When it comes to indie games, PS4 and PS Vita certainly do have their fair share of titles now. I like playing them on both as when I’m home, I enjoy playing them more a larger TV, but on the go, nothing beats playing on a PS Vita with the option of using either touch or hardware controls. The latest game I’ll be looking at is Sparkle 2, from indie developer 10tons. You may remember another 10tons game that was released for both these platforms a while back called King Oddball, which we reviewed as well. This game is being released today on both PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, but it’s not a new game at all. Sparkle 2 actually came to other platforms a while back and while the latest game in the Sparkle franchise is really Sparkle Unleashed, 10tons thought it would be a better idea to release Sparkle 2 first as it is a more traditionally styled marble shooter, which isn’t a bad thing considering what a solid game this is.
Disclaimer: For this review, 10tons sent over both PS4 and PS Vita digital versions of the game to look at. For the most part, both games are identical except for a few control differences.
Surprisingly, there’s a rather interesting story hidden behind all that gameplay. It goes a little something like this…Long ago, there five enchanted keys created that were rumored to open a lock which held something of great value. However, these five keys were lost and scattered across the lands never to be found. Your quest though is to find these keys and discover what secret they are keeping locked up.
As you progress through the game, you’ll come across sections of narrative that dig deeper into this mystery. It’s an interesting aspect of the game that helps break it up a bit a give some insight as to why you’re actually playing this game. It’s not much, but I found it rather interesting and honestly did want to discover what these five keys unlocked.
Sparkle 2 is very easy to pick up and play and just about anyone at any age can just jump right in. For the most part, it’s a match 3 type of a game, just with moving marbles that you have to shoot. The marbles travel along a set path on a rail so you’ll always know where they’ll go but you must make sure to aim carefully with your orb slinger to make matches. Each match you make will add to your combo multiplier with each 3 consecutive matches creating a power up. As you progress through the game, you’ll discover new power up that will be available for you to use.
As you progress through the game, you’ll also be able to augment your orb slinger with special powers that will help you progress through the game. You can augment it with things like faster orb shooting, slower marble movement, special power ups after a certain number of moves, etc. Just choose which you use wisely as there are some levels where certain augments work better than others. All of this makes for one of the best marble shooting games I have played in a long time, one that requires tons of skill and thought while you play as well as quick reactions.
Controls on the PS4 and PS Vita versions are generally the same except that on the PS Vita version, you can use the touchscreen to aim and shoot at the same time. Just tap where you want the marble to go and it goes there. On the PS4, you can also use the touchpad to aim and push down to shoot, but it’s not quite the same as it’s not as accurate. Of course if you want, you can control both using the standard thumbstick and face buttons.
- Superbly polished premium action puzzle gameplay
- Spectacular powerups and special effects
- Three game modes: Story, Survival, and Challenge
- More than 90 levels throughout the storyline
- Exciting locations to discover
- Professional voice overs in story scenes
- Soundtrack by the award-winning composer Jonathan Geer
Now when you’re done playing the main story, you’ll be able to unlock Hard and Nightmare difficulty levels. Not only that, there are two other game modes that become available for you to play. You get a new survival mode and a new challenge mode. The survival most is basically to see how long you can last for on different maps. You start off with only a couple but can unlock more as you play. The goal is to survive as long as possible, but it’s really to survive as long as you can in order to get 5 stars. Five staring a level means unlocking new one. In challenge mode, the object here is to try and beat each difficulty setting on each map. Again, only a handful are available at first and the reset have to be unlocked.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics in this game are very good for the type of game it is. It’s not a graphically intensive game, but what it does have looks fantastic. The graphics are vibrant and colorful, marbles have a very realistic look and feel to them, and there are some really good lighting effects included as well. The PS4 version obviously has a slight upper hand in terms of crispness and realism, but the PS Vita version doesn’t look too bad either. On the PS4 version, the backgrounds have way more detail in them but that’s to be expected as you’re playing it on a much bigger screen.
On the audio side of things, the game is actually pretty lively. There isn’t a moment that goes by when you don’t hear some kind of sound effect or ambient music. The music is very good here and has a calming type effect on your even though the game itself can get quite hectic the further you get. It helps keep your mind focused on what you need to do by keeping you calm instead of hyper excited. As for the sound effects, we get sounds like marbles clanking together, explosive sounds made by power ups, and the sound of the marbles rolling on rails. Pretty much anything to make this game as realistic as possible, it’s in here.
Sparkle 2 plays pretty much the same on both PS4 and PS Vita. The difference here is that the touch enabled controls on the PS Vita make the game a bit more accurate and fast. On the PS4, you can either aim with the stick or use the touch pad to aim more accurately, but it still doesn’t end up being as accurate and fast as it is on the PS Vita. The game is still very fun though regardless of which system you decide to play it on and because the game features cross-buy, you can play it on either no matter which system you originally bought it for. There is no cross-save feature though, so you’ll in essence have to play the game twice.
As far as marble shooters go, this is one of the best ones I have played. The graphics are really good, the gameplay is solid with lots of fun and challenges, and the story line is actually pretty interesting. I also really like the addition of the challenge and survival modes to extend the longevity of the game.
As a bonus, if you have kids, Sparkle 2 makes for a wonderful family friendly game. It’s a great thinking game for them and all a great way for them to train their hand-eye coordination.
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