The Marbians Touch Down on iOS

With pool-like trick shots and physics-based puzzle mechanics, The Marbians is a new game for the iPhone and iPad that takes a few familiar elements and melds them into a completely different game. The game comes from Nordisk Film Games Publishing, and it landed at #61 on iPad shortly after its release last week.

The game challenges players to negotiate momentum and angles in a series of levels as they push aliens encased in glass marbles toward a tiny UFO. Marbians is controlled through finger swipes and viewed from a top-down perspective. Players touch the Marbian marble and control velocity and angle based on the direction and length of their swipe. Once launched, the Marbian will bounce off of walls and miscellaneous stored objects (pencils, blocks, matchboxes, etc.). The idea is to ricochet the Marbian so that it hits its UFO in one shot. Level difficulty is determined by where within the level the UFO is placed and by the secondary objective of collecting up to three floating moon rocks also placed in the level. Play ends when the Marbians reach the UFO or when all Marbians have been launched an ceased to move.

Later levels add more complexity to the puzzle with new obstacles. Some examples include switches that must be hit to open new pathways, extra Marbians to bounce off of, spinning and moving platforms, and even some sort of black hole deathtrap. The moon rock collection also extends gameplay, as a certain number of moon rocks are needed to progress to new levels. Each rock significantly boosts the player’s score, which is reflected on global and friend leaderboards powered by Apple’s Game Center. As of press time, the only way to view the leaderboards is by completing a level.

The Marbians is a challenging game, but it comes off as visually bland in the early levels where there are no moving objects. It’s sort of like a pinball game without the glitz. The challenging aspect itself may also do Marbians no favors as Nordisk’s primary audience appears to be casual gamers. Other titles on mobile platforms with similar gameplay appeal to this audience (and even monetize it) by offering unlockable hints to players. Marbians has no such system and so it’s easy for a player to become stuck and ultimately frustrated.

As for how Marbians does monetize, the game is free-to-download with a $1.99 in-app purchase to unlock the full game. There are only a few trial levels availalbe at the free level, and as previously mentioned, these are not the strongest visual representations of the game’s quality.

Those interested in the progress of The Marbians on iOS can track its position in App Store rankings on our traffic tracking service, AppData.