Video games: Marble mayhem and a Star Trek mashup

Marble It Up: Mayhem! rolls to a jarring halt. Star Trek Legends offers plenty of action and opportunity

video game
Half of this game is a lot of fun. The other half? Not so much

Marble It Up: Mayhem!
Developer: The Marble Collective
Publisher: Alvios, Inc., Marble It Up, LLC

Sam StewartYou’re a marble.

Maybe you were rolled upon by a radioactive marble. Maybe you’re from a world of sentient marbles. Or maybe you’re just a very rich human, disguised as a marble to save us all from a boring, flat world.

Your origin isn’t important. It’s not why you’re here. The only important thing is that you must go forward. Let’s roll.

In the awkwardly (and badly) titled Marble It Up: Mayhem!, you’re a marble and your goal is to roll your way to the end of each course. As usual in a game like this, the real challenge is finishing in a time that earns you the flashiest trophy.

The marble itself has a good sense of momentum, and the more you make skilful use of the corners and curbs around the track, the more successful you’ll be.

The game is at its best when you’re flying through courses in a blazing, controlled dash, barely escaping plummets off the edge into oblivion. This was exhilarating and a lot of fun.

The game is at its worst when it slows you down, often to a complete stop, and forces you through platforming sections. This happens a lot, in fact making up major portions of Marble It Up: Mayhem.

Why the developers would choose to rob you of what you instinctively want to do as a marble – and what’s most fun about the game – is beyond me. It’s jarring to go from a level where you’re zipping around to a level where you have to wait for an elevator. At worst, it’s frustrating and boring – and ultimately made me stop playing.

Half of this game is a lot of fun. The other half made me want to crush that marble into a countertop. That’s how that works, right?

Rating: Nay

video game
Albeit a silly premise, there is some basic and satisfying gameplay

 

Star Trek Legends
Developer/Producer: Tilting Point LLC

Star Trek Legends represents a hurdle for me. It’s built on an infrastructure of pay-as-you-play gaming. It’s a model made to market ‘free’ games in which you later make in-game purchases. Even though this concept has been around for years, I’ve never been able to embrace it.

A big selling point of having an Apple Arcade subscription is that you won’t pay any extra costs for – or in – any of the games.

Legends presents you with the extra optional currencies that – according to this model – you’d normally have to dish out some coin for. But here, the only way to get this currency is to continue playing. So we have a seemingly pay-as-you-play game that doesn’t require paying.

Needless to say, I was skeptical.

It turns out that the mechanics of the pay model aren’t truly what I have issues with. Just the actual act of paying money. And who wants to do that?

The conceit of Star Trek Legends is that you’ve found yourself in the Nexus, a place where time collides. This means that you’re going to bump into characters from all over the Trek canon. Within my first couple of missions, I had Worf and Dr. Leonard McCoy on my team, blasting hostile aliens side by side.

This was a lot of fun in and of itself. And atop this entertaining, albeit silly, premise is some basic and satisfying gameplay.

Before each mission, you’re tasked with assembling your squad. Each team member has unique skills they can use in combat. Through progression and experience, you can beef up these skills. It’s a solid and simple system.

Having a  varied crew not only gives you different combat mechanics, but it also offers choice in terms of the route you take and rewards received. For example, at one point, Worf wanted to blast through a door, phasers blazing, while Michael Burnham wanted to hack the way through, remaining undetected. I opted to hack and my reward was that my team had increased defence capabilities during that mission.

Moments like this made me want to make sure I had a well-rounded team for each mission.

Despite myself, I enjoyed Star Trek Legends and will likely keep playing, if only on a casual basis. Worf blasting away at evil aliens alongside a borg doesn’t get old for me.

Beam me up, Scotty!

Rating: Play

Sam Stewart has a diploma in theatre studies, a degree in film studies and has worked professionally in both areas. He also worked in the tech industry and loves to indulge his lifelong passion for video games, from the classics to new releases.


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