Sparklite (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Josh Di Falco 14.01.2020

Review for Sparklite on Nintendo Switch

By now, there have been plenty of rogue-likes that have tried a manner of different things to stand out from the pack. Though the genre seems to have been done to death, RedBlue Games' Sparklite is a welcome addition that is bright, colourful, and a joy to play. Geodia is a beautiful pixelated land that has been overtaken by the Baron, who has been pillaging the 'Sparklite' from the world. A young girl, Ada, rises to the challenge of protecting the planet's life force by trying to vanquish the Titans who threaten their way of life.

The main thing that sticks out with Sparklite is that this is one of the easier rogue-likes available out there. For those who have never jumped into this genre, before and are looking to try it out, Sparklite serves as the perfect introduction, as the difficulty is at a minimum. However, the double-edged sword to this is that long-time fans of the genre may not find much of a challenge here.

The world of Geodia is made up of four distinct areas, and each area is home to its own unique enemies. Each of the areas also has a 'boss' titan that needs to be defeated before Ada can progress to the next area. Where the rogue-like element comes into play is when Ada is killed, as the world of Geodia then suffers a 'fracture,' upon which it then rebuilds itself for the next play-through. However, Geodia never really changes, as the same rooms are just mapped out a little differently with each try, but they still look exactly the same. It's a procedurally-generated world that relies on the same handful of room designs to create a different map layout.

Screenshot for Sparklite on Nintendo Switch

The gameplay may feel familiar to most, as it looks like an exact replica of the original The Legend of Zelda on the NES. The top-down, grid-like map is a lovely sight, and the chirpy music that accompanies Ada on her journey through the pixelated world brings a huge dose of nostalgia. Thankfully, even the younger crowd who hasn't played this classic gem, can still find enjoyment here without the nostalgia-inducing gameplay.

Unlike most rogue-like's where all progress is lost upon dying, here Ada will retain all of the sparklite she's collected. The titular element acts as the currency in here, as the heroine can use these to purchase new upgrades at the home base. Once she's equipped to satisfaction, Ada can then launch into a new play-through on a changed map to try and beat the boss again.

This is the gameplay loop in the simplest form. When Ada dies, she can put all of her currency into upgrades for the next attempt. All weapons and upgrades are retained for the next play-through, with only the temporary items being lost - but the next play-through is filled with these temporary items for collection, and really, these are also pretty useless at times. In the early-game, these will be relied upon, however as Ada gains upgrades that can perform the same results, these items become redundant.

Screenshot for Sparklite on Nintendo Switch

Sparklite seems to always reward Ada, even in death. There is never a real threat that poses to derail Ada's journey, and this is where the lack of a real challenge lies. No play-through is a waste, as she keeps all of the important stuff that's designed to make her better. Upgrades can be purchased and equipped that can increase Ada's life bar or her stamina for using her special weapons, while her basic attack or defence can also be improved.

During this review Ada was able to accumulate enough money to max out her inventory, so that she could had enough HP, stamina and attack damage to never have to worry about dying again. All of this, without having beaten the first boss in the game. This makes Sparklite the best title for newcomers to the genre, as Ada's adventure will always progress forwards. Rogue-likes generally excel with the 'survival' aspect, where death is a proper punishment due to losing most progress or weapons; however, in Sparklite there is no such thing as punishment.

Screenshot for Sparklite on Nintendo Switch

A real issue with this is that it can over-deliver on all of the upgrades, and even long after Ada has maxed out her inventory and upgrade slots, there will always be more upgrades to unlock that she just won't be able to equip due a lack of room in her inventory. Inventory management has been borrowed straight from Diablo, with a grid-based menu where differing items fit into the grid differently. While most upgrades only take up one block, some upgrades take up a 2x2 block, leaving less room for more upgrades. Prior to each play-through, Ada must make the best use of her inventory to ensure that all of the important upgrades have been attached.

The map itself is filled with hidden secrets and special dungeons that are hidden beneath boulders that must be destroyed. These dungeons generally have upgrades that Ada can equip the next time she's back at base. These are fun little excursions, and most of the dungeons also try to have challenges, which requires mastering some of the special weapons that she can create. Each new area also brings its own special weapon; but first, Ada must find the building that houses these. Upon entering and completing the 'dungeon trial' with the new weapon, she then reverse-engineers the design of the weapon to create a blueprint which she can then replicate into her own weapon back at base.

The main issue with these weapons is that they rarely seem to be useful as 'weapons.' Enemies and bosses move fast most of the time, and launching these weapons can be a slow and tedious process that almost always ends in Ada failing to cause damage. The main use of these seems to be unlocking new chests by solving dungeon-based puzzles instead, which kind of renders the 'weapons' part as redundant. Hell, even these special puzzles that require specific weapons or tools are so rare to find that Ada may finish the game without ever having needed to use them at all, which is quite bizarre.

Screenshot for Sparklite on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Sparklite is a colourful rogue-like that yearns for the pixel-based games on the original NES. By removing most of the challenges generally found in rogue-likes, this puts itself at the top of the list for newcomers who want to dip their toes into the water. Aged fans of the genre won't find any surprises or challenges here, and the lack of a real contest or a risk-versus-reward system can be a turn off. Ada's journey can be a short one, as it can be completed in less than five hours, and it provides enjoyment due to an addictive gameplay loop, catchy music, and the ability to relive the pixelated days of old.

Developer

RedBlue Games

Publisher

Merge Games

Genre

Action Adventure

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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