Marble Madness II leaks online after over thirty years
For every yin, there’s a yang. I may have lost my marbles, but it looks like the internet has just found some. The arcade classic Marble Madness has been entertaining gamers and gluttons for punishment alike since 1984; frustratingly catchy music plinks and plonks in your ears as you guide a marble down ever-more elaborate platforms and slopes. Revolutionary for its time, the game employed a physical trackball which you rolled around (with your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!) to control your marble and featured tough-as-nails difficulty that kept punters coming back for more – and, crucially, spending their quarters. Its legacy can’t be overstated, which is why it baffled so many that a sequel was never made, as tends to be the case for commercial smashes like it.
See, the thing is, a sequel was made, titled Marble Madness II of all things, but following a bit of market research it was deemed unlikely to turn a profit. Massive deviation from the original (superhero mascots and pinball elements were added) and gimmicky controls were cited as the reasons for dumping the follow-up, and for years Marble Madness II languished in obscurity, existing only in the form of a few prototype cabinets that found their way into the wild. If you just couldn’t get enough of that ball-numbing action, you were out of luck.
Finding your marbles
Until now. As TechSpot reports, a build of the sequel has leaked online… some three decades after it was created. Better late than never, I always say. “Recently, an emulator-ready ROM of Marble Madness II started circulating on the Internet,” states the report. As Ars Technica highlights, “it’s unclear who is responsible for the dump, but longtime MAME contributor David Haywood has a theory.” Said theory being? Have a read.
“I think the most likely explanation is the simplest: a PCB turned up, the owner dumped the ROM data from it and put it on The Internet Archive, not wanting the attention it would bring with a more public announcement,” Haywood said. Jason Scott, of the Internet Archive itself, concurred, but did not have the kindest things to say about the game itself. “Marble Madness II is a classic example of [when] a beautiful game is created and the sequel completely forgets why the original was great. I am excited that this long-anticipated game is out in the wild, because people can realize how uninteresting the game is and move on.” That’s the spirit, Jason!
The input from notable experts in this area didn’t stop there. Frank Cifaldi, founder of the Video Game History Foundation, tossed his own two cents into the ring about the game surfacing. “I think Marble Madness captured a lot of imaginations, and whether the sequel was worthy of it or not, it’s hard not to be compelled by the idea of it,” he said. “We all love a good ‘what if’ story, [and] unreleased games like this are the closest we get to peeking into alternate realities.”
Well, I don’t know about that, Frank – transdimensional travel is an arcane science, after all – but I’m glad so many are pleased with this find, even if they’re less than impressed with the game. Love it or hate it, Marble Madness II is finally unleashed into the wild, so roll up, roll up – give it a whirl. You just might have a ball. Be bowled over, even. I’m sphere-ious.
Will you be having a go at the game? Let us know!