Marooners is a very simple party-style experience where you compete against up to 5 other players (and/or bots) in a series of mini games. You choose from from a variety of fun chibi-esque characters and weapons (you can be a viking who uses a fish as a sword or arm a caveman with a floret of broccoli), but it is just for variety with no gameplay impact. The longer you play, the game the more of these avatars and weapons you will unlock. The selection variety is cute and larger than expected.
After everyone has chosen their players and weapons, the round will begin. The mini games are presented to you as ten locations, each representing a mini game, on an old treasure map. The camera will randomly zoom in on a location and that mini game begins.
All of the mini games share the same very simple control scheme: move, jump, and attack. However, the goal of the mini games change. In one, you are running down a path being chased by giant boulders Indiana Jones style and trying not to get crushed.
In another, the ground beneath you is constantly sinking into the water, and you need to stay one step ahead of the other players to stay afloat.
In another, you try not to get crushed by a giant platform that falls from the sky with everyone battling for a spot in the safe zone.
A nice touch is that in each game a player who dies can come back as a ghost. Ghosts can't win the mini games or score any points, but they can still attack other players and make them lose the mini game and/or lose points.
The ultimate goal of the game is to be the player with the most points at the end of the round once all of the mini games have concluded. Points come in the form of money in various denominations: coins are worth 1 point, emeralds 5 points, and blue gems are worth 10 points. There are three ways to increase your score. You can pick up points as they appear during the mini games, and use your attack to knock a few coins out of an enemy to grab them yourself. Or you can win the mini games to get 25 points awarded in a Leprechaun-esque pot of gold. Points are plentiful in the games themselves, which means you can win the round overall and never actually win a single mini game. Neat.
All of the games are very simple, but Marooners employs a genius mechanic that makes this deviously fun: Chaos Mode. When you enable Chaos Mode the game will randomly shift to a different mini game right in the middle of the one you were just playing. However, it will remember exactly where everyone was, the scores, etc. You have to remember the state of the game because eventually it will loop back around and pick up right where it left off. If you aren't paying attention, you won't remember what you were doing and likely die within seconds. It's insanity as this gets faster the longer the game goes on. You may have to juggle up to ten mini games at the same time. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have a lot of fun.
Each game plays in about 20 to 30 minutes (including all of the mini game time). You can choose to disable Chaos Mode, but without it the game is significantly less fun. In fact, I would couldn't recommend it due to the limited number of shallow mini games. Chaos Mode is unique and really makes it frantic fun. Without it, I cannot say the same.
Marooners is a game that you can play online, but I would highly recommend playing it in person with a group of friends on the couch (even if that means you need a cheap USB hub for more controller inputs). This is a trend that has been lost over the decades of gaming, but there is something special about playing a game in person with people that is lost when playing over the internet. This game loses a lot when you aren't surrounded by people you like, laughing together at the craziness of it, and having a few drinks.
The USB controller support for this game is surprisingly robust. I tried the following controllers and all of them worked without any issues: Xbox 360, PS3, Sabrent Twelve-Button, and Logitech Gamepad F310. This is good news since it may be difficult to get 4-6 USB controllers hooked up (who owns that many?). But if everyone brings their own it is nice to know there is a good chance it will work.
However, with less than 30 different mini games, a short round time, and a lack of deep content, the game wears out its welcome pretty quick. You'll get a night of real fun out of this, but only one night. After that, there's really no reason to return to this unless you are rediscovering it a year or two later when you no longer remember any of the mini games.
Ultimately, Marooners doesn't have any staying power and almost no depth. But it's fun in the short term. This is a good game to whip out at a party or with a group of good friends once a year, but that's about it. If that's what you are looking for, then this game is right up there for you.