Game Review: Sparkle 2 (Switch)

Back in 2013 developer 10Tons released their debut PS Vita title, Sparkle, a marble busting game that attempted to be different by adding a story and magical powers, and quite frankly I liked it. Fast forward to 2014 and 10Tons released its sequel, Sparkle 2, onto the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita which built upon the foundations of the original.

Now, three years later, 10Tons are back with its Nintendo Switch port; and this time it combines everything I loved about the original with High Definition visuals and fast-paced marble busting to deliver one of the best releases of the game to date. How exactly? Well let’s take a look in our Review!

  Title: Sparkle 2
Publisher: 10Tons Ltd
Developer: 10Tons Ltd
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Audio: English
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (108mb)

Our View:

Let’s start at the beginning; Sparkle 2 is a continuation (of sorts) to original mobile and PS Vita release Sparkle, and as such the gameplay, controls, rules and even the music (to a certain extent) remain similar as its predecessor;  but don’t let this put you off the game as while the fundamentals are the same the overall experience is a lot better.

To start off with the game immediately throws you into the main campaign mode, a campaign which sees the player search the land in an attempt to find five keys, whereby upon collecting these keys players will be given access to an invaluable treasure. Compared to the original Sparkle it’s a much-more ‘enticing’ storyline as the question of “what will this invaluable treasure offer” keeps popping up in the players head (or it did for me at least).

Of course the story is just an excuse to keep gamers playing the game, as marble busting games (such as this) do not really need a story; but it’s still nice to see 10Ton’s doing something different and it works exceedingly well.  Another major difference is that unlike other marble-busting games Sparkle 2 does not feature a scoring system – instead each level is tracked by filling up the lights on the marble shooter. Once all of these have been filled, and the remaining marbles cleared, players can progress forward to the next level. It’s different; but in a good way.

Like I mentioned previously ths game immediately throws you into the campaign mode, and unlike its predecessor there isn’t a main menu to choose between the different gameplay options either. Instead the main menu is located within the main campaign mode and upon pausing you’ll have the option to access the Survival, Challenge Mode and Cataclysm Modes (when unlocked) or view the games achievements and stats.

At beginning you’ll only be able to play the campaign, but after completing 10 levels within the Main Campaign mode the Survival mode will become accessible from an icon on the main menu. Additionally gameplay modes, such as Challenge and Cataclysm, will also become unlocked by progressing through the game with each mode offering something a little bit different.

The Survival mode for instance will see players continuiously busting marbles until they become overwhelmed with the difficulty increasing after a set number of marbles have been busted. Unlike a traditional survival mode players will be graded on their performance with additional levels becoming unlocked after receiving a set number of stars. Challenge mode meanwhile will allow players to replay older levels at various different difficulty levels.

Gameplay modes aside; the world map is similar to that within the first game, a map of the entire world, but in hindsight it’s just a carefully concealed level select screen. For instance each level is labelled as a ‘day’ and to offer a bit of variety players can choose where to go next when they reach certain ‘cross-roads’ in the path. For the most part it’s a ‘fixed’ path, but at the same time it’s this deception of decision making that adds a unique spin to level selection.

Unfortunately once a level (or day) has been completed it is impossible to go back and replay; which seems like a slight oversight from a highly replayable game such as this. Fortunately players can, once unlocked, replay levels through the games Survival & Challenge but (once again) levels will have to be unlocked by playing through this mode rather than the main campaign so you’ll end up beating the same level several times before being able to replay a later level.

When it comes to gameplay however Sparkle 2 remains exactly the same as its predecessor, with only tweaked controls and improved visuals to make it a notably different gameplay experience. The objective of each level also remains the same, whereby players must get rid of all the marbles that appear on screen before they reach the black hole or in some instances two or three black holes.

This feat of destroying the marbles before they reach the black hole is achieved by firing the correct coloured marbles into the ever descending line, and when three (or more) of the same coloured marble is achieved then they will disappear.

By repeating this motion players can create combos, and when combos reach the intervals of 3 (such as x3, x6, x9 etc) new power-ups will be awarded. Just like the original Sparkle these particular power-ups will only last for a short period of time and vary in what they can do.

For instance the colour changer power-up changes nearby marbles to a certain colour, while the spark shot power-up will shoot various fireballs across the map. My personal favourite is the wind power-up which pushes the marbles back in order to help you; but alas each power-up is just as useful as the next.

These ‘in-level’ power-ups are not the only power-ups available within the game, as power ups can be equipped and used within each level. Unlike ‘in-level’ power-ups these equipped power-ups will award the player with powers that last the duration of the entire level. These particular power-ups are unlocked by completing levels, and after a selective number of levels are completed (usually three or five) a new power-up will be awarded.

For example one of the power-ups allows the line of marbles to move at a slower rate, but it increases the amount of marbles that need to be destroyed. It’s about finding the right balance, as nearly all of the power-ups have some sort of alternate effect – some of which make the game that much harder but give great bonuses.

The beauty with Sparkle 2 is that it retains all of the entertaining merits that the original had but expands it with more power-ups, varying level designs, a deeper storyline and improved visuals; which in hindsight is everything that a sequel should do and the same can be said with this Nintendo Switch release which is fully compatible in both dock and tablet mode.

In Dock mode you can either use the Joy-Con controller (as a controller or single joy-con) or a Pro Controller to control the marble shooter (with the analog stick controlling the position and the input buttons firing the marble). In handheld mode you can either shoot marbles using the same control method as dock mode or by touching the screen. Whichever control option you prefer to use they are all accessible and easy to use; with the touch screen option proving (at times) to make the game easier to play as you do not need to aim (just simply tap where you want the marble to go).

Sparkle 2 was already a great game when it launched onto the PS4 and PS Vita all those years ago; but this Nintendo Switch port further refines and perfects the gameplay experience to deliver one of the best (if not the best) marble-busting game to date and one that can be played both on the go and at home. Smooth fast-paced marble busting gameplay and a mesmerising soundtrack is what Sparkle 2 has to offer; and it finds a perfect home on the Nintendo Switch.

Score: review-stars-4

Sparkle 2 is now available for the Nintendo Switch via the Nintendo eShop. Sparkle 2 is also available for the PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One and PC.

 

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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