We reviewed Sparkle Unleashed back in 2015, the game had an addictive property that kept us playing right to the very end. Out of nowhere came Sparkle 2 and we just had to get involved a second time around. 10 Tons Ltd are at the helm once again, which left us wondering where exactly could they take the series further? After all, the main concept is to shoot a chain of 3 orbs in an attempt to stop the onslaught of oncoming waves falling into the chasm pit of doom.
So what are the main changes? Fortunately if you loved Sparkle Unleashed there is enough in Sparkle 2 to warrant playing through this addictive casual slice once more. Most noticeably there are three features to the game that have added a new layer of strategy and challenge.
Firstly in Sparkle 2 you need to be more precise with your aiming than Sparkle Unleashed, this will stand out immediately as even the earliest levels require more concentration than you did originally to complete levels. Depending on just how much of a casual gamer you are, this may put you off initially, but give the game 10 minutes of your time and you’ll soon adjust. Secondly is the enchantments. You can now power your orb slinger with up to 4 enchantment perks, you’ll add extra enchantment slots the further you go through the game. What do the enchantments do exactly? They’ll give your orb slinger perks which activate either at the beginning of each round or once you fill up your rune reward charger. We didn’t know exactly what the rune reward pickup did to begin with, but essentially the more high powered pick-ups activate directly from your orb slinger towards the end of the level, either getting you out of a mess or helping you progress to the next level in a quicker time. So it’s worthwhile aiming for the rune reward power-ups that appear every 3x chain.
The enchantments themselves are vast, around every 5 levels you’ll unlock a new enchantment which you can mix and match between levels to help give you an advantage on your quest for matching orbs. There is everything from automatically getting power-ups every 9th or 12th orb sling, ones that can destroy multiple orbs at once, whilst others enable you to pick off singular orbs to create combo chains. The other enchantments are modifiers that somewhat change the game, this can range from making the orb slinger faster, making power-ups move closer towards your slinger so they are easier to activate or even making the game easier but at the expense of the levels taking a little bit longer. You’ll want to mix and match four of these perks at once to help you complete the game. The good thing about Sparkle 2 is that some levels will actually have you scratching your head pondering which perks to load to help you best and that is something Sparkle holds over Popcap’s Zuma Title.
The third difference is the progression of the game itself, you now have to collect 5 keys along the way in order to complete the game and these are presented with throwaway cut scenes which you could argue the developers should have done a little more with. Achievements are a lovely blend, most of which can be unlocked at around the 4 hour mark but they have been set up in such a way that they’ll keep you playing the game but also push you to try and master it also. Our favourite is chaining as many different orb pops every shot after shot, it becomes addictive and has you flutter with losing a level in a quest to get the longest chain possible.
Sparkle 2 hasn’t changed much in the visuals department, it still has that mystic wildlife look to it and whilst the game soundtrack is more vast than Sparkle Unleashed you will end up humming the same music regularly throughout the play through. There is something catchy about the music composed by Jonathan Geer that sticks to the mind like putty. Once the story mode is finished there is a challenge and survival mode that will keep you ticking over until such time we see another Sparkle game. Even though collectively we’ve now played over 200 levels between the two titles we have reviewed, we still feel there is room for more. We’re not quite sure why the game is addictive as it is but it’s truly seductive. It’s been responsible for my copy of Guitar Hero Live staying in the cupboard in it’s box unopened for the last few weeks, surely that is a testament to how this game can reel you in.
Overall Sparkle 2 is another satisfying follow-up offering enough new features to take the second plunge, whilst visually it doesn’t compete with Zuma Revenge’s art style it’s the pure mechanics that give the game more depth. It’ll probably be another few years before we play another Sparkle game but we are interested to see what 10 Tons Ltd can throw at us next. Needless to say worth a purchase from the most casual gamer straight through to the most hardcore.