Sparkle Unleashed by Finnish developer 10tons brings the classic match 3 orb game as seen in other titles such as Zuma and Luxor to Xbox One and Playstation 4 with a 108 level campaign mode, multiple difficulties and a survival mode too.
The campaign as I mentioned has 108 levels and the difficulty increases as you go through with the first bunch containing just regular orbs and as you progress it adds up to two layers of chains to some orbs, more colours (black/purple) and also the rock orbs which require breaking other orbs around them to destroy.
As well as the differences in orbs the levels also scale up in difficulty by increasing the speed of the orbs as they go around the track, adding in a second track which means you keep an eye on both and more twisting levels which are more difficult to fire at. There is some repetition in the levels but I thought the many ways in which the gameplay was mixed up meant that levels were rarely same even if the background itself was so its not a problem.
Levels are completed by collecting removing lines orbs which then releases the end piece and you need to get a certain amount of these per level to finish, there are other levels which need you to just survive for 2 minutes as well but these are less frequent. Failure occurs when orbs go down the black hole at the end of the track!
On top of all this there are 6 types of power up which you can upgrade twice each to make them much more powerful, my personal favourites were Marching Light where butterflies charge to crush orbs and the Frost Ray which fires a jet of freezing cold to blast through multiple layers. You can unlock the power ups how you like via keys which are collected by completing groups of levels.
There is also a somewhat “New Game Plus” mode whereby upon competing the game on normal you keep your upgraded power ups and can move on to Hard then Hardcore modes with increased difficulty so for those that get very much into it there is a lot of content to play through.
I found the game very enjoyable to play, the concept is solid and the way it does power ups and increasing difficulty made it more challenging and towards the end where added elements come together more really shows the game at its best.
I did feel the campaign was a bit too long though, 108 levels is a lot especially as the latter levels were definitely the best for me, perhaps they could have cut down a few of the earlier levels and removed the few “survive for 2 minutes” levels which would have given it a bit of refinement that I think it needed.
I’m not sure I’ve ever considered a game having too much content before especially one that costs $7.99 but in this case it was a growing feeling I had whilst playing it. Along with the amount of levels you need to finish it on normal to unlock hard and then hardcore, as a game that is perfect for shorter sessions as well as longer ones perhaps it needed that refinement as mentioned above although I may be alone in that.
That is about the biggest complaint I could come up with though which shows the strength of the game in that what it does is done well!
The achievements for the most part are quite simple to get, I unlocked 8 out of the 12 available during my normal play through with 2 of the 4 remaining being for the completion of Hard and Hardcore mode, one for survival and another one related to multipliers so they all seem attainable but will take you a long time given you need to play through the game 3 times.
Sparkle Unleashed is an enjoyable game with some small but nice gameplay tweaks to the formula which add a lot to the game, visually its nice and it runs well and you certainly can’t say there isn’t a lot of content in it! I had a lot of fun with the game, particularly in the latter levels which when combining my upgraded power ups with more challenging levels makes the game well worth playing.