Sparkle is a brand new game from 10tons & MythPeople, and it’s a full port of their PC game. It’s a new marble (orb) shooter for the App Store, that is fixed position (Zuma) rather than a bottom scroller (Luxor/Stoneloops). You tap where you want the orb to go, trying to match three orbs of the same color that are in chains moving along a fixed path.
There is a story to go along with the marble shooter just as Azkend has a story to go with the match three. You are in Crowberry Woods, and a darkness (like the black smoke monster from Lost) is taking over the lands. It’s up to you to journey into the woods, and use your orb slinging prowess to collect magical runes, and send the darkness back in its hole.
Three gameplay modes are included to test you marble popping prowess. The heart of the game is the quest which presents a whole map to traverse to various landmarks collecting amulets and magical runes along the way.
Challenge mode presents each of the level designs with four progressive difficulties, and your goal is beat each one in the fastest time. Finally survival mode is an attempt to last as long as possible using each of the various amulets. In total there are 20 different levels layouts that you see a couple times in the quest, and complete all of them in challenge.
There are ten amulets, and six magical runes to collect on your journey. The quest has two unlockable difficulties past default, and is full of tons and tons of levels spanning an entire map. A deluxe achievement and stat system is included to keep track of everything you do in the game. For controls it's tap to fie, and tap on the shooter to swap orbs.
Sparkle has the great match three marble shooter gameplay, and with the fixed position mold which hasn’t been represented very well in the App Store to date. It’s high fun shooting at orb chains that travel around you in such a way so they layer over each other and prevent you from having a shot at every orb on screen.
All of the 20 layouts are challenging, and as you progress in any of the three modes the number of chains, and the speed they roll in at will increase. The difficulty curve seems to progress perfectly so it never feels to easy, and prepares you so you’re never overwhelmed, but still challenged. Luckily the game has plenty of power-ups because you will need them as chains are quickly approaching the hole of darkness.
Power-ups do everything from the basic backwards, slow down, paintbrush, accuracy, and joker orb, to the more complex purple blast, ice ray, and moon beam. Plus there are fire bolts to selectively destroy orbs as well as fireflies that rearrange orb chains for better combos, and finally marching light that emanates from the center destroying orbs as it goes.
This is the most enjoyable marble shooter yet in the App Store, including Stoneloops. There is action, challenge, and puzzle elements all equally included that no other one marble shooter shares.
Just playing the entire quest once going through a deluxe map collecting all of the magical runes will make the game easily worth the price of admission. It’s set up so you’ll want to complete it too. Then you have two other gameplay modes to enjoy, and can even replay the quest on higher difficulties. Online connectivity isn't included, but it's usually just a fluff feature for most games that lack traditional quality and replayability.
The game is absolutely oozing with polish in every single aspect of the game. From the first time you see a orb chain roll out you are instantly amazed at the beauty of each orb with intricate patterns on every one, and each with their own sheen. Through the entire game there are 20 different designed layouts with each one ornately designed.
The power-ups are truly a sight to be seen from the explosion of an ice ray or purple blast to the moon beam asteroid type attack. On level completion a purple streak flys through the course pushing the darkness back in its hole. Each match three pops out glitter, and overall everything does in deed sparkle.
The soundtrack is extremely deluxe with a magical theme like John William’s score from the Harry Potter films. When a chain is approaching the hole of darkness the music switches to a much more dower tone of desperation. The sound effects are done just as well from the pop of matches to all the various power-ups when collecting and using them.
The game doesn’t even have a scoring system. For those marble shooter players that plan out long combos, and achieve big chains they may be disappointed without a score to show that skill off. Instead every level is about completion, and you will need combos and chains to do so, irrelevant if it’s scored or not. The mechanic helps make the game more strategy/puzzle driven, and having less of an arcade feel like the genre as a whole, which is a nice change of pace.
Also a problem is that there is no online connectivity what so ever. No online high scores or achievements, and instead everything is local. The good thing is that there is so much to do, and it’s centered around the single player local achievement of completing the quest.
Another slight problem is that there is only one control method. It’s always nice to have a choice, even if the default works great. When you're in really close quarters with a power-up right by the launcher sometimes the game picks up that you're switching orbs rather than firing.
Sparkle has taken over the throne as best marble shooter in the App Store, which has been vacant since Stoneloops had the crown ripped off its head. It’s an engaging and enjoyable experience that will have you wanting to complete the intricately deluxe quest. The production values are some of the best seen and heard in the App Store that adds even more to the overall engrossing experience.
Sparkle is a must buy for $2.99, and the game truly does ‘Sparkle’.