Shady Corner puts Marble Maid into an eyebrow-raising category. Shady as in dodgy? Shifty? A little bit under the table? Not really, but if you saw my news bit on it, the artwork might be deemed… niche.
If Johnny Depp’s ok to air his laundry, I’ll guess I’ll do a bit of mine, too: I’m as much of a perv as the next guy – especially if his name is Larry Laffer. However, anime maids flashing their flaps doesn’t do anything for me, so the fan art in the game is wasted on someone like myself, but perfect for fans (and the artists!).
They’re a bit like the fan art in Who’s Lila? – mostly cute and a similar(ish) style, but upskirt shots, boob-a-loo’s, bumping uglies, and what-not were a bit too risky for me to play with my kids around. Even the missus. Granted, there’s a very clear disclaimer that Marble Maid isn’t for kids, so if you show them, it’s on you.
That’s a shame then, as Marble Maid gameplay is ace, and I’ve really been enjoying it. Note ‘enjoying’ – it’s ongoing. The aim of the game is to clean up some dust bunnies that have escaped by navigating your maid around in a ball, or… marble.
Think Marble Madness to some extent, but using your lil’ maid to collect these bunnies. And no, this isn’t the makkuro kurosuke you’ll see in Ghibli, but they’re just as cute – but so damn fast! Said bunnies will be minding their own business, and you have to roll into them to capture them. You need three to beat the level, but five is the real goal.
When you unlock these bunnies, you’ll be awarded with fan art, which can be viewed by exploring the gaming world of Marble Maid. Optional, of course, and despite my reservations, I did look at each one I unlocked. Phwoar! BUTT: collecting these bunnies is only half of it as this is effectively a platform puzzle game where falling off the edge will spell your doom, but not for good.
This maid is pretty hardcore and won’t die, per se, but ideally, you want to be completing these levels as swiftly as possible. If the timer runs out, it’s game over. Typically, levels are pretty contained and over quickly unless extended through collectable items to add some time to the clock. The bunnies will fall off the edge but respawn in the same place, so it’s possible to have a reliable strategy, pending you can get back to the gate to complete the stage.
Marble Maid is just the right kind of game for playing on the go. As mentioned, levels are relatively swift, and because of that, expect to get hooked and replaying levels to get all the bunnies. Admittedly, I’d do the minimum to unlock the new areas but then return to try and get everything. Besides the gallery, there are secret areas too (which I’m working on). Under the mattress is usually a safe option.
Besides the direct control of the maid via the ball, she can also charge up a mental dash and, if timed right, can get you across several areas. But beware: it’s so powerful that most of the time, you’ll end up ricocheting off of one of the many obstacles and hit the deck, losing valuable time.
Marble Maid is responsive, and the controls intuitive. My only complaint would be the camera angles. You can swing the camera around with the analogue sticks and switch to a closer view that looks good but is tricky to use. However, when up against the clock, you might roll under a bridge in the dark and not be able to find your way back, let alone position yourself. It’s not game-breaking in the slightest, but it’s pretty frustrating when it rears its head.
So yeah, Marble Maid is a pleasant surprise. Enjoyable gameplay, nice visuals, plenty of replay value for unlocking everything, speedrunning and locating secrets, but most importantly, the fun. Oh, and I hasten to add, I could never tire of hearing her shout “Wheeeeeeeeee!” when falling to her death. Marvellous.