Kevin Peters Unrau
Beat the 8 Ball
The Quick Look
Beat the 8 Ball is a fun retro game for kids by Ideal Games for 2-4 players. Average playing time is under 15 minutes. The goal of the game is to collect 10 points. This is accomplished by releasing your marble from its holder, watching it roll down your track hoping that it gets to the scoring slot before the “8 Ball” (which is twirling around a funnel above the scoring slot) gets there first. The player who gets their marble into the slot just before the 8 Ball gets the most points, while those who don’t beat the 8 Ball actually lose points. The best part of this game is screaming at your marble to GO, GO, GO!!! as you watch the 8 Ball twirl closer to the bottom of the funnel. The worst part is having someone bump the game and throw off your carefully timed marble release. You can learn this game in two minutes and can enjoy some repeated play. I played this game all the time as a kid. This game is targeted to children though and adults will get bored quickly with this as anything other than an extremely light filler.
Bottom Line: I won’t haul this one out, but I’ll gladly join in for a game or two if a child asks.
Why You Might Like or Dislike this Game
This game definitely targets children. The 8 Ball twirling around the funnel as it spins towards the slot provides the major luck component. The skill component is being able to time the release of your marble so that it gets to the slot just before the 8 Ball but after the other players’ marbles. Player interaction is limited to the competition that comes from everyone trying to be the last to release their marble and still beat the 8 Ball. The mechanic is pretty much the theme. Games usually finish in ten to fifteen minutes. Overall this game is for kids who like head to head competition and games with mechanical components.
The rules are simple and the game isn’t language dependant. The components are made of the typical 70's plastic used in North American mass market games. The individual tracks snap into a central base, which includes the scoring slot, and a funnel snaps on top. All come apart for storage. Each individual track has a clip to hold your marble (no pushing your marble allowed!) and a slider to keep track of your score with numbers from -10 to +10. The scoring slot has a narrow bottom with number increasing from +1 to +4 which widens to accommodate the larger 8 Ball and numbering continuing from -1 to -4.
Playing the Game
The game is assembled on a sturdy level surface (this is a must or this game just won’t work). The marbles are placed in their holders and the 8 Ball is set twirling around the funnel. Players release their marbles which roll down the tracks and hopefully beat the 8 Ball before it drops into the scoring slot. The first player into the scoring slot will score 1 point, the second 2 points and so on until the 8 Ball enters the scoring slot after which the first player to follow the 8 Ball will lose 1 point, the second will lose 2 points and so on. The game goes to +10 points. Ties can be broken with a play-off or can be allowed to stand as a tie.
You can play the game or you can play the players. If you play the game you really need to focus on the 8 Ball as it rolls around and learn to time your play exactly. If you play the players you can simply watch to see who usually beats the 8 Ball and who doesn’t and simply release your marble after all those who usually beat the 8 Ball have released their marbles.