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Sparkle 2 Review (Vita/PS4)

May 19, 2014 Written by Chandler Wood

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Hi, my name is Chandler and I’m in recovery after being addicted to match three games. Something about the fast paced action and immediate reward of matching three or more objects and having them vanish just sets me off and drives me to keep playing, level after level, match after match, until somehow I’ve spent more time matching three objects than most people have put into Final Fantasy games. It’s a sad state of affairs, and largely the reason I no longer play mobile titles, because I always find myself drawn back to the simplicity and getting caught in a match three rut. I had moved past that part of my life, and never wanted to speak about it again, but then Sparkle 2 came along for review, which is like making a recovering alcoholic the judge at a beer tasting contest.

Sparkle 2 is a match three marble shooter. Think Zuma, minus that weird frog thing in the middle that shoots the marbles. Instead it’s some random marble shooting device. Various colored marbles come down a winding path and you must shoot your colored marbles in order to destroy and prevent them from reach the hole at the end of the path. It’s a very simple concept, so much so that it is right at home in the mobile world, where non-gamers may be tempted to try it out on their phone. In fact, Sparkle 2 released last year on the mobile platform with the Vita and PS4 versions being a port of the mobile title.

I did the majority of my playing on the Vita, as the touch screen makes this game much easier. The PS4 version allows you to use either the touch pad or the analog sticks, but I found that the direct feedback of being able to tap right where I wanted the marble to go was by far my preferred method of control. The short and quick nature of the levels seems to be a lot more at home on a portable platform than on its console big brother. If I’m going to be at home with my consoles, it is much more likely that I will pull out an actual console sized title, and reserve my Vita for playing this.

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Somehow in all my match three playing, I constantly expect there to be some new and surprising element or twist, something to make this match three game stand out above all the rest. Sadly I am left disappointed. The genre still hasn’t changed much and if you’ve played Zuma, then you’ve pretty much played Sparkle 2. There are power-ups called enchantments that can be earned and equipped to offer different benefits during play, but as soon as you find the enchantments that you like, playing with them equipped becomes basically status quo.

Sparkle 2 boasts “over 90 levels”, when in all actuality there are about a third of that. More often than not levels would repeat, only  this time with faster speeds and added colors of marbles. I’m sorry to say that I don’t count increasing difficulty as a whole new level, so I would revise that statement to “Sparkle 2 boasts around 30 levels, with varying difficulties”. There are also Survival and Challenge modes to be unlocked, but based on my time with them, they were simply excuses to get you back in and playing the same levels that you went through in the story mode and did not offer anything new or different to what I had already been playing.

There is some sort of story in Sparkle 2, wherein somehow shooting marbles enables you to travel the mystical land to gain five mystical keys that unlock the ability to shoot marbles at even more marbles in another level. Can we just accept that match three titles don’t need a story? As unnecessary as the narrative was, I do have to say that the main characters in Sparkle 2 were all very colorful and well-rounded (I’m seriously cracking up over how great I think that joke is).

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As much as I kid around, the match three styling of gameplay is well executed in Sparkle 2 with marbles accurately disappearing each time that you match three or more of them on the board, and power-ups offering effective bonuses that can get you out of some very close calls. Difficulty ramps up quickly, and I honestly don’t know how it is even possible to beat the game on the hardest difficulty that is unlocked after completing the game once. That’s all the gameplay that there is to Sparkle 2, and while it isn’t anything groundbreaking, it does what it is trying to do pretty well overall.

Hi, my name is Chandler and I’m over my addiction to match three games. Sparkle 2 is yet another match three marble shooter that isn’t trying to change the saturated genre, but rather offer a solid imitation of what is already present. Enchantments offer a fun little twist on the traditional gameplay, but ultimately still screams ‘match three marble shooter’. The story aspect feels a little bit forced and awkward and level selection is limited, but if you are absolutely dying for a match three game on your Vita and/or PS4, Sparkle 2 is an ok experience that feels just like the match three titles of yesteryear that gave me some fun for a few hours, and yet is not enough to draw me back in to my old habits.

Review copy provided by publisher. Review done on Vita version. Available for cross-buy on PS4 and Vita. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.

5.5
  • The game works.
  • Solid imitation of a match three experience.
  • Enchantments offer a small gameplay twist.
  • It's been done before.
  • Limited level and mode selection get repetitive.
  • Forced story.