Posted by Ben Tarrant
The aim of Sparkle is to fling different coloured marbles at a procession of similarly styled balls that are rolling progressively closer to the centre of an on-screen maze. Put three of the same tinted spheres in a row and they will detonate, with your ultimate goal being to spontaneously combust all of the orbs as promptly as possible. You can launch globes using the right stick or touch-screen, but we often found that the latter proved a more accurate method. Interestingly, while many marble poppers work on a top-to-bottom basis, this game goes the other way, forcing you to destroy the shiny widgets as they follow snake-like routes to the middle of a maze. It's a lot like Zuma, then.
In addition to your skills of colour differentiation, you'll need to make use of some rather bold power-ups that can be gained by chaining combos. While these are only single use items, the title also features Amulets, which you unlock by completing levels. These wearable bonuses boast more permanent powers that last for the duration of a full marble massacre, and augment abilities such as double marbles and speed shots. You can only equip one of these at time, so proceedings never get too hectic.
Much to our surprise, the game actually possesses a plot in which the Crowberry Woods have been overtaken by dark forces. Destroying orbs apparently defeats these so-called evil spirits, and thus the simple storyline forms the foundation for the action. It's very basic, but the text and dark woodland backdrops provide some relief between stages. If you're just looking for finger flinging fun, though, there are more than enough modes to help you to hone your skills to legendary levels. Time Trial, for example, will test your agility, while Survival will challenge you to play for as long as possible.
Visually, the release looks fine on the PlayStation Vita, and even though it's been ported to the platform, developer 10tons has done a great job of making it feel right at home on Sony's system. As a straightforward puzzle game, it feels ideal for on-the-move gaming, as its short but satisfying stages are perfect for commutes and waiting rooms alike. It may not be especially original, but it's well crafted and worth its lowly asking price.
Sparkle may not reinvent the rulebook, but it's a solid entry in the popular jewel-busting genre. The story's simple and the presentation's basic – but the bubble popping action is so satisfying that you'll be glad that you took a trip to the Crowberry Woods in the long run.