There are two ways to fight using marbles. One: You can throw a fistful of the tiny glass orbs at your rival’s face. Not recommended. Two: You can play Marble Duel by HeroCraft. Totally recommended.
True to its name, Marble Duel is a match-three / battle game that utilizes marbles . You know, those little game pieces that nobody’s played with “properly” since the ’50s.
Marble Duel isn’t a traditional marble game, either. There’s no kneeling in the dust, literally or digitally, and flinging shooters. Instead, players make matches of three or more identical marbles (think Zuma or Luxor), which execute different effects according to the marbles’ colors. Matches fuel offensive attacks, as well as defensive moves.
According to Marble Duel’s story, these “magic spheres” are used to settle every dispute in a kingdom that’s been taken over by an evil witch (awfully nice of her to impose a non-violent means of conflict resolution). The game’s heroine is a young orphan who’s pulled into this magical world from our own, and her skill with the magic spheres (that is to say, your skill with the magic spheres) attracts all kinds of undesirables, including werewolves, swamp monsters, and monstrous rabbits that look like Alice in Wonderland’s white bunny gone totally bad.
Like most match-three games, Marble Duel is inherently satisfying to play. Matching up things that look the same appeals to our basest desire for organization, so it’s hard for developers to go wrong with the match-three formula – especially if said formula includes the option to wallop your foes with the power of kindergarten color-matching.
But Marble Duel’s little extras go a long way. Though the game’s basic concept doesn’t change much from level to level, its intensity does change according to how the marbles are set up. Sometimes you and your foe share the same string of marbles, and your survival depends on foiling their matches. Sometimes you each have your own string, which lets you act more strategically. And sometimes a single shared string of marbles has kinks in it that restricts how you and your opponent are able to interact with each other.
Even marble distribution plays a part in how each match progresses. In one round, a foe may have access to marbles capable of building up their defense and healing their wounds. In another round, they may have marbles that boost their attack power and let them go on an all-out offensive.
Marble Duel is free-to-play, and the expected trappings are present. Losses take up lives, which replenish over time, but the game is pretty good about letting you take a big bite out of the experience before subjecting you to battles that truly make you sweat. It’s also worth noting that you’re often put up against different incarnations of the same bad guy for several matches in a row, which admittedly gets a little dull, even if said bad guys do in fact change up their strategy from game to game.
Taken as a whole, though, Marble Duel is an interesting and unique match-three battle game. Few people play marbles traditionally anymore, but there’s still no resisting the glassy “click” of the game’s pieces colliding.