There's a lot of variety and challenge within its stages, and players can even create their own if they don't find what they're looking for in the preset levels. Read on after the break for our impressions on the title, including impressions on the Balance Board support and level creator.
The objective of Marble Saga is to guide a ball to the end of a stage without it falling off the play area. The gameplay may sound straightforward as you're trying to get from point A to point B; however getting there is actually much more complicated. Stages are comprised of 3D platforms that have to be tilted and turned with the Wiimote. There are pits, drops, conveyor belts, magnets and other platform types or obstacles that'll impede the journey. To get through these areas, players will need to keep a steady hand with the Wiimote.
Buttons are not used at all during stage gameplay and everything is handled through the Wii's motion controls. The Wiimote can be held in two ways: horizontally with two hands, as if playing NES classics or vertically, as in the case of most Wii games. We found the horizontal play-style to be much more comfortable than the vertical as it's easier to maneuver. The vertical position basically leaves you only with the flexibility of your wrist.
The Balance Board is a significantly different control scheme altogether. There are 30 levels in the game that are specifically designed for play with the Balance Board. Leaning forward, backwards or to the sides will cause the game stage to tilt. The control response is pretty good, even if it feels a little awkward at first. Choosing the right marble to use in these stages will be more crucial than in the regular modes as applying more tilt using the balance board is a lot more difficult over the Wiimote.
Speaking of marbles, marble composition also affects the gameplay. There are differently-shaped marbles from blocky and irregular to round and smooth. Weight also plays a factor; heavier ones require more tilt to move, but they will also stop quicker than others. Certain marbles will fit better situations.
Finally, we want to discuss the level creator. There are three difficulty settings to the creator: beginner, intermediate and expert. Each setting adds a relative degree of complexity upon the creation tools. Unfortunately for us, we could only get into the expert mode and, as one can imagine, we were overwhelmed by the amount of options available. You can edit the shape and size of 3D platforms and then add obstacles, walls and goal points to make a personalized stage. We made a very simple stage (not going too far into the tools) using a bunch of squares to form a set of stairs.
There are 60 slots for user-created levels -- 20 of which are your own saved creations, while another 20 are set aside for levels that can be sent to you by friends. The last 20 is reserved for free downloadable levels Hudson plans on releasing alongside the launch date.
Speaking of release dates, the game is expected to come out next month on the 17th. If you've got nothing else to play, Marble Saga makes a pretty good distraction to fill up the void. Its gameplay is fun and easy to jump right into. It's also pretty cheap; it's only going for 30 bucks.