268676_largerWhile many genres have seen dramatic changes and improvements on iOS, one area that hasn't seen much in terms of advancement is the casual marble shooter genre. Of course, when heavyweights such as Zuma and Luxor are available, there may not be much incentive to begin with.

Still, 10tons took on the challenge with Sparkle, a competent marble shooter with its own style and feel. With Sparkle 2 [$4.99], 10tons has done an even better job putting its own mark on the genre with high production values and its own spin on the gameplay, even if the core gameplay essentially feels 'more of the same.'

Gameplay-wise, genre fans will quickly feel right at home with Sparkle 2. Players are charged with using a marble shooter to match three marbles of the same color against a long snake of orbs that moves towards an exit. Taking out marbles rewards runes, which allow players to eventually halt the tide of marble sand advance to the next mission.

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Players are also periodically rewarded with weapons, which range from the strategic (such as an AoE that changes the colors of the marbles it hits) to the tactical (a sphere-based projectile that takes out all the marbles). Levels vary by a variety of different parameters such as marble color, paths, snake speed, and even multiple chains and exits to keep track of.

While there really isn't anything dramatically revolutionary from a gameplay perspective, I still enjoyed Sparkle 2's presentation, pace and difficulty curve. Sparkle 2's art style is whimsical, yet dark and does a great job (along with the music) in setting the tone for the overall game. The game also feels a lot more fast-paced than my experience with other marble shooters.

Yet, despite the seemingly hectic play, the game does a great job giving players the right power-ups and opportunities at the right time to feel like a badass. This goes hand-in-hand with the difficulty curve, which starts off slow but quickly hits a sweet spot for keeping players engaged. The same goes for the game's long-term upgrade system which, while simplistic, offers some opportunity for players to customize and fine-tune their playing experience.

While the above will feel pretty familiar, Sparkle 2 attempts to differentiate itself is with its actual inclusion of an overarching story. True, the story is relatively simplistic and centers around a search for magical keys that have the power to unlock the magic of the land and free your soul, but decent cutscenes and voiceovers provide some feeling of narrative flair that is usually missing in these kinds of puzzle games. When you combine that with the above, it's not hard to see that 10tons has gone the extra mile.

Unfortunately, the impressive sheen doesn't help the fact that Sparkle 2's gameplay is rather repetitive and may not offer enough to keep players engaged for the 90 levels the game offers. Players don't see much in terms of dramatic new mechanics after the beginning portions of the game; instead Sparkle 2 elects to throw more of the same at different speeds and environments. Of course, a puzzle game of this nature is inherently repetitious at some level, but it still would have been nice to have had more variety.

Still, that shouldn't take away from the fact that Sparkle 2 is a competent marble-shooter, a decent sequel and a worthwhile game for genre fans. Assuming you don't mind a game that, while presenting itself well doesn't offer much in terms of innovation, you can do a lot worse than checking out 10tons latest title. Just make sure that your expectations are tempered ahead of time.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • morpheus

    Three and a half stars is way too low. For a marble shooter, Sparkle is right up there with Zuma as the best in the genre.

    Marking a marble shooter down because it's "repetitive" is like giving an arcade game a bad score because it's "twitchy". It's supposed to be repetitive!

    • toxiccheese

      A review is just an opinion by one person. Complaining about a review score makes no sense.

  • dancj

    I haven't played this one yet, but the original Sparkle was a solid 5 star game for me.

  • xx99

    Agreeing with Morpheus. This game is by far the best marble shooter I've played. I recognize the review is an opinion, but it is underplaying the music and the innovation.

    The music is freaking fantastic, from the same guy who did Fez and BIT.TRIP Runner 2. It reminded me at times of John Williams' Harry Potter and Danny Elfman's Edward Scissorhands. Probably my favorite iOS soundtrack aside from Sworcery.

    They've done a lot with Sparkle 2 to minimize the repetitive feel of a marble shooter. You unlock new game modes and equippable abilities at a great pace that made me constantly want to play just a few more levels so I could see what the next unlock was. The equippable items are exciting and there's more depth to the system than the review allows. You have four item slots and each slot has a unique pool of four equippable items (plus the ability to equip nothing in that slot). That means 256 combinations of full equipment and 625 combinations if you include the ability to remove equipment. The abilities are cool and let you tailor your launcher to match your play style.

    The game managed to feel fresh throughout thanks to a great difficulty curve, new modes to play, and the regular introduction of new power ups (different from equipment). Power ups are the name of the game and you get one for every combo of 3 matches... it feels awesome to get your combo chain up to 25+ matches.

    The game just feels good to play. The polish on the visual effects, art, music, and gameplay is top notch. This is easily the best marble shooter I've ever played. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of the genre or if you have never tried the genre on touchscreen before (I had previous played with a mouse and a 360 controller, it was a much better experience on touchscreen).

Sparkle 2 Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5