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Review by: Shawn Quigley
Published: April 29, 1997
If you can remember ever being mesmerized by those giant contraptions in the mall that consisted of marbles rolling around different paths, clicking and clanking along the way, then you will love what Maxis has created in their latest puzzle game, Marble Drop. The object of the game is simple. You need to get the right colored marbles lined up in holding bins at the bottom of the puzzle by dropping marbles down the right chutes. If a marble rolls onto a slot that it does not match, it is destroyed. You only have a certain number of marbles to play with, so wasting them is not a good option.
The manual comes with a story of how the whole thing began. It all begins in Rome at the Vatican Museum, where a set of papers were uncovered inside a chest. These papers represented some strange plans for the multi-part perpetual-motion-powered puzzles that await you in Marble Drop. The plans date back to April 1, 1503 and are rumored to be drawn up by Leonardo da Vinci. Whether this story is true or not is yet to be determined, but nonetheless gives an interesting setting for the game.
Marble Drop automatically installed itself when I put the CD-ROM in so it was easy to get the game up and going. When the game begins for the first time, you are presented with the first of 50 puzzles. The first puzzle is entitled “Thales of Miletus” and was rather simple to solve after understanding the basic principles of the game. Gameplay is completely mouse driven, making it simple and easy to learn. All you have to do is grab, drag and drop the marbles down the chutes.
The backgrounds behind each puzzle represent the blueprints for each one. There are different inscriptions written on them that give you hints to different aspects of the puzzle. Some of the writings on the blueprints describe different apparatuses in the mechanism and some tell of how to gain bonus points.
What makes Marble Drop a challenging puzzle game is the different mechanisms that change and move for each marble dropped. If a marble rolls into a placement that it is not supposed to be in, it is destroyed. When the game begins, you are given a certain number of each colored marble. You can purchase more of each color as the game progresses for points. Other than the colored marbles, there is also a steel marble that can be used to explore the puzzle without the risk of losing one of the colored ones. Since the steel ones cost 100 points and the colored ones cost 500 points, it is a wise choice.
With enough challenges and a wide variety of puzzles, Marble Drop is definitely a fun game to play. There are only a few puzzles games that have hit the shelves that can offer enough entertainment and draw to keep a player coming back for more. Marble Drop is one of those games.
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