Sunday, March 18

Review: Sparkle 3 Genesis [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Not all games are meant to be about thrilling action or a meaningful story, sometimes it is satisfying just to sit down with a game that relaxes you and can simple be enjoyed at a slower pace. Throwing lush visuals and a sedated soundtrack at you on the surface Sparkle 3 Genesis is such a game. Unfortunately, even when relaxing the standards of gameplay there’s just simply not very much to it and that makes it hard to recommend.

My expectation, coming into it, was that it would be a bit like the early stage of the classic game Spore, where you’d start out as the lowest organism on the food chain and then slowly work your way up. There’s a certain eat or be eaten principle to these, with you needing to focus on avoiding anything bigger than you and feasting on anything smaller. While this concept is present to a minor degree it also implies far more action than you’ll find here. Sadly, it would also imply a far more coherent structure.

Rather than rely on simple pre-existing ideas and your instincts Sparkle 3 guides you by through a series of worlds with missions that you’ll be assigned when you run into stars that you’ll encounter. These allow you to get direction from what I assume is your creator giving you some purpose. Whether telling you to go dispose of some enemy creatures, navigate an area without running into the wrong areas on the walls, or escorting some other organisms to safety there is at least a little bit of variety to your tasks though most range from somewhat aggravating to merely dull. The glacial pacing of everything really begins to wear on you even while in the missions, but when you are sent somewhere else because you made a mistake and have to slowly swim back to the start it can really get irritating.

On top of the somewhat anemic gameplay there are just so many things in the game that same half-baked. The mini-map is often of marginal use and while there are structured parts to the environments you’re in anything beyond that is just empty and lacking in walls… it’s just a void. As you level up you’ll be able to choose whether to allocate points into either the red, blue, or green trees but while there are numbers and sliders there showing what you’ve chosen through many levels I have yet to detect what meaningful difference any of it made to gameplay. It does influence your appearance, though as far as I can tell that is mostly a matter of what color and general look you’ll have and not much more. Even as you get bigger you still seem to only eat the same colored pellets that are scattered about, and for every few you eat there’ll be a flash that doesn’t seem to mean anything but once in a while you’ll be able to level up. You constantly have indicators guiding you to the closest pellets of each color even though once you’re rolling you have no issue finding them and it would seem something quest-centric would have been far more useful since often finding your quest objectives is a tedious chore. While you’ll recoil and there’ll be a flash of red when you’re hit by an enemy creature as far as I can tell beyond that you seem immune to consequence from damage.

There’s just so much that is either unexplained or not terribly helpful it makes really enjoying the game difficult. I can appreciate its soothing qualities, combining its pretty looks with its very mellow music but beyond that I’d still like there to be a game worth playing. Unfortunately it seems to be in the midst of trying to pull of its own evolution of sorts and is being pulled in too many directions by a mishmash of incomplete ideas. I think there’s promise in this type of game being interesting, and have played games like it that are compelling, but Genesis has too many issues to recommend with any enthusiasm.

Score: 4

  • Great aesthetics
  • Mellow and soothing music

  • A seemingly-functionless upgrade system
  • Too many lapses in action and time wasted on simply getting in place
  • No apparent consequence for taking damage
  • Constant indicators showing where food is even though quickly they’re unnecessary whereas guidance for your current objective would have been far more useful