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Sparkle Unleashed (Xbox) ~ Throwback Review!

Sparkle Unleashed is a marble shooter. An arcade game quite similar to Zuma's Revenge by Pop Cap. So, in case you have never heard of Zuma's Revenge before, read on!

So, you begin a journey... each level is referred to as a day in your journey. You have a floating orb slinger, some coloured balls and you have to clear the orbs by matching the same colours together making groups of 3+ (it's not rocket science). Things get a little trickier as you go through the days with the introduction of chained orbs/rock orbs which require a little more of your focus if you intend to complete the day.

Every so often you get to choose a power up. There are 18 in total and eventually all become available for you. You unlock them after X amount of days (the number increases every so often as you progress). Trust me, you need at least some of these unlocked before you will be remotely successful at the survival mode.
Yes, there is a survival mode! You can get up to 5 stars for each of the survival levels, which is by no means an easy thing to achieve. There is an achievement for 5 starring all survival levels so if you're a completionist, bear this in mind before you add this to your grind!

Each day you are required to clear the hoards of pushers (they push a line of orbs of various colours). You clear the lines by slinging your coloured orb (press A to do so) next to other orbs of the same colour. Make a chain of x3 (or any multiple of 3) and you are rewarded with a floating power-up which you must shoot in order to collect it and then its yours to use.

Now, I threw myself into this game with such incredible enthusiasm that by the time I reached day 40 I felt like I was literally on a journey, so far away from home that I was beginning to lose hope. My head was screaming "Where is the variety?" I was doing the same thing again and again and the only thing "mixing it up" a little was the odd "Survive for X amount of seconds" day. 10tons could have done so much more with their content! They could have had challenges within each day to complete, getting 3 stars per day, etc. but no, it is repetitive and frankly, quite tedious. The days are pretty straightforward to get through, I do have to admit that every so often there will be a day which you think you just cant get past (Day 63 sticks in my mind for some reason) but eventually, with perseverance, you will!

To distract myself from my growing frustration with the game, I tried survival. Now this part of the game is SO much fun, if not infuriating (in a good way). There are 21 survival levels which all need to be 5 stars. There does seem to be a certain amount of luck needed in order to get anywhere, though. You need the power-ups to be kind to you in your moments of need or you will fail! I am yet to 5 star anything but I will not give up! I definitely prefer survival mode to story mode. I feel like I'm actually trying to achieve something, that my struggle is for a greater good (the 5th star!) and not just for the sake of passing through another day. I really can't rate survival enough!

Something I quite often take for granted in a game is the background music. I have to say that the soundtrack is wonderful. Don't get me wrong though, every time I hear it, rage bubbles up inside me (just kidding). It is exactly right for the game, it gets stuck in your head and I do miss it when I've muted the TV. They could have perhaps worked a little harder to the background itself during game play. You literally have a picture of grass: Frosty, damp, normal or dry its still grass. In fairness to them they really nailed what grass looks like. I don't mind so much, I'm far too busy looking at all the coloured orbs.

Sparkle Unleashed is a generally enjoyable game, especially if you don't want to get into anything too deep. It has 108 levels in the story mode, a survival mode and two harder difficulty settings for the story mode (if there weren't achievements for completing the story mode 3 times I really wouldn't bother! but there are so I shall...) You unlock the hard mode by completing the story on normal and unlock nightmare by completing hard. You basically restart and do the whole thing again with the luxury of keeping all of your power-ups, though! It seemingly just carries on from where you left off- things are slightly quicker and colours are introduced earlier. Objective stays the same: clear the orbs!

Maybe I'm a little unfair to the story mode for not having any variety, in small doses I guess its fine. I like to get really stuck into a game, though. It will be a pretty hefty grind to complete all achievements which should be kept in mind before purchasing this. You will need to complete the story mode 3 times in total. Normal, Hard and Nightmare.
Personally, I think that Xbox One is really lacking in a variety of arcade games at the moment so Sparkle Unleashed is definitely welcome with somewhat half open arms.
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