IMPRESSIONS: Sparklite on Switch

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

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I’ve actually been a fan of Sparklite for a while now, ever since I demoed it at PAX West. And while it’s true I didn’t review it, I did agree to give the Switch version some coverage. And even though I’m far from the biggest Zelda fan at the oprainfall site, I do enjoy the classic games, and Sparklite reminds me a lot of the SNES Zelda games. Better yet, it’s a cute little rogue-lite, and in many ways is what I wanted from A Link Between Worlds. Keep reading to see how Sparklite fares on Nintendo Switch.

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First off, the design of the game is delightful, both musically and aesthetically. That hasn’t changed since I played it a couple years ago, but I am happy to report I encountered no lag or slowdown playing on Nintendo Switch. The world of Geodia and the characters that inhabit this ever changing land are colorful, cheerful and quirky. Though none of them get much in the way of development, I wasn’t really banking on deep character arcs in a rogue game. What matters most is everybody serves a purpose, and have distinct personalities and designs. I love the SNES style all throughout Sparklite, and that goes double for the critters that threaten you. There are roving blobs, angry gremlins, spike encrusted worms, angry insects, poisonous mutants, enormous sand golems and much more. Best of all, each region in Geodia has a distinct ecosystem with a melodious soundtrack, and are all inhabited by unique foes. The sound effects are also great, such as the rubbery sound the regenerating plants make when they revive after being chopped, or the ethereal chime of the bulb plants when you touch them. Sparklite also makes smart use of the HD Rumble to make it feel like every hit has punch.

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Though there’s not a lot plot-wise, the lore in Sparklite is also interesting. I especially enjoyed how a sort of living technology girds all of Geodia, the core of which is being sought by the diabolical Baron to assume complete control of the land. Throw in some space faring astronauts and a mix of magic and technology, and the whole story is definitely interesting. Maybe not as deep as a Zelda game, but far from barren. Special shout out to all the mechanical bosses in the game, which are big, menacing and totally different. There’s not a lot of them, but they all provide a more than adequate challenge.

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Ultimately though, you’re gonna play a game like Sparklite for the gameplay, and I’m happy to report that the controls and mechanics are super easy to pick up and play. The loop of land, explore, accumulate resources, get defeated, return to your air base, rinse and repeat is very addictive. Even though you can’t keep all your gadgets, you hold onto your Patches and titular resource of sparklite, and then you use it to pay for upgrades, which in turn open up more choices. It’s fun watching your roving aerial base expand bit by bit, and it all couldn’t be more intuitive. It’s also fun to challenge yourself to dive deep into enemy lairs in the search of new upgrades and more loot.

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I enjoyed Sparklite quite a lot, but there’s some minor glitches I encountered. Once I had the game force me to the Home Screen, though thankfully I didn’t lose any progress. And oftentimes foes would get stuck in stage geometry, on one occasion making it impossible for me to attack a flying foe. I also was irritated when I found that enemy projectiles can hound me when I leave screens, which frankly shouldn’t happen.

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Though most of the gameplay is super intuitive on Nintendo Switch, there’s a few minor things that missed the mark. For example, I don’t like how when you drop into a labyrinth, enemies are charging you before you can even register their presence, and often get in a cheap hit first. I also wish the buttons for pause and menu were reversed. Granted it’s not a huge deal, but as a right handed gamer, I wish I could tweak the settings myself. The load times aren’t prohibitive, only about 30 to 45 seconds, but they can be frequent when entering and exiting structures, which can get a bit annoying. Perhaps most important is that I wish that you could return to the airship other than just when you die or beat a boss, though is sounds like that functionality is going to be added to consoles later.

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All in all, Sparklite is still delightful. Though I do hope Merge and Red Blue Games patch some of those minor issues I mentioned sooner than later, it’s still fun regardless. If you have a Switch and like playing in short bursts, this is a wonderful rogue-lite with charm to spare. I would highly recommend it.

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.