Sparkle Doublepack is a collection of Sparkle 2 and Sparkle Unleashed, which you can download on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Sparkle 2 was released in 2014 and Unleashed was released last year, in 2015. The games are single player marble shooters, making it a fast paced puzzle game. They are both developed and published by 10tons.
The premise is you must shoot out a coloured marble from the centre of the screen into the stream that are constantly coming towards you, matching it with two or more of the same coloured marbles. Whilst this sounds similar to games such as Candy Crush, due to the fact you are matching objects, the difference is that these marbles travel in a single file line, they don’t cover a board. The path they take winds around the screen, so you can hit marbles at the start, middle and the end of the line. However, you have to be cautious that you hit where you’re intending, as the path the marbles are on might take a U-turn, meaning you may hit marbles you weren’t attempting to. If you hit a marble that’s not the same colour as the one you have, it simply joins the line. Mistakes quickly build up if you don’t act fast enough, and as there’s not always just one stream of marbles trying to reach the end of their designated path, you’ve got to keep an eye on all of the screen.
This game can get tense very quickly, with the music speeding up and getting more dramatic the closer the marbles get to their goal. You will start the game feeling calm and thinking it is easy, but by the tenth level you’ll be leaning forward in your seat, concentrating hard. Whilst the music builds tension, the music is basically the same song on repeat, with the tempo changing the closer the marbles get to their target. Due to this repetitive soundtrack, it causes the music to get irritating about 20 levels in, and you may find yourself turning the music off.
When you first start, it can be difficult to pick up the controls, precision wise, but you get the hang of it very quickly. I played through my first three levels using the Dualshock 4 touchpad, and the controls are perfectly fine on that, although it may take a little more practice than the analogue sticks. However, I quickly changed to the sticks to get more precise shots. It’s a good feature, being able to play with the Dualshock 4 touchpad, the supposed equivalent of the Vita’s touchscreen. The games are pretty too, with complimenting colour schemes, making the screen more aesthetically pleasing. There is a range of powerups you can use, but like in most games, some are more useful than others. However, the powerups keep things interesting and you will be thankful when you hit a good one.
Sparkle 2 provides a good list of trophies, including getting high combos and finishing the game on hard and nightmare difficulty. You can also play on different modes, such as survival, which add to the amount of play time you will get out of this game. The different modes and difficulty provide a much-needed change of pace instead of just simply playing the game on story mode.
This doublepack is a great time waster, so you can go and play it whenever you feel like you don’t want to launch an in-depth story. It is also the kind of game you can take on a journey with you, using your Vita and playing it on your way from point A to point B. But it is not the kind of game you rave about or tell your friends is a must buy. Considering its price, which is good for what you get, I would recommend it if you are looking for a fun puzzle game. Whilst I played it on the PlayStation 4, I think it’d be better appreciated on the Vita.
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