I didn’t expect to have fun with Sparkle 2, and that’s what made it all the better.
Described as a, “match-three marble shooter action puzzle” by developer 10Tons, I was expecting yet another Bejewelled clone ready to take advantage of the Xbox One’s ID@Xbox independent publishing program. Instead, I was presented with a frenzied — yet so very zen — bit of fun. It’s great.
In each of the close to 100 of the game’s levels, you control a marble shooter. All around you lies a path; marbles travel down it to the a clearly defined end. To succeed, you need to shoot marbles at the ever-progressing patch, creating a matching sequence of three of the same colour, to eliminate the marble train before it hits the end of the path. It’s a simple hook, but is it ever a rewarding one.
As you progress, you’ll be given different unlocks to change up the game. One speeds up play, making things chaotic and challenging. Another slows things right down, making it a perfect way to relax after a stressful day. On top of these modifiers are in-round power-ups that assist in clearing out marbles.
Sparkle 2 does feature a story mode, but it’s generally filler and can largely be ignored. It’s not that the text-based story isn’t thrilling, it’s just that I was constantly wanting to continue on to newer, bigger and more challenging levels. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is.
I enjoyed the game so much, I immediately tracked down its predecessor, Sparkle Unleashed, also available on Xbox One. The production values of Sparkle 2 became quite evident in comparison; while the older game certainly is enjoyable, this new one is even moreso. I love that the game’s core mechanic – the marble shooter – was changed from a sliding one in Unleashed to a static one in 2. The change means the game is far more strategic as you need to set up shots from the one position. It forces you to really think and plan out your (literal) angles of attack.
I had very few gripes with Sparkle 2. One is that its catchy soundtrack persistently quit on me, forcing me to play in silence. That was easily remedied with some Spotify thanks to my PC, but the noticeable lack of in-game sound at times did detract from the overall experience. Not enough, though, to really stop me from recommending this charming little puzzle game to anyone and everyone.
The other issue is that 10Tons games aren’t yet available on Xbox One in Australia, though Stevivor’s been told that will soon change. For now, you’ll be required to grab Sparkle 2 on PS4 if you’re itching to play.
Sparkle 2 is currently available on PS4 and heads to Xbox One in North America today. We’ll let you know when the title is available on the Australian Xbox Store.
Sparkle 2 was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One as provided by the publisher on 28 Jan 2016. It was revisited on Nintendo Switch, thanks to a code provided by the publisher.