Review: Sparkle 2 (PS4/Vita)
This is the PS4’s first real touchpad game.
It feels like only yesterday when I wrote my Vita review on Sparkle. And during that process I kept thinking to myself “I hope 10tons brings Sparkle 2 and more to PlayStation anything.” Here we are, five months later and they’ve done exactly that. Sparkle 2 brings the same long-legged match-3 puzzle gameplay back to Vita…and this time around they’ve included PlayStation 4!
With Sparkle being their first Vita game, followed shortly by King Oddball, they solidified themselves in my mind as a mobile developer that can effectively port their bread & butter iOS and Android titles to a true gaming platform. When they did one better by them upscaling all of King Oddball for PS4, I was delighted and it was a huge step toward offering quality puzzle games to PS4 that didn’t cost an arm and a leg like Angry Birds.
Sparkle 2 is out on Vita and PS4 simultaneously as a Cross-Buy entitled game for just $7 and I can’t recommend it enough. While a tad less dark than the first, Sparkle 2 delivers really sharp and detailed graphics most noticeably on PS4, but also on Vita. More important than visuals is how well the game controls. Just like on Vita, you can use the left analog to aim and a quick or long tap of X to shoot and aim respectively. 10tons took it to another level by including touchpad controls. This is the first game I’ve played on PS4 that utilizes the touchpad in a way that feels perfectly natural and just owns as the only way to play. This is the PS4’s first real touchpad game.
I’m a bit more excited than most to be reviewing Sparkle 2 because I’m admittedly such a huge fan of classic match-3 games from the late ’90s. Bust-A-Move is of course at the tip top on that list. Zuma was great, and while that seems to be the title most will gravitate towards when building their comparison, I’m convinced that Sparkle has what it takes and then some to surpass people’s expectations of a Zuma clone.
Same as before, power-ups, or Enchantments, provide the fundamental gameplay element in Sparkle 2. Although, this time around you can equip the Orb Slinger with up to four Enchantments once about three-quarters through the campaign. Each of the four slots has five unique Enchantments to unlock and choose from. The Enchantments will force the player to focus on matching blue orbs for an assist, or change every 20th orb fired into a Purple Flame shot. Some effect the orb slinger and others effect the orbs themselves. Choosing the right combination for ones play style and the needs of the puzzle in question becomes interesting with all the possibilities.
The music in the game is stellar. It’s cinematic despite the fact that the game itself is far from cinematic. A couple times, my daughter thought I was playing a Pirates of the Caribbean game. I call that high praise for the score to be confused as something from a Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp film. I managed to complete all 100 levels of the campaign on both PS4 and Vita and never once got bored or sick of the soundtrack. It’s not one I’d go and download mind you. It just fit the bill for this type of game perfectly.
In the end, I still feel that Sparkle 2 is best enjoyed on Vita with it’s superb instantly gratifying touch screen controls. Just touching anywhere on the screen fires an orb out in that direction. It’s incredibly satisfying to rapidly take out matching orbs within three or four precisely timed touches. On PS4, the controls I came to use most were to slide my right finger in a circular pattern to aim on the touchpad while firing like the trigger of a gun by way of the L2 button with my left hand. This would also work with R2 for any lefties out there.
I found that keeping my finger always touching the touchpad led to gameplay stopping hand cramps after about 30 levels at a time, but using the analog stick to aim was nowhere near as accurate AND fast. It was only either/or. Holding X would bring up a line guide showing me where I was going to shoot the next orb as soon as I released X. This just doesn’t compete with the floating circle reticule that appears when using the touchpad. Bar none, best touchpad controls I’ve used so far.
One very disappointing element of Sparkle 2 was the supposed story. I would’ve preferred if they’d just left it out. It didn’t seem necessary in the least, even with an impressive voice over. There was far too little there to keep me interested, not really enough to even be considered as an actual story.
The package in Sparkle 2 includes 100 levels in the Normal difficult followed by 100 levels in Hard and eventually (read “never” because it’s too damn hard) 100 more in Experienced. But wait…there’s more. 32 levels in Survival attempting to earn 5 stars completion in each, followed by another 24 Challenge levels each with 3 difficulties brings a grand total of 404 levels to play through if only one time. Except for the fact that you’re getting two platforms to play it on.
Anyone that loves puzzle games in general should be getting Sparkle 2 and have 10tons on their watch list. I loved the first Sparkle, I can’t stop going back to King Oddball, and I enjoyed Sparkle 2 even more than the first two combined. It’s the best quality match-3 on both Vita and PS4 and it’s an incredible value thanks to Cross-Buy.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Familiar match-3 gameplay
- More ways to customize the Orb Slinger over the first Sparkle
- Beautiful landscapes and graphics on PS4
- Fast gameplay and game changing power-ups
- 300 story levels across three difficulties
- Tons more to play in Challenges and Survival levels
- PS4/Vita budget priced Cross-Buy
- Super accurate touchpad/touch screen controls
- Color blind mode
What I Dislike:
- Worthless "story", albeit great voiceover
- PS4 touchpad controls hurt my hands after a short while