Date: Sun, 10-Feb-85 16:29:38 EST
Posted: Sun Feb 10 16:29:38 1985
Date-Received: Mon, 11-Feb-85 07:22:16 EST
Reply-To: ee163ahj@sdcc13.UUCP (Paul van de Graaf)
Organization: U.C. San Diego, Academic Computer Center
Keywords: marble, madness, games
Summary: This game's a lot of fun... excellent graphics and music.
Wow, you have to be quick on the draw these days! I was just about to
write an article about this wild new game, but was beaten to the punch. I
spent several hours playing this game yesterday, and I must say it is outstand-
ing. The subtle shading of the graphics makes it the best "3D" game I've seen
to date. The graphics are similar to _Crystal Towers_, but the designers must
have spent lots of time fine-tuning the shading to make it look more realistic.
Unlike _Crystal Towers_, the screen in this game fine-scrolls to follow the
action of the game down the "hill" to the finish-line of each race.
[The name might be _Crystal Palaces_ or some such, I never liked the game.]
The game is also a treat to the ears as well. Each race has an
original piece of music to accompany it. I love the way the themes fit the
mood of each track. The easy race has a theme that suggests fluid motion,
while the intermediate race has a theme full of dischord and turmoil, reflecting
what's happening on the screen. I hope more games follow this example; I'm
tired of the trite "fanfare" music of the old games. Instead of using a couple
square-wave generators programmed by some software hack, this game uses what
sounds like stereo digital synthesis similar to the EMU synthesizer programmed
by * real * musician. Could this be the sounds of the rumored 16 voice chip
that Tramial is supposed to be putting in his new computers? I know this game
is made by Atari Games, which is still owned by Warner, but who knows how much
technology was transferred to Tramial in his leveraged buy-out?
------------------------What's beyond the acid blobs?-------------------------
Most of this is from watching the resident expert, some is my own experience:
Some sort of waves that appear in a green surface, the shading on these is done
very well. I can't really do justice to them in words. To get past these, you
have to wait for a wave to move past you, and then make a break for it in front
of the wave making sure you stay ahead of the wave so it doesn't knock you over
the side. A tricky turn where you have stop in the middle of a hill, is the
only other thing between the waves and the goal for this track.
Next comes the Aerial Race:
In this race, you fly through the air and have to stop without falling off the
edge. You then pass some vaccumn cleaner thingies that try to suck you off the
track. If you keep your distance from these, you'll be O.K. A couple of tricky
turns after these puts you at a catapult that throws your marble across the
screen right next to one of those bothersome black balls. Now I know what it
means to be black-balled :-). If you can avoid your dark companion, you continue
past some posts that pop up out of the floor at random. These can hurl you to
your demise if you're on top of one when it pops up, or just block you. A
jump over a ramp puts you at what I think is the hardest part of the game. You
are on a narrow ledge and these sort of fingers come out of the floor and try to
push you off. It takes very good timing to get past these. There seems to be
some pattern to the order in which they appear, but it's very tricky. I haven't
gotten past them yet. Once you get past them, though, it's smooth rolling to
The next track is called something like the Crazy Race:
In this one, everything is the opposite of what is was before: it's hard to roll
downhill, but easy to roll uphill; you can kill the black balls, slinkies, and
acid blobs; you race uphill instead of downhill, and the tubes work in reverse.
The only new hazard are birds that can fly into you near the end of this one.
It looks pretty easy; I wish I could give this level a try.
The last track I've seen is called the Ulimate Race:
This race looks almost impossible. In it you have many different types of
surfaces that you have to negotiate. First blue ice, which make you lose all
control. It just turns your trac-ball off. Yellow floors make it difficult to
control by making all your moves exaggerated. Wavy floors make your marble jump
up and down as if there is an earthquake. When you get to the end, the path to
the finish dematerializes in sections. It takes extremely careful timing to
negotiate this path without having the floor drop out from under you several
times. The path is made up of all kinds of different surfaces making the task
even more difficult. The resident expert at my arcade has been inches away
from the finish for this track many times, but he always runs out of time before
he finishes. I'm sure the next track is even wilder.
Some hints on play:
Play this game with a partner. The winner of a each race gets 5 bonus seconds.
These really add up if you play with a guy who never wins. On the minus side,
the game subtracts 5 seconds from the player who gets a full screen behind his
partner and places his marble near the end of the screen. This can really hurt
a bad player's game, making it a lot shorter than if he ran it alone. If you
really want to be fair, play the game as a two-player game, but only control
one player. This way you'll always win, and you won't have to screw-up a
Another problem is that players who are very close in playing ability tend to
get in each others way, sometimes knocking them both off the brink. Cooperation
is needed to keep the game civil. Make sure you don't get in each other's way
by deciding which part of the course each player is going to take. Waiting up
for a player who is just about to lose 5 seconds is considered courteous. Don't
turn the game into a brawl just because of an accidental clash. I've seen a lot
of people mess up a perfectly good game, because they wanted "revenge".
I'm glad to see the group is waking up again, I guess video is not dead yet!
Paul van de Graaf sdcsvax!sdcc13!ee163ahj U. C. San Diego