Sparkle – Review (Vita)

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*This piece originally appeared on TheSixthAxis and can be viewed HERE*

10tons games have their 10th anniversary this year and have decided to bring some of their back catalogue titles over to the Vita to celebrate. The first of these is Sparkle, a puzzle game released back in 2007 that tells the story of Crowberry Woods.

The Woods have fallen under the darkness of evil forces. It’s up to you to work your way through the Woods and find what you need to save the forest and its people. To do so you must match coloured orbs in batches of three to progress. You can use the right stick to throw your orbs, but I found it more intuitive to use the touchscreen, tapping wherever you want the orb to land. Rather than the traditional top to bottom orb descent, in Sparkle the orbs flow through a snake-like maze around the screen.

I’ve never really been a fan of this type of game, but having the orbs move in this way freshened things up for me and it definitely adds to the pressure while playing. There are some levels where you will have two sets of orbs both snaking in different directions, which certainly adds to the challenge!

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However, Sparkle isn’t too challenging overall, and it mainly stays on the fun side of things – I think I lost one round in the opening thirty levels before finally running out of lives around level forty-five, and even when you do ‘die’ you are only put back to your last checkpoint. Sitting alongside the main story mode there are also ‘Challenge’ (time trial) and ‘Survival’ modes to keep you playing.

To help you on your way, there are various power-ups you can acquire by chaining together combos. For example, you may be able to change a bunch of orbs to all one colour or send out a blast that makes orbs disappear. In addition to that you’ll also have a permanent upgrade that you can earn via Amulets – these also come with different abilities but they are broader in scope, last the entire round and can only be worn one at a time. These covers things like throwing orbs twice as fast or getting an extra orb slot on your ‘slinger.’

Whilst I enjoyed the gameplay I was a bit disappointed with the story mode overall. To have a vibrant and colourful game during play only to be greeted, for the most part, by text on a dark background between levels didn’t inspire me to continue playing. I felt that even a few hand drawn or animated backgrounds to accompany the text would’ve made a huge difference.

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The other issue here is price, and it’s once again a port that raises the question – how much more will you pay for a game that costs £1.99 on itunes? I feel £1.99 is a fair price for this title so to see it priced at £3.99 was a bit of a surprise. Having said that I suppose it is all down to what you get out of it – if you loved the original and fancied working your way through the trophies on this version then perhaps you’d be happy to pick it up. There is also a free demo up on the store for you to try.

Sparkle is a good puzzle game that I enjoyed playing. I’m not sure it warrants a purchase at £3.99, but fans of the genre should enjoy this and perhaps will be willing to overlook the increased cost to play on the platform of their choice.

Score: 7/10

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