Marble Drop

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Marble Drop
Developer(s) Maxis South
Publisher(s) Maxis
Platform(s) PC
Release date(s) February 28, 1997[1]
Genre(s) Strategy

Marble Drop is a computer puzzle game published by Maxis on February 28, 1997.[1] It was the first puzzle game developed by Maxis.


Players are given an initial set of marbles that are divided evenly into eight colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and silver (steel). These marbles are picked up and dropped by the players into funnels leading to a series of rails, switches, traps and other devices which grow more complex as the game progresses. The aim is to ensure that each marble arrives in the bin of same color as the marble. Players must determine how the marble will travel through the puzzle, and how its journey will change the puzzle for the next marble. When a marble runs over certain sections of the puzzle, the paths may be rerouted or cut off, either temporarily or permanently. For example, if the marble runs over a button, it might hop, skip and jump a diversion that sends the next marble down a different road.[2]

There are 50 puzzles in total, including five bonus puzzles which can only be accessed by solving a combination of locks which appear in certain puzzles. Each puzzle is decorated with da Vinci-style notes and sketches. These explanatory notes are a part of the background, informing the player of new pieces of equipment and their effects. At the end of each puzzle, the marbles that have been guided into their proper bins are returned to the player. Lost marbles must be purchased when they are needed to complete a puzzle. Steel (silver) balls are 20 percent of the price of colored marbles and can be used as test marbles or to help release a catch instead of using a valuable colored marble; additionally, there are steel-coloured exit bins in one puzzle. Black marbles are very expensive, but change to the correct color when they arrive in a bin.[2]


Marble Drop
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 51%[1]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 5.2/10[2]
Computer Games Magazine 2.5/5[1]

Marble Drop received lukewarm reception upon release. It received a ranking of 5.2 out of 10 from Gamespot, considering it dull.[2] Computer Games Magazine gave it a 2.5 out of 5.[1]

Puzzle Pieces (Standard)[edit]

  • Start Funnel: The piece that allows a player to drop a new marble onto the track.
  • Conveyor Lift: Raises marbles up to a higher track.
  • Diverter: Redirects the marbles onto one of several tracks based on the state of the diverter. There is also a three way diverter.
  • Exit Bin: The container or target where all the marbles end up. The color of the exit bin must match the color of the marble inside.
  • Buzz Saw: Once an exit bin is filled, a buzz saw will appear and prevent any more marbles from entering the bin.
  • Spinner: A cosmetic spinner.
  • Puzzle Lock: Activated when a marble rolls over a trigger, a lock must be triggered in the correct sequence to unlock a bonus level.
  • Pendulum: A magnet which carries a marble across a gap to the track on the other side.
  • Target: Knocks Marble off course like a hanging pinball bumper.
  • Holding tube: Holds several marbles until it has reached capacity, then releases all the marbles once full.
  • Blocker: A one-use device that stops a marble and sends it back in the opposite direction.
  • Trigger: An electrical button that can re-arm puzzle pieces, change diverter states, or activate puzzle locks.
  • Cannon: Shoots the marble to another track.
  • Glue: Holds one marble until another one knocks it loose.
  • Crossbow: Holds a marble until it has been activated to shoot it to another track.
  • Teleporter: Teleports the marble to another part of the track.
  • Marble Generator: Creates new marbles.
  • Heater: a Bunsen Burner-like device which heats the marble into a red-hot color. This can only be used once. Passing through a freezer after heating cools the marble back to its normal. If a hot marble passes through the heater again, it will melt.
  • Freezer: a cooling dome with an icy mist which freezes the marble to an icy-blue color. This can only be used once. Passing through a heater after freezing, warms the marble back to normal. If a cold marble passes through the freezer again, it will shatter.
  • Timer: Activated by a Trigger which shows day and night.
  • Fuse: Allows impulses from trigger to pass through, If Blown impulses cannot travel further.
  • Destructor: Destroys all Marbles on Contact (These must be avoided at all costs).
  • Splitter: Makes 2 Duplicate marbles.
  • Merger: Mixes 2 different colored marbles.
  • Painter: Changes the color of a marble. Not effective on steel marbles.
  • Braking Tube: Breaks the fall of the marble using flappers on both sides of the tube.
  • Counter: a certain number of trigger pulses before the pulse can travel on along the wiring there is a 2 pulse or 5 pulse counter.

Puzzle Pieces (Bonus levels)[edit]

  • Single Register: Weighted target which can be Knocked down once
  • Multiple Register: button style target which can be pressed multiple times

Marble Tower[edit]

  • Warning Light: Alerts that puzzle reached maximum capacity (ignoring it will restart game)
  • Purchase Button: Pressing this button gives you marbles (They will deduct your points off your current score)
  • Marble Reservoir: Holds marbles to be used for the game
  • Reset Button: Destroys all marbles on the track


Each level is named after a historical scientist, philosopher, or mathematician.

  1. Thales of Miletus
  2. Tarquinius the Elder
  3. Priscian
  4. Xenophon
  5. Galileo (Bonus Level)
  6. Aristotle
  7. Archimedes
  8. Euclid
  9. Eratosthenes
  10. Polybius
  11. Ctesibius
  12. Ma Chun
  13. Hero of Alexandria
  14. Speusippus
  15. Democritus
  16. Brunelleschi
  17. Archytas of Tarente
  18. Christiaan Huygens (Bonus Level)
  19. Philo of Athens
  20. Cato the Elder
  21. Philo of Byzantium
  22. Hipparchus
  23. Shao Ong
  24. Dionysus Thrax
  25. Geminus of Rhodes
  26. Plato
  27. Sripati (Bonus Level)
  28. Marcus Tiron
  29. Pliny the Elder
  30. Vitruvius
  31. Ts'ai Lun
  32. Apollonius Dyskolos
  33. Belisarius
  34. Apollonius (Bonus Level)
  35. Isidore of Seville
  36. Chang Hsu-hsun
  37. Gerbert d'Aurillac
  38. Pi Cheng
  39. Gui d'Arezzo
  40. Su Sung
  41. Guido di Vigevano
  42. Salvino degliArmati
  43. Albertus Magnus (Bonus Level)
  44. Leone Alberti
  45. Timdeharis
  46. Giovanni
  47. Kiddinu
  48. Thabit Ibn Quarra
  49. Gutenberg
  50. Copernicus (This level is invisible)


  1. ^ a b c d e "Marble Drop for PC - GameRankings". GameRankings. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hunsanger, Kevin (1997-03-19). "Marble Drop for PC Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 

External links[edit]