My buddy Jeremy Buchman is a geek. From the shirts he wears to the conversations he carries, he is a total nerd. I say that with a smile on my face as I know he will not take offense to that. I met him for brunch today and he was wearing a Super Mario Brothers shirt. Now that I think about it, every shirt he owns has some video game or science fiction reference. I mention Jeremy because he is the guy who designed and developed this app. He asked me a few weeks ago to review it. I would have reviewed it earlier, but I can’t stop playing it! After you see read my review of the app, you will understand why. It is the most addicting app I have found yet.
The app is called MarbleJump. It is available on both the iPhone and the iPad. I downloaded the app on my iPhone, but would love to see what it looks like on the iPad. After playing it for a few weeks, I told him he should have called the app Cracker Barrel, but he was worried about a lawsuit. If you have ever been to Cracker Barrel, you will understand the reference. When he first told me about the app, I went to the iTunes app store and purchased the app. The app already had thirty-four reviews when I downloaded it, but I didn’t read any of them, as I wanted a fresh experience without any expectations.
Overall First Experience
When the app had finished downloading, I started a new game. There I was… a kid again. I was sitting at Cracker Barrel with that game in front of me just teasing me as I moved one golf tee over the other. I used to cheat, too. I wanted to win! No way to cheat here, though. I played a few games before I realized that there was a little counter at the bottom keeping score. I finished a game and I left five marbles on the board. When I ran out of moves, a little screen popped up and said:
5 marbles remaining. Keep trying!
Press the new game button to play
I pressed the new game button and my board refreshed. After playing a handful of games, I noticed that it also told me how many moves were available. There are hints all over the game, you just have to look for them. There is even a button that says “Hint” if you get stuck. That is actually one of my biggest issues with the game. When you tap “Hint” you have to pay close attention to the game board. The little dashes between marbles light up, but unless you are paying attention you might miss it. I wish there was a more obvious hint that provided a better graphical user experience. This is something that he could easily fix with an app update. Hopefully he takes my advice!
There are a few buttons along the bottom that you can press, and the first one is Instructions. Press that, and you are hit with details on How To Play, Settings, and Scoring. I suggest reading these first as it will give you a better understanding of the game, how the game is scored, and how you can customize your overall gaming experience. I found those out on my own just by pressing buttons, but he does a great job of laying all that out for the user.
The scoring is also pretty simple, but there was one caveat that I wasn’t aware of that he explains in the Scoring section. It states, “Please note that one marble left in the originally empty space is designated below as Zero and as “0” on the probability graph below the playing surface.” That is good to know when you run out of marbles. Needless to say, after three weeks with this game I have yet to run out of marbles!
Under Instructions it explains settings, but if you Tap settings you will find a lot of ways to customize your overall experience. Here you can change marble material, board material, and the board layout. You can also change the starting position. Other options include:
- Show Playing Board
- Show Move Markings
- Show Predictive Stats
- Show Available Moves
All of those options are on by default, but you can easily turn those off depending on your personal preferences.
I like changing the marble color and the board material. There are fifty-three different marble materials to choose from and thirty-four different board materials to choose from. Not sure why he decided to use these different materials, but it is fun to mess around with different patterns. The version I downloaded was v3.0.0, so I am sure there will be new layouts in the future. He said today, at brunch, that he was in the process of working on an update for the app.
When I used to play this game at Cracker Barrel, the board was a triangle. MarbleJump has this option, but it also has seven different board layouts including:
- Clover Small
Those three have statistics. There are four boards that do not provide stats. Those boards include:
As you can see, there are several ways to customize your experience. I like changing the starting position to see if I can lower my score. I also like changing the board around to see how difficult the game really can be. While I was writing this, I tried the French board. I had seven marbles left after my first game. Totally different than playing with a triangle and it forces you to think differently as you change boards.
After playing this game for a few weeks, I must admit I am hooked. Regardless of what board I use, I always end up going back to the triangle. But I like trying new boards and new starting positions to challenge myself. This is a great game, offering hours of fun, and is one that will leave you moving marbles in your sleep.
Other apps from Jeremy Buchman include:
“MarbleJump is an engaging way to spend those moments when you find yourself waiting for life.” – Jeremy Buchman