Marble shooters aren’t a totally new idea, of course – the idea here is to fire marbles so as to join an ever-advancing line – where three or more marbles are of the same colour then they explode and disappear. If the coming together of the marbles around them cause another match, then you get a combo bonus, and so on. Each level is distinctive and designed so that you often have to plan when you’ll attack each section of the marble snake(s) coming towards your lair.
The basic gameplay is good enough to warrant being made into an iPhone title, but StoneLoops! of Jurassica goes the extra mile. In fact, it goes an extra ten miles, with powerups such as ‘Avalanche’ (in which most of the marbles fall out of the line) and ‘Spear’, in which you get to fire half a dozen spears at awkward marbles. The powerups simply appear at random and are auto-activated, you don’t need to remember which is which, thankfully. When simply firing marbles or when firing lightning bolts at the advancing line, the animation and effects on screen are first class.
StoneLoops! goes further still by including the ‘Grab ‘n’ Shoot’ alternative game mode, in which you can play the whole set of themed 75 levels all over again, but with the different gameplay mechanic. In this, you ‘grab’ existing marbles out of the line and then ‘shoot’ them back in at a different point. It’s not quite as much fun as blasting marbles frantically, right, left and centre, but it’s good to have for when you fancy a change,
Bonus levels (in either game mode) are inserted, with simpler lines but with an extra emphasis on speed. There’s also a whole back plot, in which you’re earning ‘upgrades’ for your stone age ‘house’, and a currency system wherein you earn gems, but these seem rather unnecessary in the light of the rest of the game’s delights.
Being picky, the biggest fault with StoneLoops! of Jurassica is that the atmospheric soundtrack is only in mono – a full stereo experience would have worked much, much better here. That aside, the game is virtually flawless and will please any iPhone or iPod Touch gamer from 5 years upwards.