Rating : 7/10
I’ve always been a fan of match-3 games, and that was probably born from a game called Zuma, which I played on Android and later the Xbox 360. Sparkle Unleashed is a similar concept to that; coloured orbs are travelling across the screen along a set route, and you have to fire orbs at the line to match three or more. Except this one doesn’t have you shooting them out of a stone frog’s mouth. It was released in 2014 for PC, and now it’s made its way to the Nintendo Switch.
You control the Orb Slinger, which fires orbs from the bottom of the screen. There’s a vague story about exploring the jungle trying to find something, but it’s only mentioned a few times scattered between the 100+ levels. There really is no explanation for the orbs, nor why you’re matching them, but it’s a puzzle game, not a narrative experience.
Although there are a bunch of different courses for the orbs to travel, there is the occasional repeat. In fact, there may be more than that but I haven’t realised it. They play differently, though, because the further you get in the game, the faster each row goes – and the more rows there are. It begins with three and rises at a steady rate from there.
There aren’t just normal multi coloured orbs in Sparkle Unleashed, though! There are ones with chains which require you to match them two or more times to clear them, and stone orbs need a match made next to them to get rid of them. There are also a bunch of powerups, which pop up when you make three consecutive matches. You can unlock them after set levels, but what you unlock is up to you, so there’s a bit of strategy involved.
The powerups with a zone of damage, for instance, such as colour splash which turns all of the orbs in the strike zone one colour, is good for levels which have narrow tracks. The second version of the freezer powerup pushes the lines backwards, instead of slowing them down. That one has saved me countless times… You’ll also find that you need a certain amount of luck, as the random order of the orbs will really screw you over on occasion.
While the gameplay is addictive, and the mechanics are solid, it’s hardly the nicest looking game on the Switch. Again, it’s from 2014, and it doesn’t even look as recent as that. The music isn’t really memorable, but it isn’t exactly harmful. However, it does a good job of utilising the Switch’s various control schemes. I found some levels benefited from the accuracy of the touch screen, others from the connected controller.
Sparkle Unleashed is a decent enough game that just looks a little aged. There is plenty to do with over 100 levels and a bunch of survival levels to keep you busy – those are levels with never ending amounts of orb lines coming along, and not losing for several minutes gives you up to give stars to unlock further survival levels. So there’s some options when you finish the story mode, or you can try to beat your own scores.
If you want a match-3 puzzle game on the Switch, then definitely take a look. It’s a nice, casual puzzle game that might infuriate you on occasion, but will certainly keep you occupied.
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