Sparkle Unleashed (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 31.08.2016 3

Review for Sparkle Unleashed  on PlayStation 4

It's a fairly rare occurrence at Cubed3 towers, but occasionally a review code will slip down the side of its virtual couch cushions, and wind up getting overlooked for no good reason. Why, only recently a misplaced coupon for Sparkle Unleashed, a game that first hit the PS4 a year or so back, was unearthed during an unusually thorough forage for a Pokémon that had been spotted lurking about the office. Admittedly, the likelihood of anybody patiently holding fire on purchasing 10tons' ball-blasting opus seemed highly unlikely, but it's only right that the code should be redeemed to fulfil its digital destiny and actually get reviewed. Better late than never, right? So without further ado… here it is.

While Sparkle Unleashed might sound like a budget brand of dishwasher tablets, it's actually the third title in a series that originated on the mobile platforms and has since spread onto the home consoles. It tells the tale of a mysterious, secluded world, smothered by an impenetrable darkness that can only be saved by illuminating a series of magical braziers (not ladies underwear btw… confirmed), which makes it sound more like one of the Trine games than the fully-fledged sphere shunter it actually is.

Screenshot for Sparkle Unleashed  on PlayStation 4

Yep, it's a colour-based, match-three, ball-centric puzzler, very much in the style of Zuma, which, for the benefit of the few remaining people unfamiliar with Popcap's bauble-banging series, sports a very simple and easy to understand premise. There are usually one or two pre-ordained paths that end with a hole, balls of varying colours start to continuously roll slowly down the path towards the orifice which can be removed from play when three or more of the same colour get matched together.

Matches are created by aiming and propelling the stream of randomly coloured balls from the player's moveable orb-sling towards the constantly creeping marble train, displacing the balls either side at its point of impact. If three or more are matched they'll disappear from play either leaving a gap or, if it's been planned well, roll back to re-connect magnetically providing that the colours match at either side of the gap.

Screenshot for Sparkle Unleashed  on PlayStation 4

Smart players will soon realise that a bit of forward planning regarding strategic ball placement can set off a chain reaction of events, as subsequent matches get made when the gaps reconnect. Toss a variety of obstacles (tunnels etc), and power ups into the mix to further hinder/aid the task at hand and the challenge is set. The game ends as soon as a ball drops down a hole - and if that makes Sparkle Unleashed sound like a blatant clone of Zuma, then that's because it is.

That's not to say that 10Tons haven't at least tweaked the formula with a few natty additions of their own, such as boulders that can only be removed when a match is made near them, or balls locked up with snow tyre chains that need to be busted free before they can be disposed of. Where Zuma was a big purveyor of the random power-up, Sparkle Unleashed only allows two 'braziers' to be selected in the loadout at any one time (ah… so the brazier is a power-up, then). There are 18 of these in total that gradually unlock with progress through the campaign, and while a few of them might feel familiar to Zuma's fans, there's enough difference to avoid the need for an angry phone call from Popcap's lawyers.

Screenshot for Sparkle Unleashed  on PlayStation 4

Presentation wise it's fair to say that this doesn't particularly shine or even sparkle for that matter, and It feels like 10Tons clearly opted to stick with the full on tablet experience, rather than take advantage of the increased horsepower the PS4 has to offer. Where clear influence Zuma bristles with charm, colour, and personality, Sparkle Unleashed feels like a direct contrast in comparison. with a soulless, bland aesthetic that betrays its mobile roots somewhat.

Ok, that possibly sounds harsh as it doesn't really put a foot wrong, and can be a fun little distraction in small doses, but it does little to elevate itself in a cluttered marketplace teeming with similar product. The jaunty and catchy classical soundtrack can, on occasion, get slightly repetitive but it does give the game a 'Sugar Plum Fairy' vibe that sits well thematically. Boasting 108 levels in total, as well as a Survival mode, there's enough ball-busting content to keep the high rollers busy for some time.

Screenshot for Sparkle Unleashed  on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Sparkle Unleashed proves to be a mildly addictive ball-shunting diversion, and amply fills the Zuma-shaped hole that still inexplicably exists on the PS4, but it's highly unlikely that it'll rock anybody's world. In conclusion: this is best enjoyed as a palate cleanser between bigger, meatier titles.

Developer

10tons

Publisher

10tons

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sparkle Unleashed copies Zuma, which itself copied PuzzLoop! So the chain of copying goes on...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Hmm, can't say I'm aware of PuzzLoop ... I bow down to your superior knowledge of bauble based entertainment

It's by the now defunct Mitchell Corp, who actually filed a lawsuit against against the Zuma makers for blatantly copying the idea:


 

 

Mitchell also made PANG: Magical Michael, which has my voice in it Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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