Mobile review: Marbly

There's a lot of pressure that comes with being one of the men who created Tetris, one of the world's most universally-recognized video games. With that kind of resume comes a lot of expectations, so when I heard that Alexey Pajitnov had released his first iOS game under the Wildsnake Software banner, I couldn't wait to try it out. However, while Marbly is a nice enough distraction, it's hardly the revolutionary puzzle game I expected it to be.

Marbly is a static puzzle game with a field of pre-set marbles. The idea is to slide marbles over to match three or more of the same color. Aside from creating matches, marbles cannot be positioned away from their starting spot. With some puzzles featuring multiple colors of marbles that can't move over one another, it proves to be a tougher task than it sounds, albeit a standard one.

What makes Marbly interesting is the increasing complexity of each stage. Beyond adding more marble colors, the playing field takes on more unconventional measurements, looking more like a crossword puzzle-like layout. While early solutions might appear straightforward, later puzzles will toss out dozens of marbles and carelessly matching colors together could lead you to an unsolvable sequence. Players are allowed a certain number of Undo's, Hints, and Solves (in which the CPU will solve the puzzle for you) to help them out, but these features shouldn't be abused, because once they're gone, the only to get more is to pay real money for them.

There's incentive to complete puzzles the first time through, since many of them will award in-game coins that can be used to unlock later batches of puzzles. Restarting puzzles or quitting back to the main menu will permanently forfeit their game coin bonuses. At that point, the only way to earn coins is to either complete challenges or to purchase the coins with real money. As easy as some of the puzzles can be, run into enough confounding conundrums and you might find yourself reaching into your wallet to access the rest of the game.

In terms of accessibility, Marbly hits the same notes that Pajitnov's old-school classic does. It's easy to pick up and play, it's a snap to learn, and it's simple enough to appeal to all ages. However, it's missing that certain frustration and addiction factor. If I hit a wall at any point, I didn't feel that compelling urge to keep going. In that sense, Marbly felt like any other iOS puzzle game I've played in recent months.

Marbly offers plenty of game for its free price tag with puzzles that are both simple and challenging. Its longevity is ultimately determined by whether you want to drop down a few bucks for the extra puzzles. It's a fine puzzle game, but don't look for Marbly to reinvent the puzzle genre the way Pajitnov's opus once did.

This Marbly review was based on copy of the game downloaded by the reviewer, and tested on a third-generation iPad and third-generation iPod Touch. The game is a universal app available now on the App Store.