There aren’t many games that have been cloned as many times as Mitchell Corporation’s Puzz Loop. When the looping puzzle shooter was released in 1998, it was filled with unique ideas that moved the puzzle genre forward. Instead of trying to eliminate blocks, players were trying to eliminate a moving target. It felt so fresh at the time, and as with many good ideas it eventually got tainted.
Since then the game has seen many clones, most notably PopCap Games’ Zuma, and some of these clones have more name recognition than the original. Due to that, there are probably clones being based off other clones at this point. If that’s the case, then Sparkle 2 is probably one of them, as it’s one of the most boring puzzle game releases in recent memory.
If you simply want to play Puzz Loop in 2016, which is a totally valid desire to have since it’s a fun game, then Sparkle 2 will likely satisfy your itch. There are over 90 different levels filled with different colored balls for you to match up and eliminate before they reach their destination. What there isn’t, though, is any interesting attributes to the game itself.
You’d think in the 18 years since Puzz Loop released there would be some interesting twists that could help modernize this type of puzzle game. Or a stylistic flair could be given to make the game at least visually interesting. Instead, Sparkle 2 is one of the dullest clones to ever exist. The level layouts are fine, but never clever. The graphics are of a high quality, but the art style is dreadfully boring. There isn’t a single reason for this clone to exist when it does nothing but remind gamers that Mitchell Corporation should make another puzzle game in the near future.
If a title like Shatter, a 2010 reimagining of Arkanoid, is the perfect example of how to modernize and innovate a dated puzzle game, then Sparkle 2 might be the worst. The only unique mechanic in 10tons’ effort is that players can choose different enchantments to bring into levels. These enchantments will offer up different effects such as making the game easier, having orbs shoot out of the launcher faster, or allowing the game’s power-ups to be more easily available.
It’s a neat idea, but one that doesn’t impact the game nearly enough. It never makes the actual gameplay feel fresh. Which is a shame, since Sparkle 2 is a content filled title. There are multiple different modes to check out other than the game’s forgettable story, and they would probably be an interesting addition if didn’t just feel like more of the same.
The first mode that players will unlock is a survival mode filled with 32 different levels. As the name suggests, you’ll try to play for the longest time you can without dying. While this mode works great for games like Tetris, it doesn’t have the same appeal here. Puzz Loop was always best suited to be played in short bursts, which is why it became much more popular on handheld devices rather than consoles.
Challenge mode on the other hand works a bit better, but feels way too similar to the base game. It offers up 24 different levels that have three different difficulty settings. This means that to complete a level, players will have to beat it three separate times. As you can probably guess, it feels repetitive and definitely not like a reward.
If there is one commendable thing about Sparkle 2, it’s that it has a colorblind mode. This adds icons on the different colored balls that make them more distinguishable from one another. Even if you don’t need the mode to play, you might want to turn it on since it helps liven up the otherwise dull visuals. Nonetheless, it’s great to see more accessibility support in video games.
Sparkle 2 is a polished clone that doesn’t aspire to be anything more than just that. There’s no attempt to innovate within an established genre, and zero charm to make players forget that they’re supporting one of the most disappointing practices in gaming. Even with a solid base, it’s hard to recommend such a lifeless shell especially since most people have played this type of game before. If you’re looking for a simple puzzle game on Xbox One, then purchase Threes and support original ideas instead.
This review is based on the Xbox One version, which we were provided with.
Sparkle 2 is a clone of an almost 20 year old game and does nothing interesting with the core idea introduced in Puzz Loop.