SukeBancho June 7, 2021 Marble Maid – Cleaning and Playing with balls

Marble Maid – Cleaning and Playing with balls

Marble Maid doesn’t pretend to be much larger than it is, which helps it feel true to itself. Its cute and simple premise sees the player controlling Marble Maid as she gets hired to clean a magical mansion out of the many literal dust bunnies that hide around every corner. You visit individual worlds themed around different areas of the mansion and try to complete each world’s set of 10 levels before moving on to the next. Each stage has a minimum number of dust bunnies to collect and a set time to clear the level under. Each world also has one hidden level in it with its own set of dust bunnies to collect. 

Collecting dust bunnies is the primary way you get access to the lewd picture gallery as well. After a certain number is collected, more and more of the images become cleared of dust and you get access to enjoy them. It’s an effective reward structure that gets you to engage with the game and to go back and re-clear stages for total completion so you can enjoy more of the art. 

The controls are simple. You use WASD to make Marble Maid start rolling into that direction, your mouse controls the camera, space is to jump, and you can hold left click to start charging for a speed boost. The boost can only be activated from a near-dead stop though. The game recommends playing on a controller, however, this review was conducted mostly on the keyboard and mouse since plugging in a controller caused the camera to spin to the left. A few tests were done and it seemed that the issue was Marble Maid and not just the controller. 

As a Marble Platformer, control over the player character is important. When playing, there was no real issue with controlling the maid. Turns, brakes, jumps, and stops were all very responsive. Controls were good to the point that a lot of the stages weren’t all too difficult. A lot of tricky jumps could be made on the first try of imagining it and many of the more outlandish attempted skips functioned perfectly as well. This gives the game a feeling of open creativity. If a player is focused on just clearing the stages and collecting dust bunnies, there’s a path that’s not too complex to navigate that will still test you from time to time. There’s also plenty of ample room for the player to use the unique physics of the game to create their own routes as well. The implementation of a speedrun mode seems like the developers’ intent is to motivate players to be thinking about these courses in the context of speed. A generous checkpoint system also seems implemented to promote creativity as well. 

As the main collectible, dust bunnies will take up most of your initial focus through the game. They come in three different types: active, passive, and chonk. Active bunnies will move when you approach them and actively run away from you. Passive bunnies are asleep and won’t move no matter how close you get to them. Chonk bunnies are one big bunny that needs to be tapped before the smaller bunnies come out and can be collected. Five bunnies are placed throughout each stage and collecting one creates a checkpoint. Since only three are needed to pass the level, typically two are off the beaten path and hidden. This isn’t the case in all the stages and this helps the game from becoming too stale.

Each stage is unique and usually has its own quirks that make them distinct through general level layout, bunny locations, and developer creativity. Some stages are obstacle courses, others are races to the finish with a tight timer, some have more open spaces to allow the player to go for whichever order of bunnies they want, and others change the pace entirely. It’s a good way to keep the player engaged and interested in what the next level will be. Which makes the lack of a “Next level” button a bit annoying. 

Upon completing a stage, you’re given the option to retry or continue. Once the player hits continue, they will be taken back to the hub world, and be standing in front of the world they were just in and have to select the next level manually. It’s not a long wait between loading and menus but the time adds up between each and every stage. Another slightly annoying thing is the fail menu. When you run out of time, on the fail screen, you get the choice of exiting the level or retrying it. The default position of the highlighted menu is on “exit level” which is on the right of the screen. Yet the pass screen has a default menu position on the left. Meaning it’s possible to be trying to get back into the mission after failing and, instead of going right back into the level, you accidentally leave and need to select the stage again. When this becomes a more significant problem is in the bonus stages. Because Bonus stages are found within a level and are typically more difficult than normal levels, you’re likely to fail, want to retry, hit exit level instead, and now have to get to the secret level once again for your next attempt. 

A more pressing annoyance is the dust bunnies themselves. Active dust bunnies (ones that move around) can go through certain objects that are solid to the player and can fall off platforms. Once a bunny falls off the stage, it’ll respawn at a fixed location. This creates an odd dilemma. Because bunnies that fall off will respawn, and you’re under a fixed timer, this results in two things. The first is that you hope the bunny just runs and falls off the platform after seeing you so you can sit on their spawn and wait for them to be collected. The second are these “cannonball” runs where you use the speed boost to catch the bunny before you fly off the platform because collection results in a checkpoint. Which ends up serving as a more chaotic but also engaging way to look at the stages to create your own fun by stringing together insane jumps. However, hard mode disables checkpoints which result in that strategy being less useful.

One thing that also works as a disincentive is the exclusive Shady Lewd Kart world. In the game, there is a world based around Shady Lewd Kart as a part of their “Lock N Lewd” function. In order to unlock the Shady Lewd Kart world, you have to beat the game and own Shady Lewd Kart. While this is an interesting feature and rewards fans of both games, certain achievements are tied to it as well. Meaning completionists are going to need to buy another game just for a few more Marble Maid levels and to obtain a 100% achievement collection. The function is interesting and serves fans but might be harder to sell for first-time customers. 

Overall, Marble Maid is a fun but somewhat flawed game. It has creative levels, a simple reward structure, lots of replay value, and is a fun way to spend a couple of hours playing with balls and enjoying lewd art. Some minor annoyances bring the game down but it’s never anything to ruin the whole experience. There’s much to enjoy here for two hours and if you like the general gameplay, there’s plenty to come back to and clean up with this adorable maid. 

Have you played the game? feel free to discuss it in the comments.

Marble Maid Review

v1.3.3

Writing: 2 Writing ability, spelling, grammar, story structure, etc.

Visuals: 2.5 Render quality, character appearance, lighting, etc.

Production: 4 Game mechanics, engine utilities, UI, etc.

2.8

SukeBancho

I'm a non-binary NSFW VA that often writes as well. I have a bachelor's and a lot of opinions about all sorts of games and anime

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