Sparkle 2 (out now, $2.99) is the sequel to the earlier marble shooter by 10tons, Sparkle. A simple story is woven into the game, and though it’s forgettable, it’s a nice touch since it gives you an overall goal: to collect five missing keys. Each time you complete a group of levels, you’ll be awarded one key.
In Sparkle 2, you’ve got to clear snaking chains of colored marbles before they plunge into one or more holes in the ground. Like in a match-3 game, you’ve got to make a chain of three or more similar-colored marbles in order to vanquish them. This may be easy at the beginning, but as the orbs wind around each other and block your aim, power-ups become essential tools in beating a level. Luckily, Sparkle 2 boasts numerous power-ups, and this is probably the biggest reason the game shines.
Aside from random power-ups that you can earn within a level by making three matches in a row, you can also equip your orb slinger with enchantments, up to a maximum of four per game. Among the numerous power-ups and enchantments are a purple flame that can blast a group of orbs, a freeze ray, an orb of decay that acts like a black hole, and even butterflies that will fly down a chain to gobble up orbs. Other power-ups may make the chains of marbles move slower or go backwards.
Sparkle 2 is a gorgeous game with over 90 levels and a lovely soundtrack. In addition to story mode, there are challenge levels and a survival mode. Although the various levels start to look very alike after a while, the gameplay is so fast-paced and challenging that how the levels looked didn’t make much difference to me. Once I started playing, I didn’t feel like stopping. The one thing I wish for is iCloud data syncing between devices. To be fair, not many games let you play on one device and continue on another device without having to unlock the levels all over again, but the game that does this will earn bonus points.
iFanzine Verdict: Extremely polished and absolutely addictive, Sparkle 2 ranks among the best marble shooters. Casual gamers, especially those who enjoy match-3 games, should certainly give this a shot.