Sparkle Unleashed is a great little game to take on the road, provided that you don’t already have something similar installed on your handheld. A cross-buy on PS4 and Vita, we look at the Vita version.
The gameplay basics in Sparkle Unleashed will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played games like Zuma or Luxor – those games have been around for over 10 years and the concept hasn’t changed much: an ever-growing string of colored orbs snakes it way across the screen towards you, and when it reaches you it’s game over. Luckily you’re now completely powerful in the face of impending doom. You get offered randomly colored orbs that you can shoot towards said string, and if you manage to line up 3 or more orbs of the same color, they disappear.
You’ve by now probably guessed that Sparkle Unleashed leans towards the casual end of the gaming spectrum, and may have identified the gameplay as a version of “match 3”. You’d be right in both cases, but the Vita platform isn’t spoiled for choice in this regard. With Sparkle and Sparkle 2 also on the Vita, you could say that developer/publisher 10tons has this part of the market cornered. So what’s new in Sparkle Unleashed? The short story: not that much. The somewhat longer version: 10tons didn’t mess with a winning formula and added some subtle nuances to the gameplay on top of some audiovisual polish.
In terms of gameplay, several new types of challenges had been added. There may only be two basic gameplay types (Story and Survival), but contained therein are a few gameplay tweaks that include orbs that are chained together and can only be elimated from the game board as a group. To help you, you also have 18 power-ups at your disposal, ranging from the usual (freezing the stage for a short time) to the original (starring butterflies!). Using these powerups at the right time and in the right way is the key to success in some of the later levels, adding a small layer of strategy to how you play.
The experience spans a whopping 108 levels and is backed up by an excellent soundtrack, with music that is a perfect companion to this type of game. There’s an air of magic and mystery behind it all, which fits the fantasy setting of the “story” very well. While Sparkle Unleahsed won’t win many points for originality, it deserves high marks for its execution. If you’re a fan of the Sparkle franchise and you already own Sparkle or Sparkle 2 then consider how similar this may be to what you already own, but if you enjoy a casual game every now and then and haven’t played Sparkle yet, then Sparkle Unleashed is a perfect starting point.