The original The Legend of Zelda left quite a roadmap for savvy developers to follow. Even in this day and age, they consider it a sort of lexicon to craft a worthy adventure around. We’ve seen quite a few examples over the past few months (go play Kamiko, just saying), but now RedBlue Games and Merge Games are out to steal the show with Sparklite, an inspired adventure that only suffers from slight difficulty spikes. Outside of that, there’s nothing that charming little adventure won’t do for its players.
The game puts you in the shoes of Ada, a young adventurer whose airship gets blown out of the sky when things kick off. She immediately lands in a strange city, and begins exploring tunnels to find a robot compatriot of hers. However, she soon comes face-to-face (or rather, face-to-large-creature) with the Baron, a tyrannical leader who squashes her flat. Fortunately, some folks tend to her aid in a haven up in the clouds, with the option to have her return to the world below, in the hopes of becoming strong enough to face her adversary before he goes through with his devastating plan.
For the most part, Sparklite takes place in Geodia, a fictional city loaded with friendly folks, hidden items and monstrosities that work in the name of the Baron. As you continue your journey, you’ll come across dangerous enemies that you’ll need to fight against, and eventually boosting your health and other attributes to become stronger each time.
Is it a bit of a grind? At first, yes. But it’s got a roguelike twist that makes it worthwhile, just because the game is so darn cute. And what’s more, you don’t always need to take the straight and narrow path. You can explore Geodia to your heart’s content, discovering little oddities and collecting more goods to make yourself better. The map here is immense, and it’ll take you a little bit of time to see what it has to offer.
Along the way, you’ll also pick up lots of Sparklite. This acts as the in-game currency so you can purchase goods and upgrades, through vendors that are located in your aerial hub. It never hurts to shop around and see what can make you stronger, lest you get rescued each time a boss hands you your butt. It never hurts to be prepared, and maybe look around for goods that will assist you.
You can also open up space on your person with patches, as well as gaining access to a workbench that assists with building gadgets. This is a wonderful addition to the game, as it really lets you creativity fly, depending on what you need. What’s more, these items serve a purpose in parts of the world, like a Spark Slinger that can hit out-of-reach switches and more. The more you experiment, the more you’ll find.
As for the core gameplay, it’s a good time. While it does borrow some general elements from Legend of Zelda, it makes them their own with some ingenuity within its design. It feels great getting into enemy encounters and mixing it up, as well as looking around and meeting new folks.
What’s more, once you get a little further into the game, there’s an option to do co-op. This allows a friend to join in the fun, making the game a bit merrier than usual. Though one player controls Ada and the other her friendly robot, they make a great pair, and it can be a good time. That said, the single player adventure is the real meat here, so keep that in mind.
The presentation for Sparklite is nothing short of delightful. The visuals really pop to life, even with a simple 2D aesthetic that suits the game remarkably well. And what’s more, the animations are highly detailed, a feat considering what the in-game engine is about. As for the music, it’s phenomenally good, perhaps the best old-school style we’ve heard in an inspired Zelda game since, well, probably Link’s Awakening.
Again, the gameplay is a good time, but beware. There are times that the difficulty can get a little too heinous, especially in the later part of the game. And with the lack of checkpoints in certain areas, frustration can set in all too easily. So make you proceed with caution, or, at the very least, get equipped with enough goods to stand a better chance against bosses.
So, despite the shift in difficulty in some places and the co-op not being as memorable as single player, Sparklite, in a nutshell, is one of the more memorable Zelda-inspired games out there. It has a presentation that truly feels like its own, particularly with the amazing soundtrack. And the gameplay is lots of fun, whether you’re getting into skirmishes, doing some exploring, or building yourself into a better warrior. It’s a generally good balanced package, mind some headaches with tough bosses. Get past those, however, and you’ll find just the spark in this game to keep you going.