Marble Blast Ultra is an Xbox Live Arcade platformer from Garage Games. You can buy it for 800 Marketplace points, ($10) but Marble Blast’s bland graphics and frustrating controls make this a pass for nearly every Xbox 360 owner.

In Marble Blast Ultra, you are a marble [No Brainer -Ed]. You roll around various dangerous environments to collect gems and then to reach the end point to move on to the next level. Marble Blast features sixty different levels: Twenty beginner courses, twenty intermediate courses and twenty advanced courses. Normal players should be able to blast through the beginner courses, and then most of the intermediate courses. After that the game can get really tough for some players, as the obstacles can be a little daunting.

The advanced courses can be so difficult in a “cheap” and contrived way, that if it wasn’t for me being an achievement point addict, I wouldn’t have even bothered to try and squeeze out every bit of value I could for my ten bucks. The game at the advanced levels can really come down to luck more than skill, and that just doesn’t make the game very addictive or compelling.

Another thing that really disappoints in Marble Blast Ultra is in the visual and the sound department. The visuals look fine for an Arcade title, but you see the same thing over and over again – becoming extremely bland after seeing the same thing throughout the whole game. The same problem plagues the sound. You will just have the same techno song looping in the background for the whole game, and eventually it will have you reaching for the remote to mute your television.

The controls in the game tend to get really frustrating. The controls don’t feel tight and responsive and the camera can get a bit jerky in spots, causing you to fall off the edge and have to go back to the beginning or back to a checkpoint. It seems like all of the timing just seems a bit off.

There are three different gems that are put on the map: Red, yellow and blue, which represent one, two and five points respectively. The multiplayer is probably the best part of this game. It combines simple fun and “pick-up-and-playability” very well.

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