Sparkle 2 is a bright and colourful puzzle game where a row, or multiple rows of glossy marbles move across the screen towards a hole. Your job is to keep them out of that hole. How do you that? Well, you create matches of 3 or more of the same coloured marbles to try and keep pushing that row back. I genuinely could end the review here as that really does sum up everything you need to know about the core game but I guess I shouldn’t so, here goes.
Sparkle 2 is the sequel to Sparkle Unleashed and is similar in style to the very popular Popcap game, Zuma. It was developed by 10tons Ltd who are a company that tend to work in the arcade style game and mobile platforms with releases on Xbox One of just the two Sparkle games, Crimsonland and Baseball Riot. It was released on Xbox on the 27th of January this year at a very reasonable £6.39.
Sparkle 2 is a very pretty looking game using big, bright and bold colours to really make everything stand out, especially the coloured marbles. There isn’t anything new in the form of this puzzle game. At its roots it is simply a “match three” game and we have all played one of those, whether of the sort Zuma or Puzzle Bobble, Candy Crush or even Columns. It is hard to judge a game based on that as it is such a basic idea and as long as it looks clear, is smooth (especially in how you launch a marble) and is easy to pick up and play, it will be deemed as somewhat successful. The way these games try to stand out from each other is the fluffy little add-ons to the core function. Things like the inclusion of a story, the music, the amount of content and the power ups are the things that make or break games like this. Good add-ons will enhance the core function and make a great, fun game whereas bad add-ons will make the core game clunky, cluttered and confusing.
So, on to those add-ons starting with the story which is present in Sparkle 2 but probably shouldn’t be. What you get in regards to a story is a very pretty looking map with a load of dots on it that you move across to reach the end with each dot representing a level you need to complete. Apparently you are making your way through this mystical world collecting 5 missing keys to unlock something. It isn’t very clear, though the map looks good and there are a couple of well-drawn cut scenes at the point of collecting each key.
Musically it is fine. It doesn’t stand out too much but, during actual game play, the tempo increases and decreases in line with how close or far you are from failing a level. This is a great addition and when you are under pressure, as marbles descend on the hole they are aiming for, and the music tempo starts speeding up and getting louder, it creates real tension, and when you manage to clear the away from the hole a bit, there is a real sense of relief when the music starts slowing down.
Sparkle 2 does, also, come with a decent amount of content in the form of slightly different modes though there is no local or other multi player. The main game has around 90 levels as well as three different difficulties so, to complete the main section you have 270 levels to complete. There are also a few different modes such as survival mode which is about surviving as long as possible and adds another 30 levels or so and there are also a couple other modes in Cataclysm and Challenge mode. In total that probably gives you around 400 levels of different difficulties to play if you want to complete it all and if you are an achievement hunter but despite all this content, really it can and will just feel repetitive after a while.
It is also a little weird that, in order to get to the extra modes you have to start the main game mode and then access different modes through the pause screen rather than them being part of the main menu.
Where Sparkle 2 excels though is the huge amount of power ups that become available to you as you progress through the game. By getting consecutive matches, you can earn certain power ups such as “Flight of the Butterflies” which sets off a stream of butterflies from your launcher back down the chain destroying marbles as they go or “Colour Match” which allows you to shoot a paintball at a collection of marbles changing them all into one colour. There are also power ups that can be unlocked and then attached to your launcher such as, after a certain amount of matches, a Catherine Wheel like explosion of fire balls that take out any marbles they hit. The power ups are vital to success on the harder levels and managing them correctly will be the key to success in these harder levels.
So, as puzzle games go, there is a lot of content, it looks great and sounds fine and the power ups are a great addition. It is smooth and very simple to play while managing to be challenging on harder levels but it has some oddly placed menu choices, a pointless story and will get very repetitive if you plan on completing everything in this game.
This is a great little game at a fantastic price that is perfectly suited for a quick 20 minute blast on a console where you don’t want to delve into a large and complex world. The sort of game you may wind down to. It doesn’t break new ground and isn’t going to inspire new ideas for future puzzle games and instead is just another version of an old format however it does it well and, most importantly, it is fun to play. The developers seem to recognise all of this too in the pricing model. They aren’t claiming this to be more than it is by asking you to part with loads of money so well done to them for being fair too.
The Final Score - 7/10
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