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Review: Switchball

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If you’re an older gamer like myself, then you can remember how awesome Marble Madness was when it first hit the arcades. It was a genre defining game and was a great challenge stuck in the vast sea of 2D shooters and platform games. Last week a nice gem was dropped into my lap via Xbox Live Arcade. This gem is no other than Switchball. I like to call the game Marble Madness 2K7 because frankly, that’s what it is.

Switchball is set in the sky on very technologically rustic tracks.? You must take your switchball through several stages of thought provoking puzzles.? Some are easy and some take a little time.? As you go through each level, the difficulty increases.? The switchball, as it’s so named, can change it’s properties.? If you enter a switch your switchball changes to whatever that switch is.? You can switch to a metal ball when hard and heavy is needed. ? You can switch into an air ball when you need to be lighter.? There’s also a power ball which can be used to dash after it’s been charged.? Part of solving some of the puzzles is being able to discern whether you should switch or not.

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Gameplay is slow for the most part.? The controls are simplistic and only require use of the analog stick.? Throughout the stages you’ll find all kinds of cool things like roller coaster loops, see saws, elevators and even little helicopters that take you to the next level.? Some levels took me close to 20min to finish simply because I couldn’t get the ball across some narrow pathways.? If you fail, you get to start over at your last checkpoint.

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The graphics are simply amazing for an XBLA title.? You can control the camera which will zoom in or out.? You can get a view of the whole level or zoom in right behind the switchball.? Their use of depth of field is amazing on the close up shots. ? The stages really do look beautiful.? There’s Sky World, Ice World, Cave World, Cloud World and Lava World.? Each stage is played in the sky but you can see some beautiful backdrops below.? The lighting in the Cave World is amazing.? It’s dark but lit by the moon.

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I only played a few multiplayer games.? In multiplayer you race to the finish of the level.? First one to complete the level wins.? Problem with games like this is that there aren’t many Switchball players on Live like Halo 3.? You’ll be lucky if you can get a game in.

This is definitely taking the genre that Atari started with Marble Madness years ago to the next level.? Switchball is highly addictive and will keep you playing for hours.? It’s a welcomed gem to an already diverse library of Xbox Live games.

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