The first part of Spore, stretched out to the max.
It has been almost 10 years since Maxis’ Spore tried to create the experience of taking a microscopic being and evolving it until it conquered the entire galaxy. The result was a flawed mix of different genres that did not exactly match with each other. Even then, the first part of the game was an enjoyable mini-game that put you in control of a microscopic being who had to eat smaller creatures in order to evolve. It was fun. It also lasted 15 minutes. Sparkle 3 Genesis is basically the same, but longer, and without the variety you would expect of a full-fledged game.
If you’ve played the aforementioned first part of Spore before or if you’ve tried the second instalment of the Sparkle franchise (which was also released on Switch, whose review you can read here), then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Sparkle 3 Genesis. Here too, you control a microscopic being who has to eat stuff in order to evolve. Once again, the elements you gather comes in three different colors: green, red and blue. Each one of these opens up to a different branch of customization, with unique status and skills (I’ll talk more about this customization system in a bit).
Gameplay-wise, like its predecessor, Sparkle 3 Genesis is built within a top-down perspective. You can control the snake-ish creature movements freely with the left stick, and you must consider the inertia of its body at all times. It has a kind of relaxing vibe on its base, as you go swimming through the multi-leveled scenarios without a care in the world. The way you interact with the environment, in general, is by eating stuff – or by “attacking” enemies with your teeth. Your bite has a kind of cooldown mechanic, so you are constantly maneuvering while you wait for the mouth to open, and so be able to attack/eat something else.
From the very beginning, you have the company of a god-like mentor, who works both as the tutorial and as your quest giver. Once you arrive at each new scenario, you must explore it; going through its many levels (you do that by pressing the shoulder buttons at swirls), until you find the little sparkle who represents a new quest. This may sound like an interesting progression system, but Sparkle 3 Genesis lacks a bit when it comes to variety. Most of the objects can be resumed to you collecting more stuff in a different map. Even when you have enemies, it seems that they can’t really damage you, so there’s no actual challenge in completing the quests.
Sparkle 3 Genesis bring even more disappointment when you realize that the entire evolution system doesn’t change things that much. You can choose between three paths, becoming more aggressive, or more defensive, but there’s no real advantage to any of these, as they’ll add little to no difference to combat and gameplay. Your creature does transform into different forms and colors, but, just like the rest of the scenarios, the entire translucent world of Sparkle 3 Genesis can bring some awe at first, but it quickly becomes repetitive and tedious.
Sparkle 3 Genesis is a kind of contemplative experience that puts you in control of an ever-evolving creature. Unfortunately, it lacks variety and sounds more like a mini-game stretched out to become longer and, consequently, tedious.