Match three games have been popular for over a decade now thanks to their addictive simplicity and ultimately their challenge. These types of games come in a few different flavors; some require you to switch adjacent pieces to match three of a color or type (like the Saga series) and others require you to launch a colored object at moving objects to match three or more of a color (like Zuma). Sparkle 2 is in that Zuma category.
Sparkle 2 originally released almost a year ago for iOS and Android smart phones and tablets, and it made its way to PS4 and PS Vita this week (it’s cross-buy too, so perfect for owners of both platforms). As I do not have a Vita, this review squarely focuses on the PS4 version which is a little harder than other versions since it isn’t touch based (you can use the touchpad to aim, although I found that harder than the thumbstick).
There’s a sense of a narrative here, but I can’t say I followed it or even cared for it. You’re basically working your way through levels, where each level represents a day, on a journey through some mysterious land. Occasionally, you’ll come across a setting that’ll trigger a story scene and award you a key before opening up a different path. Does anyone care? I don’t think so.
Sparkle 2 is classic marble shooting. Your objective is simple: launch a colored marble/orb at a moving and growing line of marbles to try to and match three or more of the same color, whittle the lines down, and prevent those marbles from entering a hole in the ground.
As is always the case with this type of game, the first levels are easy as pie. But as you play though, you start getting into areas where the difficulty ramps up considerably. There’ll be four different rows of marbles each moving towards their own hole, and fast speeds. It makes it harder to throw away a useless marble and harder to keep an eye on everything. Poor reflexes or a slight miscalculation on your aiming can doom you during this challenging levels.
Thankfully, there are a number of power-ups and enchantments to try and help you out. Often times you can be on the brink of disaster when you get a power-up that really helps you tremendously and saves the game for you; making the other marbles go backwards, power shots that eliminates a section of the rows, orbs that can be used to connect different colors together, one that will change a large section of orbs to one color, etc. Of course sometimes you can’t hit a power up, and if you try and aren’t fast enough you’ll just end up putting a marble where you didn’t want one (such as a red in between two blues).
There are over 90 levels, but in reality they aren’t all “unique” as claimed. Some levels repeat, with the only difference being more rows and a harder difficulty. Playing through game also unlocks additional mods, like Survival and Challenge, and these offer a little more replay. My favorite of these is Survival, which is an unlimited amount of orbs coming and you have to last as long as you can before they eventually enter the hole. You get star ratings for your performance, and the stars are used to unlock additional stages.
One thing I must say about the game is that it has some great music. Yes, there’s only a couple of pieces, but it is nonetheless great. The music that plays when marbles are getting close to entering the hole is fantastic and reminded me, in a lot of ways, of music that plays during a God of War game.
Graphically, it looks great. The marbles all pop and everything. It’s a simple game so it isn’t graphically intensive, but it made the jump from phones to the big screen really well and performs smoothly.
Sparkle 2 cost $7.99, which is a reasonable price especially since it is cross-buy. There’s a demo available, so if you have any interest whatsoever be sure and take it for a spin and decide if you want to spend the $8 on the game. If you like match three games, and I do, then this is a no-brainer purchase. It doesn’t do anything special, but it is one of those games where you can say “one more level” and end up sinking way more time than you anticipated into it.
Sparkle 2 gets a three out of five: GOOD.
* A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.