Sparkle Unleashed (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 21.10.2018

Review for Sparkle Unleashed on Nintendo Switch

Ever since the release of the Nintendo Switch, the flexibility of the console being used as a portable or as a home console opens all sorts of gaming possibilities that developers may try to unlock. Sparkle Unleashed by 10tons is a colour-matching puzzler that is built in the same vein as Popcap's Zuma series. While there are minimal deviations to the formula, Sparkle Unleashed does not try to reinvent the wheel, but rather just provide more hours of enjoyment for those who want a light-hearted "jump-in-and-play" puzzle-matching game for the Nintendo Switch be it at home or on the go. After looking at this on PS Vita and PS4, now it is Switch's turn.

The overall mechanics of Sparkle Unleashed are indifferent to the general expectations of a Zuma-type title. Coloured balls are rolled out on a fixed 'conveyer belt,' and the balls can only be popped by matching three balls of the same colour in a row, by firing balls from the shooter at the bottom of the playfield into the path of the coloured balls. It is a stock standard approach to the match-three genre, and there are little surprises to be found to spice up the mechanics. The main aim is simple: destroy the line of coloured balls before they reach the end-hole and fall in. One of the things that does separate Sparkle Unleashed from other similar match-three titles is that there are power-ups to unlock over the course of the campaign mode. While the main mode features 108 levels to get through with an increasing difficulty, luckily there the power-ups, ranging from passive abilities that activate upon shooting the icon that appears on the screen, or active abilities that require initiating manually.

Examples include a "wild-ball" to falling meteors that wipe out half the field, and they can mean all the difference between winning and losing. Of course, losing takes place when the balls on the 'conveyer belt' end up reaching the end and dropping down. However, these power-ups can come in handy to quickly wipe out a large amount of balls to peg back that ball-line. They require scoring three straight matches in a row, with each match happening off a single ball. While it may sound complex, this is surprisingly easy to do. Once the right rhythm has been figured out, soon it will be an easier task to plan, by matching up different balls of two to then create a chance for a quick destruction chain to summon multiple power-ups. The only negative is that summoning one means a random dip of the draw; it may be one that is highly sought after, or a power-up that is of no help.

Screenshot for Sparkle Unleashed on Nintendo Switch

Another obvious change to Zuma is that the controlled-shooter is not in a fixed position on the stage but is instead placed on the horizontal scale at the bottom of the screen and it can be moved left and right. The stages themselves have been designed so that the horizontal-scaled shooter can still reach the gritty corners of the ball-trail, although in some cases there are some nearly impossible shots that make things a little bit tricky.

While Sparkle Unleashed can be played docked, the experience would be wasted on that. Instead, handheld mode is preferable, using the Joy-Con controls that also deliver some high-pressure vibrative feedback that makes the end-game even more thrilling as the intensity picks up. While using the controllers may be fine in most stages, there are some tougher levels that lend themselves well to the touchscreen instead. Simply tap down on the screen to launch a ball and hold a finger down before releasing it to bring up a directional line to make scoring precise hits easier. Oddly enough, there are some stages that are easier to complete by using the touchscreen completely, whereas other stages are easier using the side-controls. Why this is remains a complete mystery, although using the touchscreen does mean quicker ball releases than the side-buttons, so maybe that's why.

In addition to the 'Normal' difficulty of the 108 levels, there are also 'Hard' and 'Nightmare' modes upon completion of each difficulty. This adds a ton of value, yet it is simply for mere bragging rights rather than unlocking anything of proper value. There is also a Survival mode, which measures skill against an endless wave of balls. However, apart from the survival aspect, there is literally no mechanical difference to the campaign and, as such, it does render Survival a bit redundant for those not interested in completing all the achievements.

Screenshot for Sparkle Unleashed on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Sparkle Unleashed is a good enough puzzle title that delivers exactly what is expected. The mechanics work the way they should without any bugs or hiccups, and the five different power-ups do offer great help when the going gets tough in most cases. However, apart from that, 10tons colour-matching affair is no different to other hit titles, such as actionloop! or Zuma, and without any real point of difference to separate them, the temptation to try this out may not be there in favour of free versions available elsewhere. If these puzzle games sound ideal, though, many hours can quickly fly by.

Developer

10tons

Publisher

10tons

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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