Marble Madness is an isometric platform game in which the player manipulates an onscreen marble from a third-person perspective. In the arcade version, a player controls the marble's movements with a trackball; most home versions use game controllers with directional pads. The player's goal is to complete six maze-like isometric race courses before a set amount of time expires. With the exception of the first race, any time left on the clock at the end of a race is carried over to the next one, and the player is granted a set amount of additional time as well. The game allows two players to compete against each other, awarding bonus points and extra time to the winner of each race; both players have separate clocks.
Courses are populated with various objects and enemies designed to obstruct the player. As the game progresses, the courses become increasingly difficult and introduce more enemies and obstacles. Each course has a distinct visual theme. For example, the first race (titled "Practice") is a simple course that is much shorter than the others, while the fifth race (named "Silly") features polka-dot patterns and is oriented in a direction opposite that of the other courses.
Cartridge Only. Game data from previous use may be present, but can be overwritten or deleted. Bonus downloadable or promotional content may have already been redeemed. Cleaning and repair was done as required.