Sparkle 2? I didn’t even know there was a Sparkle 1!? Do I need to catch up? Will I be lost amidst an array of in-jokes and deep plot progressions? Is there related media? A selection of hard back books ala Halo perhaps?
The above are all questions that I absolutely didn’t bother asking before playing Sparkle 2, and you know what – it looks like I was right not to bother.
A puzzle game in the same vein as PopCap’s brilliantly addictive, Zuma, Sparkle 2 plays in almost the exact same way – you shoot coloured bubbles (or perhaps they are gems? For the remainder of the review, I’ll stick with bubbles) at a snake made of said coloured bubbles as it slides its way through the stage and towards the exit. As one might expect, it’s your job to match the bubbles via carefully placed shots to ensure that this rainbow coloured collection of bubble based madness is taken down before it can get away.
Unbelievably, there is a story attached to this nonsensical but nonetheless entertaining set-up and is even home to its own voice over, but allow me to assure you – the story is utter mince and completely unnecessary. This is a basic puzzle game that, despite a few changes to the window dressing, essentially plays in the exact same way from start to finish.
With an array of levels stretched across the principle, Story Mode, Survival and Challenge Mode, there is certainly plenty of content here, and those who take to the Bubble-Bobble-esque gameplay will certainly find plenty to like. Problem is; that gameplay never really changes and criminally, there is no local or online multiplayer to speak of. Sure, this is a budget release, but with similar mobile games available at a cheaper price (often at no cost at all) and offering far greater multiplayer offerings, the omission is somewhat damning one.
Still, for those who want to give it a go, the Touch Pad does offer a somewhat unique control scheme that works much better than it should, while a Colour Blind Mode (additional patterns added to the bubbles) shows a level of thoughtfulness often lacking from the majority of modern video games. It obviously won’t affect the majority of gamers, but for those who do suffer from colour blindness, this addition will invariably prove a welcome addition.
The core gameplay, while overly familiar, is solid and largely enjoyable. The learning curve is bang on and the audio/visual design is, well, it’s certainly not offensive. Still, despite the relatively low price point and the array of game modes available, the gameplay does become quickly repetitive due in large to the lack of variety inherent to the design. The lack of local or online multiplayer is obviously a major omission, but if you’re looking for a solidly entertaining puzzle game to wile away a rainy afternoon, you could certainly do worse than, Sparke 2.
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