This is an ongoing list where I attempt to do the following: Play, Complete, and Rank every video game in the known universe in order to finally answer the age old question "What is the greatest game of all time?" For previous entries find the links on the attached spreadsheet.
How did I do?
This might be a short one. Have you ever played Zuma back in the PopCap days? Well if yes, then you have played Sparkle 2 for the most part, and you already know if you are going to like this game based almost entirely based on whether or not you like Zuma. Are there some differences? Sure, and we will go into that, but the core is the same game. Of course this is not very professional of me, to start off a review of a game simply by comparing to another game, that is not even on my list, so let’s go back to the basics.
Sparkle 2 is a match three game with a slight twist. In every level, yes this game is level based, there is a collection of marbles (or orbs) that are being pushed down a path towards a hole. If the marbles reach that hole then it is game over and you need to restart that level, but you can destroy the collection by matching any three or more orbs of the same color and they will be destroyed. If you destroy the whole procession before any of them reach the end, then you win and can advance to the next level. In order to make the matches you fire orbs from a hopper that sits at a single point on the map. Any shot that you take that does not destroy an orb will be added to the procession, so if you are firing wily nily that you might cause your downfall quickly.
There are some bonuses. If you manage to shoot 3 shots in a row that end in a match, then a random powerup will drop. You will have to shoot at the powerup to pick it up, but it will grant a temporary advantage that comes in many forms. For instance one powerup might slow the speed at which the procession moves, one powerup might make the line go backwards for a little bit, and others might destroy chunks of the remaining orbs. Assuming you can keep a chain going, you can reliably count on powerups dropping every three shots which will give you plenty of powers to make it through the level. Depending on how the level is set up, there is a possibility that the powerup will appear on the screen in a place where you may not be able to actually get to it because the line of marbles is continuously in the way. Eventually the powerup will disappear if not picked up, and there was no limit as to how many can be on the screen at one time, so even if one is out of reach if you hit 3 more in a row another powerup will appear even though the first has yet to be picked up.
The main “story” of this game is that there are 5 keys hidden throughout a magical land and that if you can gather all 5 keys you get to open a portal or something. I can’t really say with a straight face that I cared or paid attention to the story, but there supposedly is one. All it really sets up is a world map that at different points allows you to pick which direction you want to do the levels in. Should I head left and go towards a giant hand or should I go right and cross a big bridge? It doesn’t really matter, as you will need to do all the levels if you want to beat the game, but some choice is certainly a plus. There are roughly 100 stages in the story that you will need to play through in order to roll credits, but there isn’t much of a difference in the order you do them.
When I say levels, what I really mean is how things are positioned and how many different colors the marbles might be. Early on a level might have a path that is a lot of straight lines and your shooter is unobstructed so that you can pretty much hit any spot you want without having to wait for marbles to get into just the right place. The end that the marbles are headed towards might also be firmly behind you, giving you plenty of time to match until the level is over without ever catching a whiff of potential defeat. In middle to later levels you might be contending with two or three different lines of marbles that are racing to different locations, forcing you to choose which match is more important at any given moment because focusing too much on one line could cause you to fail from forgetting about another. Later levels will also introduce more colors that you will see marbles in. Gone are just the days of Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green, as you will soon see introductions of White and Black, as well as Pink and Purple. While it should go without saying that the later levels certainly are a step up in difficulty as you are contending with more colors, less forgiving maps, and possibly multiple lines to stop. There was only the rare occasion where I would actually fail a level. This isn’t some sort of humble brag, and I certainly did fail a few times, but it was probably 5 or less fails out of 100 levels.
There is one final aspect that you unlock powerups for your launcher after every 5-7 levels that you can permanently slot in as you see fit. You are only given so many slots to fit your permanent upgrades for and you will have to decide your playstyle as to what is important for you. For instance there is a powerup that after every 20 shots you automatically get a powerup that allows you to shoot a bomb at the marbles, regardless if you have a streak going or not. Or perhaps you want a permanent powerup that makes the marbles go slower for each level but in return makes you have to destroy even more of them to defeat the level. These powers won’t necessarily break the game for you in either direction, but are still fun to unlock.
There are other modes in the game including an endless mode and challenge mode that you can play, but the draw for me and for this series is the campaign mode that has you tackling these levels with an end goal in mind. Upon completion of the game you do unlock a harder mode to play through the campaign, which I only dabbled in, but ultimately it means that the marbles move quicker and that there seem to be more of them which is the biggest change.
Overall there isn’t really a lot to complain about with Sparkle 2 because it can be boiled down to a match 3 style game. The music is fairly decent but you are going to hear it a lot as there isn’t a huge collection of music to get through. The backgrounds and levels themselves vary only in the slightest way possible, outside of a few levels. There were certainly multiple points in the game where I was absolutely convinced that I had played this exact same level (setup and everything) just a few levels before. The game could have certainly used more backgrounds, or music to help with that feeling of déjà vu, but I’m not at all that upset about any of those motions.
Sparkle 2 isn’t going to (didn’t) set the world on fire, and while it is an incredibly well made and capable game that probably feels right at home on the switch or the steam deck (I played on Ps4). It’s also not trying to do something amazing. It is a game that you keep installed and bust out a few levels while waiting on the bus or in a waiting room, or a game that you pass to the kids to placate them at a restaurant to just be quiet. It is inoffensive and easy to pick up and play without needing to understand a lot of rules. Those aren’t attempts from me to diminish the game, but it can be an incredibly well made game and play well, but not really be considered high up on the “Greatest of All Time” list.
Is this the greatest game of all time?: no
Where does it rank: Sparkle 2 is a very competent game, and a very fun game, but it isn't a great game. That doesnt mean it is a bad game, but its a match 3 game and if you play 1 level you have played them all. It's the perfect game to play a level or two while waiting, but this isn't a game that you will necessarily pick to play over anything else when you have the TV for an hour. I have Sparkle 2 ranked as the It sits between Evoland 2 (103rd) and World of Solitaire (105th).
Anyone looking for it: here is the link to the list and more if you are interested in following along with me (this is not a self promotion).Here. I added links on the spreadsheet for quick navigation. Now if you missed a blog of a game you want to read about, you can get to it quickly, rather than having to scroll through my previous blogs wondering when it came up.
Thanks for listening
Future games coming up 1) Mario Golf (n64) 2) The Magister 3) Hitman: World of Assassination