By: Matthew Striplen
Who doesn’t love a lighthearted puzzle game? Sparkle 2 is a casual marble popper with a few extra goodies sprinkled throughout. For those unfamiliar with the term “marble popper,” chances are if you like mobile or early-to-mid 2000s Flash games, you’ve probably played one before. Think Stone Loops of Jurassica or Suma: The Lost Treasure.
Unlike most entries in this genre, Sparkle 2 has a story, though it doesn’t matter much. Nothing in the story ever affects gameplay, which makes it feel like it was just tacked on.
Gameplay consists of clearing lines of colorful marbles by matching at least three of a kind. By clearing multiple groups in a row, combos are formed and bonuses are awarded depending on the strength of said combo. Most of what sets Sparkle 2 apart from other titles in the same genre are the specific types of power ups. These play a major role in decreasing the difficulty.
After finishing a few levels, upgrades to the marble launcher become unlocked. These range from faster shots to making each stage easier but longer. After completing even more levels, multiple upgrades can be equipped simultaneously.
A few other game modes are available in addition to the main campaign. These include survival and challenge modes. Survival pits the player against an endless stream of marbles until you lose, while the challenge mode faces players with a large number of stages. Each stage must be completed multiple times before it can be completely cleared.
The graphic style is brightly colored and each backdrop makes the colored marbles stand out. Plus, the various power-ups are always accompanied by a flashy effect. The music is a synth orchestral score, and the minimal story is delivered by a narrator. Both the narrator’s performance and music composition are quite nice as well.
As for the controls, everything handles very intuitively. I never once had to think about the controller in my hand, which is the best possible result for any game.
Unfortunately, most of Sparkle 2 poses little challenge. Even once you pass all the easy levels, things don’t heat up too quickly. That being said, there are tons of levels. Between the main campaign, the challenges and survival modes, there is plenty to do. Plus, there’s usually some sort of completion bonus in the form of an upgrade, so maxing out everything is generally worth your while.
Sparkle 2 is a fun, casual game. Although it doesn’t bring anything particularly innovative to the table, the polish of the product demonstrates that simple games can still hold up. If you’re looking for a terrific time-waster, Sparkle 2 is the way to go.