For many gamers marble shooters were traditionally considered mobile games in their purest form; The plot was virtually non-existent, the controls were simple to understand and fiendishly difficult to master and you could pick up and play them in the time it took to ride the train or the bus. Developers 10tons has other ideas.
Spurred on by the critical success of its past two Sparkle games on iOS and Android, 10tons has introduced the title’s third incarnation, Sparkle Unleashed, to the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Leaning heavily towards the ‘it it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school of thought, Sparkle Unleashed looks and feels very much like a mobile game but on a much bigger screen. You play the first 23 levels for free and pay once to unlock the full game which includes 108 challenging levels, Survival mode and two more difficulty settings.
The game consists of a long line of multi-coloured marbles or orbs, a hole or couple of holes at either end of the screen and, at the bottom of the screen, a marble shooter. Your task is to prevent the marbles from falling into the hole by shooting 3 or more of them of the same colour with your marble shooter. You start on one side of the map and work your way through levels lighting braziers as you go along. The braziers in turn give you power ups such as the ability to reverse time that you can use in the game. Simple? You bet? Fun? Yup.
Sparkle Unleashed introduces floating Orb Slinger gameplay never before seen in a Sparkle series game. The unleashed Orb Slinger floats along the bottom of the screen providing a fresh way to experience the gameplay.
There’s also a passing attempt at a plot – something to do with a hidden world of mystery succumbing to an ominous darkness. As you play the game you make your way through the fallen lands, lighting magical braziers and discovering a way to banish the darkness once and for all.
War and Peace it’s not. But all of this quickly gets forgotten as you’re frantically trying to shoot the marbles as they head inexorably towards their final destination. For anyone who has played Zuma on a mobile device or on the Xbox 360 Sparkle Unleashed should be immediately familiar. The gameplay requires some fast reflexes, a touch of strategy and just a few minutes that you want to while away. As mentioned previously, there are a total of 108 areas to conquer with the difficulty level growing steadily as you progress through the game.
Sparkle Unleashed’ s visuals have also made the transition from the smaller screen. The maps are bright, crisp and colourful. Many look very similar to each other but that does little to detract from what is otherwise a pretty damn good-looking game. Our only real gripe was that the in-game audio by award-winning composer Jonathan Geercould could have benefitted from some TLC. The music is pretty repetitive and there are no audio prompts (as you had in Poker Smash or Bejewelled) when you manage to pull off a great shot.
Sparkle Unleashed would also have benefited from a multi-player option allowing two players to put their wits against each other. But perhaps that’s something 10tons can add to their wish list for the next game.
The Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions of Sparkle Unleashed won’t set the gaming world on fire. It’s not meant to. Instead Sparkle Unleashed is a great pick up and play option for those occasional moments when you want to kick back, unwind and lose yourself in a game that doesn’t demand too much from you but does enough to keep you interested. Recommended.
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