There’s a treasure in the world of Sparkle 2 that’s so well hidden that nobody has ever been able to find it. Some people have spent their entire lives trying to track it down, going mad in the process. Naturally, the only way of succeeding where others have failed is to match three or more coloured balls across dozens of levels – and it’s still a better archaeological romp than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
At its heart, this is an incredibly faithful Zuma clone in which you match marbles by firing at a constantly moving line of gems. If the balls make it through the maze before you clear them all, you’ll lose. It’s worth pointing out that this is so faithful to PopCap’s franchise that you could easily mistake it for some kind of sequel if it didn’t lack the original series’ famous frog. And that’s actually a good thing, we’d like to add.
There are few companies that can even approach the level of quality provided by the Peggle people, so it’s impressive that 10tons has managed to achieve it. The controls are tight, the gameplay is incredibly addictive, and the price is even spot on – there’s not really much more that you could ask for here. But we’re not even finished yet.
As a cross-buy release, the company at the helm has opted to leverage the unique features found in both the PlayStation 4 and the Vita. The latter allows you to play with the handheld’s touch screen, which works perfectly, and gives you much more precision than the more traditional analogue stick options. Moreover, the game is a great fit for the portable play sessions enabled by the pocketable platform, and is perfect for long (or short) journeys.
Of course, if you want to play on the big screen, then Sony’s next-gen system enables you to enjoy it with the added accuracy of touch controls, too. Here, the developer uses the DualShock 4’s touchpad to put you in control of an onscreen cursor, which indicates which direction you’re aiming in. It’s not a perfect solution – swapping between gems on your launcher feels particularly uncomfortable – but it still rivals the analogue stick, and is better than the average gimmick.
The visuals and sound are solid, although the PS4 version doesn’t really have a huge number of advantages over the Vita edition. It’s not supposed to be a graphical tour-de-force, of course, but the lack of bells and whistles result in the next-gen outing being a little underwhelming. Meanwhile, the story – while well presented – is mostly unnecessary, and doesn’t really go anywhere.
Thankfully, it’s not the only mode available, and you can play through more traditional puzzles by unlocking them. There are also challenges to complete, as well as an Endless option for those feeling brave, all of which you’ll access as you gradually make your way towards the aforementioned treasure. This is a task made more interesting by the inclusion of perks and power-ups, which not only adapt the way that you approach the game, but also inject a little zest into the action.
Puzzle fans beware: Sparkle 2 will have you glued to your console – especially if you attempt the addictive Endless mode. This is an entertaining distraction at a decent price, and is definitely deserving of an ever ready spot on your device.