The Game: Marvin built a maze on two levels, with habitrail-style tunnels to take him from the first floor to the second and back again, and all was well until the Robonoids moved in and took over. Now they’re out to evict Marvin from his own turf! It’s up to you to guide Marvin through his maze, using cunning one-way bridges to escape from the Robonoids and find the power-ups he needs to zap them. Marvin moves on to the next maze (and the next level of difficulty) only by clearing this maze of power-ups and dots. (SNK, 1983)
Memories: I hadn’t heard of this one before, and now I wonder why. In a way, there’s more than a passing resemblance to Crystal Castles, but there’s also a little bit of an homage to Pac-Man‘s power pellets and a little bit of shooting too. So now it’s like Crystal Butt-Kickin’ Castles. With cute character designs that are worthy of Q*Bert.
It’s also addictively fun, even if it is difficult. Marvin’s Maze seems like a game that should have caught on, somehow, except that it post-dated the beginning of the arcade industry’s stumble, following the home video game industry’s fall. The sound effects and visuals are very well-rendered and even the robotic menaces are cute in their own retro-’50s-B-movie kind of way. The strategy for dealing with Robonoids is a neat element of the game – it doesn’t take long to figure out how to help Marvin inflict the maximum amount of damage with the minimal resources at his disposal.
Marvin’s Maze is one of those games that time forgot, more for hitting the arcades at the wrong time than anything else. If it had even made it to a console arcade compilation, I’d recommend it to you. As it is, Marvin’s Maze has become a true Phosphor Dot Fossil.