XB1 Review: Sparkle Unleashed

Watch out for all those balls!

Watch out for all those balls!

By: Quinn Potter

Behold Sparkle Unleashed, a simple, sweet game of shooting marbles to get the youngest of gamers onto the Xbox One. Fire orbs, line up three of the same color and watch them get eliminated so you can move up to a new level. Add clean graphics with a smooth, orchestral soundtrack and you’ll have an afternoon’s entertainment to charm young and old alike.

CONTROLS (4/5)

There are only three controls for the whole game. B will change the color of the orb you are firing, A is fire, and Y turns auto-aim on and off. You can’t re-map the controls, which would have been an improvement. In most games, players use RT to fire, so that would have been a nice option.

The aiming reticule is a little hyper-sensitive. When toggling from side to side, it’s far too easy to move past your desired lineup for a proper shot at an orb.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4.5/5)

Super-clean graphics with sharp, colorful details give a positive impression. The orbs that you must line up and eliminate are a nice, polished surface with a ton of intricate details. The backdrops for these orbs, however, are not richly detailed, but rather standard in their effects — though the focus for the player is really the orbs here, not the bland path or grass.

One downside to graphics is the map. This map quickly pops up to mark changes in levels. It is disappointingly simplistic. In fact, it looks like it was copied from a Dora the Explorer book.

High props for the lush, high-quality soundtrack. It might just be the best feature of this game. Forget the repetitive, bass-driven, computer-generated loop you’ll hear in other games. This is more like something you’ll hear from a major movie studio. It is a fun, layered, orchestral approach to gaming and is downright enjoyable. There’s a vague reference to the music of the Harry Potter movies here, with the magical backdrop as a theme throughout the whole game.

GAMEPLAY (4.5/5)

The premise is fairly simple. Your primary goal is to line up three orbs of the same color so they will be eliminated. As you shoot orbs into the line, you can press B to switch colors and A to fire. Once all the orbs of a level have been eliminated, you will move to a new day/stage. There are 108 levels to complete and they get progressively more difficult as you go.

There are different types of orb puzzles that you have to solve to properly eliminate them. Red-hot magma orbs can only destroyed by matching three of a kind to the left or right of them. Orbs can be locked with a chain, which basically provide a shield. To eliminate them, you’ll have to line these locked orbs up in lines of three twice:  once to break the chain and once to eliminate them.

As you progress, you’ll have more orbs to eliminate. This additional challenge is balanced out by additional powers, however. To start, you’ll have two power-ups: frost (which slows the orbs down) and firebolt (two shots, each one destroys a single orb).

Every few levels, you’ll get to choose a new power-up. Some of the options are purple flames (destroys multiple orbs of different colors), spark shots (five sparks, each destroying one orb), moving orbs backwards and decay orb (also destroys multiple orbs of different colors).

After level 20, a new game mode is introduced. Instead of eliminating all of the orbs, you’re simply trying to survive for a specific amount of time. At Day 22, it takes seven stages (instead of four) to get to a new brazier (and unlock a new power-up).

OVERALL (4.5/5)

Releasing Sparkle Unleashed on the Xbox One is a clever move for 10tons Ltd. because they’ve truly created the perfect afternoon for young and old alike. The youngest of gamers will enjoy firing orbs to match colors and watch them be eliminated. The grandparents will enjoy napping to the high-quality orchestral soundtrack. Nothing violent, scary or complicated here. Just a way to virtually shoot marbles. Joy all around.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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