Video Game: Marble Madness
is a 1984 arcade game by Atari
, created by Mark Cerny. The game is an isometric puzzle game, controlled by a trackball, where you lead the eponymous marble to a goal while dodging obstacles through six courses with artwork inspired by M. C. Escher
. The game also features two-player competitive mode.
Not only was it the first Atari game to use the Atari System 1 hardware and be programmed in the C language, but it was also the first video game to use true stereo sound.
Surprisingly, a sequel was in the works for release in 1991, but was cancelled at the prototype stage due to fear of it flopping against games such as Street Fighter II
, and Snake Rattle n Roll
and decades later Super Monkey Ball
- Acid Pool: The Slimes oozing around the course.
- Blow You Away: In reverse during the Aerial Race. Vacuums will pop up along one stretch to try and suck you off the course.
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: In two-player games, one player controls a blue marble and the other controls a red one.
- Comeback Mechanic: In the two-player mode, the first player to reach the goal wins the race and gets a five-second bonus for the next one. Also, on random occasions, a player who is about to run out of time will get 10 extra seconds, conferred by a magic wand that appears out of nowhere and taps the marble.
- Compilation Re-release: The game has been re-released many times, most notably in Midway Arcade Treasures Vol. 1.
- Dark Is Evil: The black "steelie" marbles will often try to impede your progress, but they can be avoided or even knocked off if they're close to an edge.
- Hyperspace Mallet: The last obstacle in the Aerial Race.
- Isometric Projection
- Mind Screw: The Silly Race, where going uphill is like going downhill and vice versa, among other things. (Gravity, though, acts perfectly normal if you fall off the track.) It even has a section full of tiny enemies that you can run over to earn bonus time and points.
- Nintendo Hard: The final three courses, due to a combo of narrow track designs and low time limits. The Ultimate Race is the worst of the lot by far, with weird track surfaces, enemies in the worst possible places, and disappearing track sections in the final run to the goal.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: The marble you control will break into pieces if it falls more than a fairly small distance. Shorter drops will stun it for a moment.
- Spiritual Successor: Super Monkey Ball is basically Marble Madness in 3D with monkeys and Nintendo Hard difficulty.
- Timed Mission: The marble technically has infinite lives—it's the timer you have to watch out for. If it hits zero, it's Game Over.
- What Could Have Been: The aborted 1991 sequel.