The world is in darkness and it’s up to you to match your way through the wilderness and light braziers to banish it forever.
Sparkle Unleashed is a marble-shooter puzzle game developed and published by 10tons and is their first Xbox One title. It’s not a new game though, having previously been released as a mobile game in a series of Sparkle games.
Like many games in the genre, Sparkle Unleashed is addictive and a concept that we are familiar with. Your goal is to match three marbles of the same colour to clear them off the board as they spiral quickly on their course down a hole which will end your game instantly should any marbles find their way inside. A lot of the levels have more than one, so you have to be pretty rapid in making matches and clearing the board and you’ll probably find yourself just making it during a few levels and frantically trying to get combos to spawn a power up and some much needed help.
Match quick or the marbles will disappear down the hole and end the game
As you progress on your journey across the map lighting Braziers, you’ll find keys that unlock power-ups that will help you a great deal. To be able to use these power ups in game, you have to get a combo of three matches so sometimes you have to take a risk and let the marbles go further down their course in order to get a combo. Although getting combos unlocks power ups you don’t have a score which makes getting thirty plus combos seem pointless.
More marbles are also thrown into the mix, more colours make it harder and they gain chains that have to be broken before they disappear off the board, with some marbles needing three matches to clear. Lava balls are also added, you’ll need to make a match of any colour near them to cause them to break or use a power-up to destroy them.
The variety in the power ups you do get is impressive though, from explosions to wild marbles, shooting a big freeze ray to clear mass amounts of marbles and Spectral butterflies charging at the them destroying all in it’s path. Hitting them is always satisfying and a relief if you’ve let the marbles build up.
Unlock a multitude of power ups that help clear the levels
With 108 levels that gradually get harder, you’ll have to choose what power ups will help you with only one per line being activated at one time.
As you complete each level you’ll unlock survival levels which is a great addition to the game. The longer you last the more stars you earn, with an achievement for getting five stars in all survival levels it definitely helps extend the game although when I finished it asked me if I wanted to restart in hard mode and keep my power ups, choosing yes wipes all your unlocked survival levels so proceed with caution. The main quest can be restarted a total of two times, first on hard and then on nightmare, so it’s up to you whether you think you can handle the challenge.
What was a bit disappointing, compared with other games in the genre that have really set the bar high is the lack of background design. Even with levels given different names, the design stayed the same. Grass. Grass with snow, grass with bushes and some grass with the slightest bit of water next to it. In a game where the main focus is one screen, designing it to look fun, colourful and inviting is a must and something I felt the game lacked. The soundtrack was upbeat and fun and a perfect backdrop for matching and the game itself is very addictive.
Light your way through the levels and uncover the story
Overall Sparkle Unleashed is a great addition to its genre, although doesn’t quite live up to games like Zuma, it’s still fun and addictive and a great way to pass the time. I loved unlocking power ups as I progressed and using them was satisfying especially if I made a lot of matches and had more than one to activate, watching the board clear was fun. Survival mode and the different difficulties gave the game a lot of re-playability and tested your abilities to match at a fast pace while keeping your combos up and that tactic is the only way to survive some of the later levels. If you’re a fan of games like Zuma and Luxor, Sparkle Unleashed is the game for you.