Marbles – they invoke happy memories of whiling away lunchtimes in the playground. Marble Mixer by GameHouse is a fast-paced tabletop game of marbles for 1 to 4 players. There are 3 different games modes: Space Mania, Table Tactics and Monster Picnic, all of which bring a completely different look and game style to the table.
Designed specifically to be played together at a table on one device, up to 4 players can each choose a corner of the iPad corresponding to red, blue, green and purple. To win a game in any mode, a player must win 3 rounds (not just the best of 3).
In Space Mania, players are racing against the clock. In each round you have 60 seconds to get as high a score as possible, whilst doing your best to ruin your opponent’s chances of victory. In the centre of the board there are 3 rings orbiting a black hole: 10, 25 and 50 points respectively. Throughout each round players simultaneously launch an unlimited number of their coloured marbles into the orbiting rings, doing their best to avoid falling into the black hole. Precision and speed is what counts here; the key to winning is getting as many of your marbles as you can to land on scoring rings, and gaining extra points by pushing your opponent’s marbles into the black hole.
Table Tactics works in a similar way to Space Mania in that there are scoring rings (10, 25 and 50 points again) and a hole in the middle. The difference here is that players take it in turns to fire their marbles into the game area, and each player has a limit of 10 marbles per round. Where Space Mania relies on speed and quantity, Table Tactics is all about strategy and timing.
Monster Picnic gives you 60 seconds to feed the rotating “monster” (more like a cute patchwork teddy!) as many of your unlimited marbles as possible. Sounds easy, right? Not so! Unlike the other game modes, it’s really hard to get them into the hungry monster’s mouth. A combination of a tiny mouth (for such a big face!) and constant spinning – which gets faster with each second – makes this the most furious game mode of the three.
This is an excellent example of a simple tabletop game that brings all ages together. Colourful and fun graphics, matching sound effects and a variety of game modes brings this cute little game to life. Fluid, intuitive controls and ease of pick-up-and-play makes this a must-have for marbles fans everywhere. Whilst you can play on iPhone or iPod Touch, I wouldn’t recommend it for more than 2 players; iPad is the perfect size for 2-4 players. If playing with small children, I think it’s best not to enable any AI, as I found it to be pretty tough for a kid-friendly game.
8/10: Marble Mixer is a fun game for all the family; young children will especially enjoy it, but all ages can have a great laugh playing it together on one device. It would be nice to see additional themes and game modes in the future, as this would bring greater replay value to the game.