First of all, let’s cut to the chase and get this out of the way. Sparkle the Game is a Zuma, Luxor, Stoneloops of Jurassica, add marble shooter of your choice here, clone. Plain and simple and no denying that fact. But 10tons Ltd has created a version of the the PC/Mac game for the iPod Touch that will have you scratching your head saying Zu-who?
With beautiful and colorful graphics, the game actually has a story to follow and definitely provides more options and player control than any of the aforementioned titles. In order to save Crowberry Wood from the clutches of evil and the shadow of darkness, you must complete each day by preventing the marbles from reaching the end of the mazes.
Game play is what you would expect – shoot colored orbs into the ever moving chain to make matches of 3 or more to clear them. Keep the chain from reaching the pit, covered in a quite graphically pleasing cloud of black smoke and you can move to the next level. Choose your path wisely to collect all of the amulets and power ups. The ultimate goal is to save the kingdom and reach each landmark at the end of each path. You will save the kingdom in portions and choosing which way to progress along each of the several forks in the road will vary the gameplay from player to player. A nice change from the standard one path formula.
Controls: Sparkle the Game fully utilizes the unique options the iPod Touch allows. I love a developer that works within the given parameters instead of forcing square pegs into round holes just to produce their idea of what a game should be. Controls are purely touch driven. Touch where you want your orb to land, touch the center launcher to switch which color is available to shoot next (you can only switch between the next two in line, but that sometimes will save you from a very precarious situation), touch to shoot at the power up. The touch and control is very accurate as well. The aim is precise and my only failure was not taking into account the moving line of orbs while aiming. So even the physics of shooting is taken with great precision and you definitely can miss simply because the line of orbs is faster and you don’t take that into account with your aim. A very nice addition of realism.
Customization: Believe it or not there are quite a lot of choices for game customization available. As mentioned there are several power ups available – anything from flames that destroy your orbs, an accuracy guideline, moving the line backwards etc. What makes this different however are the amulets you gain every certain amount of levels (most are every 6 levels and the game counts these down nicely before you embark on another maze to complete.) Choosing to equip an amulet will affect the power ups that you earn during the levels. For example, choosing the Amulet of Purple will allow each power up that appears to be the Purple Flame that burns away several orbs at once – handy for those winding and bending levels where you have little space in which to work.
As you progress along the map you will be faced with forks in the road and each path will lead to a new section of the kingdom to save. But these forks in the road are assurance that no two games will ever play the same way. My day 35 might be different from your day 35 depending on which path you have chosen.
Achievements: While not tied into one of the several social achievement networks, Sparkle the Game has a very comprehensive achievement board of its own. It tells you everything from how long you have been playing to the number of orbs you have shot, to the all important how many amulets you have found (and how many are left!)
A bit of lag: Reaching the upper levels of 30 and higher I have found some lag time in the row of orbs. The only negative effect I have found with this has been the accuracy in aiming.
Loose launcher: Well I didn’t know how to categorize this one, but sometimes when changing the order of your orbs you shoot your marble instead. It seems that to change the orb you must hit the launcher dead center. Though doing that is accurate, in the heat of gameplay that is sometimes difficult to master. I have wasted a few shots because of this and while it does not deter from the game it has created some trickier lines of orbs to clear.
Overall, Sparkle the Game sparkles (sorry I couldn’t help myself). At first glance it looks like just another copycat, but dig a little deeper and you will find a complex game with much to offer. With three game modes (Quest, Challenge, and Survival) you will be coming back for more in this addictive and colorful game. Replayablity abounds with 12 secrets to be discovered, power ups and amulets to collect and customizable game play to change your experience each time. The new update also includes a colorblind mode, opening up this great game to many new consumers. And of course, saving Crowberry Woods from imminent danger will make anyone feel good.
Sparkle the Game is currently priced at $2.99 and is developed by 10tons Ltd. Version 1.02 was reviewed on a 2g iPod Touch.