Ball rolling games come in many shapes and sizes. Marble Blast Mobile is a great example of a 3D spinner while Rolando implemented a platformer-like side view. Dark Nebula is completely different, though, with a top down view that plays much like a futuristic Labyrinth.
The concept behind Dark Nebula is very unique. A marble has infiltrated a futuristic space factory full of dangerous weaponry, such as spinning spike arms and plasma cannons. In the first episode, there is little story to be told, but an intense firewall destruction level at the end of the game hints at a malevolent plan.
This is true marble madness.
Dark Nebula is made up of ten levels. The majority of them have you rolling your marble down a winding path towards a conveyor belt at the end. You can control the speed and direction of your ball by tilting the device. The accelerometer implementation is among the best we have seen, allowing for quick and precise movements in a split second.
Two of the levels are deemed ‘speed runs’. These send your ball rolling at top speeds and only ask you to turn it left or right. However, even without control over your speed, you must keep up with the increased pace.
Each level is designed with care. New gameplay mechanics are constantly introduced, like bouncing tiles, smaller marbles that must be placed in sockets, and multicolored chargers which allow you to pass through gates. Many times these elements must be combined. For example, at one point in the game you must push the smaller marbles into cannon fire to connect it into its socket and open a gate. This leads to some interesting challenges.
Who knew a marble could hop platforms?
Dark Nebula is no graphical slouch either. Detailed, crisp textures overlay multi-layered artwork. Every little nuance adds to the extreme polish on this title. Our only complaint was that the marble didn’t seem to roll so much as float, but this was trivial.
The only issue keeping this from being a Must Have game is its lack of content. After about 45 minutes, you are given a ‘to be continued’ screen. We understand that more episodes are planned for the future, but we were a little let down after becoming hooked. Replay value is added through a gold star system, but ultimately the experience feels very repetitive the second time around.
Even with the issue of length, we feel Dark Nebula is a great way to spend $0.99. If you are looking for an original game that will provide sufficient challenge, pick this one up with confidence.