Sparkle Unleashed is sort of a spin-off of Sparkle 2. Not to be confused with Sparkle 2: Evo, Sparkle 2 was a marble shooter from 10tons, not the evolution simulator from Forever Entertainment. Slightly confusing, for sure. Marble shooters are on the more casual side of genres, they don’t appear too often on gaming stores these days but there is an audience for them, even if they’re not for me personally.
Whereas Sparkle 2 had a fixed shooting position that could be rotated on an axis, Sparkle Unleashed is just that. The shooter has become free, free to roam along the bottom of the screen. You’d think that wouldn’t change up much, but it does actually. You have more accuracy this way I believe.
This marble shooter business is basically a slightly different take on the match-3 puzzler. A varied mishmash of different coloured orbs wind their way around the screen in a snake-like fashion and your shooter is equipped a ball of a selected colour. The idea is to shoot that ball to create three in a row of the same colour. Doing that will make them disappear and potentially create combos if the orbs on either end make three too.
There are a couple of extras thrown in as spanners to the works. Some orbs are actually rocks which can’t be matched, instead you get rid of them by matching adjacent coloured orbs. Then there are the chained orbs which are standard colours but need to be matched twice in order to get rid of them, once to break the chain, the second to destroy the orb. Honestly, they didn’t present much trouble at all.
What I did like were the power ups you can get. You can be awarded power-ups if you get three consequential matches, you don’t instantly get it however, you have to pick it up by shooting another marble at it. At the beginning there aren’t many different power ups, you’ll have a wimpy fireball as such, but the more you progress in the game you can choose to unlock or upgrade the power ups you have. It won’t be long until you’re blasting big chunks out of the orb snake, pushing them backwards or even changing their colours to make them easier to match. Even if you’re good at this type of game, you’ll probably need to pick these power ups and use them since the game can be difficult without them.
There’s a wealth of levels to complete, over a hundred, plus a survival mode and a few different difficulty levels which is solid value for what you get. Each level could last you about five minutes, or so, and that’s if you complete it at the first attempt. It can be fairly difficult if you’re unlucky with which colour balls you get to shoot and if you make a couple of small errors. In that regard, the affordable $7.99, is perfectly acceptable for what you get.
I do take issue with the presentation though. It seems like all the marble shooters seem to go for the same visual style and I can’t say I approve. It looks too cheap and a little outdated, looking like a marble shooter from 10 years ago. I think I would have appreciated it more if they’d have gone for something riskier or more stylish. The music is a solid effort though, as is usually the case with 10tons’ titles.
And with that, there’s not much more to say about the game. Overall, Sparkle Unleashed is a solid game. Its mechanically sound and there’s very little issue with it. Of course there’s the fact I found it okay but a little dull, but then again, this isn’t the game for me. Casual gamers will lap this up. My wife, who generally doesn’t enjoy video games was hooked by Sparkle Unleashed and I suspect this could be a nice introduction to games for family members. It could have been presented in a more visually interesting way, but for who it’s aimed for, it doesn’t need to be. Sparkle Unleashed is recommended for its target audience.
Game provided by 10tons.