Sparklite

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Sparklite Game Poster Image
Retro adventure is a fresh mix of nostalgia and challenge.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game's primary focus is on the classic theme of "good vs. evil." There are also underlying themes of environmental concerns, as Ada's fighting to literally save her world from breaking apart due to the planet being strip-mined for valuable resources by the unscrupulous and power-hungry Baron.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ada's a strong heroic character, willing to put others before herself, to stand up to the bad guys, and to help out how and where she can. She's also a talented and creative mechanic, with engineering skills that make her capable of building and improving all sorts of gadgets with little more than a prototype and a blueprint to go by.

Ease of Play

The game has a lot of quirks that can take some getting used to. They range from small things like a stamina meter limiting Ada's running time to massive things like a world that rearranges itself any time you leave its surface. This latter feature can be particularly frustrating during longer quests.

Violence

Action and combat are constantly happening. That said, the game's retro and pixelated style keeps the damage from being graphic or detailed, and most defeated enemies simply vanish in a puff of smoke.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sparklite is a steampunk action/adventure game available for download on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. Players explore an ever-shifting world while fighting monsters and mechanical creatures. Players are also encouraged to seek out special blueprints and gadgets, showcasing the hero's engineering capabilities. While there's a lot of fighting, there's no blood or graphic violence, with defeated enemies simply disappearing in a puff of smoke. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content in the game.

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What's it about?

SPARKLITE is set in the world of Geodia, where the substance known as Sparklite is a rare and powerful resource. Used responsibly, it allows the people to channel the life force of the planet into a constant, rechargeable source of energy capable of fueling all kinds of technological advances. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, it can be a massive force capable of cataclysmic destruction. Geodia's self-proclaimed "Baron" is definitely the wrong hands, as he seeks to gain ultimate power and rule by stripping the planet of every scrap of Sparklite from its core. The only thing standing between the Baron's schemes and Geodia's total collapse is Ada, a talented young mechanic with a knack for engineering this material. To save planet, Ada must rally support from Geodia's people and travel to each of the Baron's dig sites to shut them down once and for all. 

Is it any good?

No matter how flashy or innovative video games may get, there's always going to be an appeal for those that successfully follow a classic formula. Sparklite is the perfect example of how to take nostalgic charm and craft it into a wholly new and original adventure. What makes Sparklite stand out isn't the fact that it's something you've never seen before, but rather that it takes what you know and pieces it all together in a way that feels somehow fresh but with a familiar sense of déjà vu. Both the game's style and core mechanics feel like they've been pulled from the golden age of the Super Nintendo era. Most of the action consists of running around planet-side, taking on the Baron's minions between quests for the various townsfolk. 

One of the more interesting, but also stressful, tweaks to the formula involves the game's procedurally generated world. Basically, every time you visit your flying base of operations, whether voluntarily or after getting defeated in battle, the world beneath you shuffles and shifts around. As a result, every person, item, and quest you might visit is placed in a randomly changing location. The knowledge that all your hard work and exploration can get reset at a moment's notice adds a constant challenge to the game, as well as an extra layer of anxiety. Still, there's a real sense of accomplishment as you progress, upgrading your equipment and your base along the way. It's that sense of growth as both a character and as player that keeps the game from getting stale or repetitive, and keeps your interest in seeing that next quest through to the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how humans affect the environment. What are some of the human created problems the world faces? What are some of the reasons for activities like strip-mining, and what might be some less damaging alternatives?

  • What are some of Ada's traits that kids, particularly girls, might find inspiring? What are some ways to attract younger kids to STEM subjects?

Game details

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For kids who love adventure

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