Release Date: 25 December 2017 (US) / 28 September 2017 (UK)
Price: $7.99 / £6.99
Reviewed by Clay Howard
As the Switch continues to add games to its ever expanding library, quality titles in the puzzle genre continue to emerge. Sparkle Unleashed, the fourth game in the series developed by 10tons Ltd., brings a fresh feel to the genre in the form of a match three marble game mixed in with a pseudo tower defence layout.
Each level features a windy trail with a dark hole at the very end. As a stream of colored orbs begin to snake their way through the path, you must use the orb slinger floating at the bottom of the screen to lob orbs from your ammo reserve. Matching three of the same color together causes them to be destroyed. If multiple orbs reach the end, the level is lost and must be restarted.
The game takes this simple concept and progressively introduces new elements, resulting in a unique and exciting experience.
‘Sparkle Unleashed’ really didn’t need a storyline. It's a puzzle game after all, but I appreciated that it gives you a reason for your task and sets you out ready for adventure. “A secluded world of mystery has succumbed to an ominous darkness. You must travel through the fallen lands, light magical braziers and banish the darkness once and for all.” While a tad basic and shallow, it serves its purpose of cementing the game’s overall art style and fantasy feel..
Many puzzle games run into the same issues, that is - repetitive and monotonous gameplay. ‘Sparkle Unleashed’ avoids that complaint all together by adding exciting and well thought out power ups. This is where the game really find its character and flavor. Over 23 variations exist, ranging from fireballs that explode orbs, color changing orbs, and a power up that pushes the orbs backwards. You’re allowed to pick and choose to create a custom load out of 6 at a time. Many times, I've been able to get myself out of sticky situations with these helpful powerups.
The first 50 levels offered a good amount of challenge but were generally easy. When the difficulty ramps up around level 60, I could really feel the weight of my decisions, each clearly having a much bigger impact on my likelihood of success
‘Sparkle Unleashed’ is a jam packed game. With over 100 challenge levels, as well as a survival mode, and two other difficulties to play through, this game isn't something you will rush through, and that's what's so great about it! I couldn't put the game down and always found myself rushing back to see what would happen next.
Chaotic and fun
My favorite style of levels were those that require you to survive for a certain amount of time. These levels are scattered throughout the game and provide a nice change of pace. They are extremely chaotic, but very fun fighting off the much quicker orbs from rushing to the black hole at the end.
The game also has a very impressive achievement system. It lets you know when you’ve hit certain chain combos, or popped a milestone number of orbs, or hit so many hours of play. It's a small thing, but on the Switch in particular, achievements are a pleasant addition.
Sparkle Unleashed probably has the best music I’ve ever heard in a puzzle game. Created by award-winning composer Jonathan Geer, the soundtrack put a smile on my face everytime I listened to it. The overall feel to the music is very orchestra heavy, with a strong John Williams vibe. Certain songs get very serious, while others have a very happy and upbeat feel to them. I could spend so much more time on the music as it truly is something special, but let us finish up.
Sparkle Unleashed is an amazing puzzle game, opening my eyes to the creativity and heart that such games can contain. It’s addicting game play style and brilliant music had me longing to play more and more. I even noticed my eyes burning at the end of levels due to not blinking or taking my eyes off the tv. It truly is that great, and playing it on the Switch makes it that much better. With a fair and modest price tag of $8, this is a game I’d recommend to anyone. So whether you are a fan of the genre, or a puzzle noob, you've got to get your hands on Sparkle Unleashed and throw some orbs around!
Pros & Cons
+ Amazing music
+ Fun and addicting gameplay
+ Super cool powerups and customization
- Can't replay levels
- Story lacking at times