With it’s release of Sparkle on PS Vita, developer 10tons covered a genre that hasn’t had much exposure on Sony’s handheld. The match-3 puzzle game. The first title was very much in the same mould as Luxor and Zuma and the follow up is yet again a pretty much by the numbers game.
In terms of the core mechanics of the game, it is as you would expect. Various coloured orbs follow a specific track around a level and you shoot out matching orbs to try and destroy them. It has been done before and will be copied again down the line. There are a few nice touches here though that do make Sparkle 2 a game worth your attention.
Firstly the game as a bit of a story to follow, which isn’t overly deep or really worth taking note of, but it does allow for a structure to progress and receive various unlocks and bonuses which make sense along the story’s path. The different power-ups you get take on two forms.
First up are the regular power-ups you will get as you play a level, for every 3rd consecutive match you make, a power-up will appear which you can collect and then use to your advantage. These are the usual types, slowing down the orbs on the path, sending them backwards, wild orbs that can match any selection of orbs, whether their colours match or not and so on.
The other type are the permanent power-ups, which can be attached to your orb slinger to enchant it. These range from a power-up that gives you a special type of shot for every ten shots made, to others that will make getting the regular power-ups easier to get.
At the start of the game you have no slots and no permanent power-up available. But for every few levels you complete a new power-up is made available and sometimes a new slot so you can have multiple permanent power-ups at the same time. These prove to be very useful as the game progresses, because Sparkle 2 is a very challenging game, with later levels testing your skills and patience.
There is a fairly decent amount of content available too, with over 90 levels in the main story mode alone, which can then be completed in three different difficulty settings. Aside from that there are also a series of survival modes and challenge levels, which again will really test your abilities and add real value to the game.
As seems to be the trend at the moment, Sparkle 2 is a Cross-Buy title for both PS4 and PS Vita and although the Vita version felt the most natural way to play, the PS4 version is still competent and tries to add some new ideas. The Touchpad on the Dual Shock 4 can be used like a mousepad on a laptop and is meant to offer better control and whilst it feels a bit alien to start with it did become more natural the more it was used.
Another neat addition is the use of the light bar on the Dual Shock 4, with it changing colour based on the coloured orb currently loaded into the orb slinger. It doesn’t have any real practical use, but it was fun to see for a brief moment and again good to see a developer trying to add that something different.
That said, the Vita version really did feel the ideal home for Sparkle 2 and it is where most of the time was spent playing. It would have been nice to chop and change between both versions, but again the lack of Cross-Save on a Cross-Buy title means you really need to choose a format and stick with it. Hopefully Cross-Save is something that will become standard down the line, but as it stands it is another title that feels like you get an option to choose at the start and then stick with.
When that is the only real complaint though, you know a game is doing something right and despite Sparkle 2 being very similar to the likes of Luxor, it does stand up in its own right and is a great little title to play. It ticks all the right boxes and leaves you feeling satisfied, which is what you want from a decent puzzle game.