The match three genre isn’t a place where there are revolutionary changes in gameplay. The good ones can be downright addictive as you try to make things disappear as you launch an orb at similar orbs, which can lead to a huge chain of things vanishing or trapping you as the targets shift into more difficult combinations. Sparkle 2 doesn’t bring anything essentially new to the genre but it’s a decent game in its own right.
Sparkle does have one difference though and that is the inclusion of a story, one which serves as more of a way to advance through levels than anything else. The plot concerns itself with five keys spread across a map which you must acquire by beating the levels, by blasting the orbs that come your way. There’s some narration that makes itself known when you reach a place where a key is supposed to be, telling you about the place. It’s rather monotonous though, as if the actor himself were a bit bored of the script.
There are 92 levels to complete in this quest for keys, though many stages do repeat themselves with different parameters introduced, such as a new colour being introduced or the orbs moving faster, which in turn steadily makes Sparkle 2 more of a challenge. To help with the rising difficulty you’ll be awarded different enchantments to improve the launcher, as well as other advantages in the game such as making the orbs move slower. You can mix and match your launcher build, with up to four enchantments being allowed to be equipped, though once you find the combination you’re comfortable with you’ll probably stick with it.
The time it takes to complete a level can vary from around a minute to up to seven, especially in later stages, and you’ll lose quite a lot due to how frantically quick new orbs get introduced the further you advance through the game. The aim is to stop the orbs falling down a hole though some levels have two or three of them, which means you have to keep an eye on different orb threads as they snake themselves around the paths.
Outside of the main quest there are also the Challenge and Survival modes. The first offers different objectives for you to complete, though it doesn’t really differ from the main game. Survival mode is a mode where you have to survive for as long as possible as there is no end to the line of orbs heading straight to the black hole. It’s a decent challenge that gets harder as you progress.
On the PS4 you can control how you fire the orbs by either using the left analog to aim and R2 to fire, or by using to touch pad to do the same. I found myself preferring the touch pad, though it isn’t without its problem. In Sparkle 2 you can switch the orbs in your launcher around by pressing circle, but the touch pad also has that function. However when aiming and firing the orbs would sometimes switch when I wanted to fire , which meant shooting the wrong orb. It would have been better to keep that action keyed to just one button. On the Vita though the touch controls are perfectly fine.
Visually both versions look really nice and the animations are smooth, from the firing of orbs to the various power ups you can acquire in the game. These power ups can be things like slowing down the action for a few seconds to firing explosives to destroy a chunk of the orbs, and add another layer of tactical play. The music is also good but there are only a few tracks that repeat over and over, eventually getting stuck in your head. The PS4 LED also changes colour depending on which orb is present in the launcher.
Sparkle 2 doesn’t set the world on fire when it comes to the match 3 genre, but it is a fun title to play through and 10tons have done a good job with the game. Sure the story seems a bit of a pointless addition, but it adds something a little different even if the narrator doesn’t feel quite as to into it.
The game is a visually nice one, though levels do repeat. The only real problem is the sensitivity of the touch pad on PS4, and then it plays better on Vita. It’s a game that is enjoyable in short bursts compared to a long slog, and it provides a fun distraction.