Marble Trails is one of those games that you’ve probably remembered playing a variation of before but can’t quite put your finger on it. I call it a ‘deja-vu’ game in that spirit (maybe Zuma, Magnetica, Luxor come to mind… or if you’re an old school arcade gamer, you MUST remember Ballistic or Puzz Loop).
It’s a match 3 classic, reliable game… but not much more, which is where it falls short.
Basically, Marble Trails is a variation of bubble-type arcade games. You’re still trying to match 3 of the same color bubbles, but this time it’s in a winding path where you must prevent too many bubbles (or I should say “”marbles””) from accumulating pushing the line of marbes to the hole. The pace of this type of game is traditionally faster than bubble games. Is it worth playing? Find out…
Marble Trails - OVERVIEW
The first level is easy of course as the guiding arrows tell you where to shoot out marbles from your center crab so you can get a feel for the mechanics and speed of the game. Once you clear the level you’ll have the options to share your success on your Facebook profile page. The breakdown at the end of the level gives you running stats on the level (ie. combos, combos in a row, gaps, shots, etc. ). In addition to points, you also earn coins that can be used for powerups and things. You also unlock powerups as you progress through the levels of the game.
The interface makes the game pretty easy to learn. And while the graphics are cartoonish, there’s a nice professional feel to the game and the visuals.
The levels do start to get almost impossibly hard at the end of Stage 2, but you’re proficiency does increase as you play. This is a classic type game where you get what you expect. Besides some minor arcade style shooting during gameplay (at bugs for bonus points) and the boss level at the end of each stage, there’s not much different about this game versus other incarnations. But it’s still addictively fun and all-ages enjoyable.
Marble Trails - STRATEGY
Missing the spot where you want to place your marble creates a few problems: your chain/path gets bigger, moves faster, gets closer to the hole, and now you have misplaced single colors to match two more marbles to in order to eradicate them. If you miss too many times, you’ll simply run out of playing area and options and will lose the level. I find my strategy is to play slower than I’m tempted to in order to ensure accuracing in my aim. Use the aiming guide when the special marble presents itself (ie. burst that one first).
Also, to get better aim even without aiming guide, I place my mouse directily over the spot I want the marble to go to and then move my mouse at the same pace of the chain before I shoot it.
Remember too to try and gain stars by playing effectively in each level and boosting your point totals. You need a minimum cumulative number of stars in order to play the “”Boss Fight”” last level in the stage or the level won’t unlock unless you replay some level games for points.
There are gems and bugs you can hit and collect for extra points. Personally, I find them distracting unless I have a clear shot or nearly cleared the chain.
Coins buy lives and even a chain retraction if you want to salvage a lost level. You can buy coins of course, or you can earn them by playing well and moving up. I like that a lot about this game. Buying coins speeds your progress but playing for ‘free’ doesn’t hinder your playing experience either. And that’s not an easy balance to achieve with a Facebook game.
Marble Trails - TIPS, HINTS & CHEATS
If the crab doesn’t have the right color in the shooter, remember you can always toss it away by hastily shooting through a gap our outside the chain. That way you won’t be adding to your misery by making the chain longer with marble colors you can’t use at the moment.
When you break a chain creating a gap and also freezing the forward chain – try your best to keep clearing the tail end of the chain so that it NEVER catches up to the forward section to push the full chain forward. Take advantage of the “”pause”” in the front by firing out the back end to keep clearing bubbles. When the gaps is still large, you can always quickly through a few marbles into the singles stuck in the front section to make doubles out of singles. That way you’re sort of prepping the front section, so when the rear finally hits it and pushes the full chain forward you can quickly clear out all your 2’s by shooting the right bubble at the right color in the forward section. In essence this tip sets you up to buy some time and prep marbles for quick clearing in the middle of actually clearing tail end marbles.
Because the chain moves fast try to do two things: 1) Break a gap at the closest middle part of the chain to the crab and to the beginning to help your aim accuracy, 2) Aim the marble a little bit a head of where you want it to land to make sure it lines up in sync with the moving chain.
Remember in the Boss Levels (at the end of each stage), your objective is to shoot marbles and hit your boss. The pesky marble chain gets in the way so you’ll have to clear gaps in order to take shots. Worry about the clearing the marbles first. When your gap is wide enough than shoot at the boss. Because there’s no time limit involved, rushing only creates careless errors.
Nuclear bombe (Stage 2) marbles do a great job clearing the board. Just make sure you let the chain grow a lot before popping the bomb (nuclear) marble. I know this is counter-intuitive, but resist the urge so you can max out the marble bursts.
When You’re In A Panic
If the chain is getting away from you and you’re in a panic, aim in the middle and ONLY hit two or more same color marbles to burst them. You’re only choice is to hope for repeated combos to shorten the chain to a more manageable level. I’ve done this before an won the level!
Also, if you’re going to lose try to nail the “”slow down”” marbles (hourglass) to slow and retract the chain.