tactile.
It’ll be curious to see how much ‘RPG’ bleeds into Marble Duel. How much of this magical world really comes through? Do your combatants really change much from one another? Is there anything you’d classify as a story? These are the things that made Puzzle Quest a must-play, and the jury’s out for Marble Duel. While the map screen looks like a fantasy take on Candy Crush, we are reliably informed that your character ages and develops based on your ability. It could really go either way. All that said, our full review of Marble Duel on Xbox is here to let you know the finer details.
Marble Duel is out now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and starts at £8.39 from the Xbox Store. It’s also out on PS4, PS5 and PC via Steam.
Magic duels are the way to solve any dispute in a kingdom conquered by the cruel witch and her minions. Every monster you encounter will challenge you, but the power of spells will help you destroy the enemy. Master and improve the destructive power of the spheres and you will become the most fearsome mage ever! Now is not the time for mercy. It’s time to eradicate the evil! Win duels Master the ancient power of magic spheres! Develop your hero Level your mage up to Legendary! Upgrade your spells Improve your magic skills from duel to duel! Meet extraordinary characters Be prepared to find very unusual allies.