Marble Champions' Demo Makes a Strong First Impression

Get a dose of NES-talgia and childhood with these marbles

Marble Champions' Demo Makes a Strong First Impression
Source: Steam.

Marble Champions is a 3D racing game that takes some cues from the NES classic Marble Madness but also more modern smash hits like Fall Guys. Currently, it is available on Steam in the form of a free demo. Allow me a few minutes of your time to tell you what the demo has to show for itself.

The Basics

At the main menu, players will find their gameplay options: Daily Challenge, League, and Tournaments. These are all single-player options with Daily Challenge being the only mode that requires an internet connection. Daily Challenge gives the player 3 randomly generated tracks, of easy, medium, and hard difficulties to select from. The player then attempts a solo time trial run of their chosen track. The game keeps tabs on who has the best time of each of the daily tracks globally and places a ghost of that player's run on the course along with the player's own best run. There's no limit to how many attempts a player has on any of the tracks beyond the daily reset timer. Humble brag incoming: yours truly has managed to hold a few daily world records. It certainly feels great to be the top roller even knowing the game will reset the next day.

League is essentially the quick play mode in this demo (although there is an actual Quick Play mode grayed out and unavailable in this current demo build). In League, players race through a continuous stream of randomly generated tracks against 74 other computer-controlled racers. Tracks can last anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes depending on the length and complexity of obstacles. Each completed race earns the player some rank points depending on how well they did. The downtime between races is rather short so be ready to roll again quickly! Tournament mode is a 5-track series of preset races, unlike the randomly generated tracks in League, that function more or less as Cups that you would see in kart racing games. Players collect race points depending on how well they place on each track against 99 other computer-controlled racers and a champion is crowned at the end of the series based on accumulated points.

Personally these tracks remind of the special stages from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Source: Steam.

Each of the game modes rewards players with coins that can be used to purchase new and different marbles. Coins are also earned for actions performed like destroying marbles and completing missions that refresh daily. There are 20 marbles total to collect each with different stats. While some marbles are flat out better than others, each one features a unique design. If nothing else, this should give players the "collect them all" itch. My personal favorite is the marble that straight up looks like a cheeseburger. Roll little burger, roll!


Marbles move through half-pipe-shaped tracks, reminiscent of Sonic 2's special stages, racing to the finish while interacting with various obstacles. These include boost pads, walls that may or may not topple over a la Takeshi's Castle, spiked objects that will destroy your marble (sending it back to checkpoints), and swinging bars that will knock marbles all over the place. Even the Fall Guys see-saw shows up. Some of these obstacles are more fun to interact with than others but hey, this is a demo, the game is still being tuned.

The controls are straightforward. The left stick controls basic movement and the right stick controls the camera although there is an option in settings to have the camera auto-correct for the player (personally, I do NOT recommend this). Players can make their marble perform a small jump and apply brakes. The hop did not seem terribly useful to me but the brake definitely did as speed boost strips are frequent while walls that help keep players on the track are not. Players can bump into each other, altering their trajectory and speed, and even destroy another player's marble if they bump into them after hitting a boost strip. You'll know if your marble is able to deal a death blow when it is surrounded by lightning.

So far the demo only allows play against CPUs but imagine what online PvP gameplay could look like. Source: Author.

There isn't much difference in gameplay between the League and Tournaments modes other than whether the tracks will be randomly generated or a fixed design. Quick Race and Local Multiplayer can be seen in the main menu but are grayed out and not available at this time. It is not a terribly robust demo however what is currently available is fun to play. The visual and audio aesthetics are cohesive and make sense. Marbles control well enough for a demo and the short downtime between races in League and Tournament modes make this very much a pick-up-and-play experience. For the more competitive-minded players, the Daily Challenge tracks provide a PvP opportunity.

The Future

It is worth noting that the solo developer of Marble Champions, Luc Versleijen, is very open to feedback and can be reached both on the Steam community hub as well as a Discord server he has set up for the game. Speaking with Luc one-on-one, he has indicated that the final version of the game will feature local multiplayer, 10 League ranks, 10 Tournaments, and "a handful of different daily challenges that should keep players occupied for quite some time." The final version of the game should be hitting virtual shelves in the next few months. When asked about online functions beyond what's in the Daily Challenge mode, Luc responded, "Online multiplayer would be a dream, but unfortunately I don't have the skills to pull that off. My plan is to release the game and if it becomes somewhat successful, hire a developer with experience in multiplayer to help me add PvP to the game."

Personally, I hope that Luc finds the success he’s seeking. This is not Versleijen’s first venture into gaming development nor is it his first published work. Do a little digging and you see he has a history of making fun games, mostly in the mobile market. If nothing else, both Marble Champions and his openness to feedback on it demonstrate his commitment to providing players with an enjoyable experience. He is an experienced and pragmatic developer looking for his big break.

Speed isn't everything. Players need to be prepared to deftly navigate these Takeshi's Castle-esque obstacles! Source: Author.

While the content in the demo is light, what is there feels good to play, and cohesive to look at and listen to. The available content is very pick-up-and-play oriented but features that will come out in the full version such as local multiplayer will fill the game out more. There is no set release date beyond the developer saying, "in the next few months." Check the demo out and see if Marble Champions will scratch an itch for you.

You can play the Marble Champions demo via Steam right now. Go and check it out!


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