Ever get the feeling life’s speeding up and your clock’s ticking down? Imagine being a firecracker.
There you are, with a fuse on your bonce, leaving mere seconds before your time ends with a loud noise and an explosion of colour. It turns out the bipedal, sentient fireworks in It’s Full of Sparks have had enough.
Across 80 hand-crafted levels, the tiny heroes have two aims: to douse their sparks, thereby cunningly extending their lives; and to find the mythical Old One, whose fuse has never been lit. Chances are the poor sod’s at the bottom of a bargain bin, but there you go.
Bangers and dash
The first level is a straight sprint, at the end of which you gracefully leap into the sea. But the second challenge lobs a spanner into the works – or rather a pair of natty red shades. Don those and a button appears that when prodded toggles red objects on the screen. This means you can instantly remove firecracker-exploding spiked walls – but also platforms you need to cross chasms.
You likely know what’s coming. Pretty soon, you’re juggling yellow and green buttons too, on levels where success depends on cracking the precise choreography of colour switching. This mix of speed, platforming and puzzling is frequently tense and often exciting; and when you don’t make it, the next in a seemingly limitless number of firecrackers arrives, so you can have another go.
(Amusingly, they’re all introduced by name. Sadly, there’s no Cannon Fodder-style roll-call of the recently exploded when you finally make it to level’s end – although perhaps that would have been a touch morbid for a cartoonish speedrun platformer about anthropomorphic fireworks.)
Drives you crackers
Cute as the doddering critters are, this game has teeth – sharp ones only too keen to take big chunks out of your sanity. As the levels increase in complexity and size, you start noticing a distinct smattering of trial and error on your part.
You’ll laugh when your dopey firecracker blows up when you inadvertently press the wrong button and materialise a wall in their face, but probably won’t the tenth time. Chances are, you’ll also find the physics a bit bouncy for the few precision platforming bits, and get a bit annoyed that you can’t scope out larger levels by dragging them around before you set off.
Fortunately, flashes of innovation and varied level design ensure this game’s spark survives those frustrating moments. It’s hugely rewarding when you scrape home with a fraction of a second to spare, or soar majestically into the air when equipped with a set of coloured rotors. Just ensure your smartphone’s in a protective case before you embark on the insanely tough Diamond Run mode, scooting back and forth to grab bling before making a splash.
It’s Full of Sparks is available for iOS. An Android version is due out in February