iPhone Game Review: Sparkle
Reviewed by Austin
The Darkness is taking over Crowberry Woods and only you can stop it. The one object that can save existence resides deep within the forest. You must travel alone into the Darkness to defeat it.
Sparkle plays like your basic marble shooter; you shoot your orbs at a moving "train" of orbs to make a match of three or more of the same color. The main objective is to keep the "train" from reaching the hole at the end of the track. How Sparkle differs from others, are its various power-ups and amulets. There are two types of power-ups, destructive and altering. Destructive power-ups use varying methods to destroy orbs and altering power-ups change orbs' colors, slow the "train", or make the "train" go backwards. Out of the ten or so power-ups, only around half of them are actually useful. There are fifteen amulets to be unlocked, each with their own attributes. Some of these are positive, and some may be considered negative. Amulets are rewarded after completing a set number of levels in Quest mode and can be selected in between levels.
There are three game modes in Sparkle: Quest, Challenge, and Survival. In Quest mode you travel into the forest in search of a rune to rid the world of the Darkness. This mode consists of over 60 levels called days. After around every five days, you are rewarded with a life. This becomes quite a problem as past days cannot be replayed. Thankfully, about every ten days there is a checkpoint; a gameover will result in starting over from this checkpoint day. Survival mode feels a little misleading. Instead of a timer, you gain ranks based on how many orbs you have cleared. When you fail, you can simply restart at your highest obtained rank. Survival is played on the 20 or so maps from Quest mode with specific amulets. Last but not least is Challenge mode. This mode is also misleading. You play the maps from Quest mode like a normal game. The "challenge" is to complete the map as fast as you can.
When taking a break from the core game, there is something else you can do: hunt for secrets. The developer has taken the time to scatter twelve secrets throughout Sparkle. For every four secrets you find, you are rewarded an amulet. This is an unusual and very entertaining touch.
While the gameplay modes and power-ups are entertaining, Sparkle has a huge flaw: this isn?t any kind of scoring system, and for those who play to compete on highscores this is fatal. At the end of a level, you are given stats: orbs shot, accuracy, longest chain and combo, and the time it took to complete the level. Other than that, there isn?t any kind of scoring. It feels like there is no point, nothing to keep you motivated other than to complete the story.
There is a nice bit of polish in this section. Orbs roll and shine, the map looks great, the main menu looks amazing, and the power-ups are flashy and eye-catching. The orb shooter seems to be a little lacking though.
The music stands out quite a bit. Simply said, it is very catchy and well composed. The music varies as you continue through the main quest. It is some of the best music I have heard in an iPhone game.
Not much to say about sound effects. The orbs clack like pool balls and crunch when destroyed. A chime goes off for a chain or a combo. Sounds seem complete and appropriate.
Unfortunately iPod music is disabled. Though the music is good, it can get repetitive and nothing truly beats your own.
Sparkle is an attempt to bring marble shooting genre to the iPhone. It doesn't necessarily fail, nor does it truly succeed. While it is fun, it becomes repetitive far too fast. Without a scoring system there isn't much motivation to continue. If you must have a marble shooter, then this is a good choice. It has a great amount of polish, great music, and the core game mechanics.
This game requires a great amount of patience. Levels eventually begin to last to over three minutes. It doesn?t sound like much, but it can get boring fast. It is only recommended to buy this game if you love marble-shooters. If you don't, there maybe a strong chance you may not enjoy this game.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: 5 Well-polished graphics.
Sound: 5 Probably some of the best music in an iPhone/iPod touch game.
Controls: 4 Tap to shoot, can get a little difficult when the "train" is close to the shooter.
Gameplay: 3 It becomes very repetitive and lacks a scoring system.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Avoid the Amulet of Simplify. While removing one color sounds like it make it easier, the orbs move fast enough without it. It?s not worth it.
-Try to keep the ?train? broken. As long as there is a gap, it won?t be moving.
-Act quickly. The game won?t wait on you. If you don?t clear them fast enough, they will keep piling up.
Release Date: February 21, 2010
Buy App: iTunes App Store
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