8
Our overall verdict "silver"

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Enter the mysterious world of magic and wonder

If you know your PSN titles then you’ll know the diverse bunch of PS4 and PS Vita games Finish developer 10tons have knocked out recently. Most noticeably Tennis in the Face, that brilliantly infectious racket, ball and can of Explode smack- a-thon that came out of nowhere and was a sure-fire hit on the recent Flash PSN sale.

10tons now slow the pace down with a return to the land of Sparkle. It was back in 2013 when the first match-three marble shooter adventure graced the PS Vita. Shortly after came Sparkle 2 which saw much of the same, still just as enjoyable and a 100% game that can actually be 100%ed without losing sleep, friends or dropping a dangerous amount of weight.

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Their latest release comes in the form of Sparkle Unleashed and is a Cross-Buy package. Now I know my Sparkle. I’ve enjoyed my stay in Crowberry Woods and I’ve popped every gem there is to be popped, so I was interested to see where Unleashed would take me. If you’re unfamiliar with the game the aim is to stop the slithering tails of different coloured marbles from scuttling away and down a hole. To stop their retreats, using your Orb Slinger, you must chain marbles of the same colour together, which in turn wipes out chains of marbles before they have time to advance to safety. Don’t be fooled by the whimsical look though; Sparkle bites back as the difficulty soon ramps up.

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Upon opening up Sparkle Unleashed things do look surprisingly different to previous outings. The main glaringly obvious difference being the Orb Slinger itself. Gone is the centre staged Slinger. This time Unleashed introduces the floating Orb Slinger which lies at the bottom of the screen. Reminiscent of the early Space Invaders, this mechanic really changes the dynamic of the game. Greater control is needed swinging the Slinger from left to right and lining up ready to release your orb. If you’re playing on the PS Vita then its touch screen is a great help. A change that works? Yes, thankfully the boat has been rocked in a good way and with this simple repositioning new life has been bestowed upon the Sparkle experience. Unleashed becomes that bit fresher and skilled.

Other changes come in the form of marbles wrapped tightly by steel chains. These Chained Orbs require a first hit to break the chain and then a second shot to make them disappear. Amongst other changes is a handy counter telling you how many chains are need to be destroyed until the next maze, and there is a powerup unlock and selection system to mix things up a bit. It’s a handy new addition to an already pimped up version.

Sparkle Unleashed is full of content with 108 challenging levels, a Survival mode, and two more difficulty settings to play through. As you progress mazes become rather adventurous and keep you hooked. This is an incredibly addictive puzzler. Helping your enjoyment is the highly polished look, and once the immersive soundtrack by award-winning composer Jonathan Geer kicks in you have one great little match-three experience.

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Conclusion

Sparkle Unleashed has managed to push the boundaries and give fans of the series something new. Crammed with subtle changes and a floating Orb Slinger, 10tons have created a competent, enjoyable and, above all, a worthy purchase. Enter the mysterious world of magic and wonder.

Lizard rating 8/10

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