Remember those happy days in the playground playing marbles, making sure every shot counted, with the goal of staying alive and being champion, well welcome to Sparkle 2.
You’re welcomed to the game with what can only be described as a bright colourful splash screen and music that could have come straight out of a Disney movie. A swift hit of the A button whisks you into the story because as we know, all good games need a story and sparkle 2 is no exception. A warm voice explains about five keys that have been scattered to the wind and as of yet no one has discovered them. It’s up to you to accept the challenge to try and find them on the promise of once they have been found they will unlock something valuable (their words not mine). So armed with my eagerness for riches and fortune I jump into the game having first checked down the sofa as that’s where my keys normally are, and with the help of the happy-go-lucky musical score written by Jonathan Geer, I enter the world of Sparkle 2.
Sparkle 2 is the sequel to last year’s hit Sparkle Unleashed by 10tons Studio. The game follows on from the original concept where you have to protect one or more holes from an ever increasing snake of bright and colourful marbles. As the marbles move down the path, armed with you own personal marble slinger (controlled by the left thumstick), fire your own marbles (button A) into them. Creating a chain of three or more marbles of the same colour makes them explode and disappear with the aim to remove all marbles before they drop down the hole(s).
The first few levels are easy, letting you get used to the game and even taking you through a basic tutorial. Then the pressure starts to pile up with multiple marble paths to defend and faster marbles being deployed. This makes you have to think quick on your feet and just like being back in the playground, make every shot count as this game in the later stages doesn’t forgive easily.
Luckily you have help on your side in the form of Power Ups like push back, which does what it says on the tin and firestorm, a little power up that destroys a large number of marbles before you’ve had a chance to blink. These are useful but at the same time you need to plan on when to use them and sometimes there’s just not an option with the ever-increasing march of marbles. Along with the power ups you collect as you progress through the levels you also unlock enchantments. These are abilities that you can attach to your marble slinger to alter how it works. A useful one that’s unlocked early is the Speed Boost, allowing you to fire faster or Tranquility, which makes the game easier but the side effect is that the level takes longer to complete.
As you play through all 90 levels (yes 90) you work your way through a colourful story map aiming for specific landmarks that hold one of the magical five keys (or not) all narrated by the mystical voice. The cut scenes are limited but beautifully drawn with the minimal amount of animation to keep your interest in your journey and with the music score setting the scene. I do have to admit after a while the grind does get a little, been there, done that but for some reason the music spurs you on and there is that little voice in your head saying just one more go. I honestly don’t know what they have put in Sparkle 2 but it works and it works well. At one point I thought I had only played for about half an hour to find I had actually been playing for nearly two hours!
Now I won’t tell you what happens when you collect all the keys – that’s for you to find out – but trust me it’s definitely up there in the moments I won’t forget.
Backing up the story mode there are three other options: Survival, Challenge and Cataclysm. Survival as it sounds is where you just have to survive the ongoing onslaught of marbles on one of 32 levels. Challenge is 24 levels of three varying difficulties and the challenge is to complete them all. Finally Cataclysm is total carnage over 20 stages of extended levels. This is the true test for a Sparkle champion.
Sparkle 2 has no multiplayer option but I don’t think it needs one. The game is simple, stunning but unforgiving and will keep you amused for hours even if you aren’t really sure why. This is the sort of game that anyone in your family can walk by and just pick up and play and for only £6.39 you would be mad to pass this by even if you own Sparkle Unleashed or another puzzle shooter equivalent.
Thanks to Xbox and 10tons for their support
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