Is the second time the charm?
Some series get better with age, often hitting their stride with the magical number "2." Mega Man 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat II, and so on. With the sequel, they can easily look at what worked in the first game, and improve upon it, refining it into a more polished follow-up.
That isn't always the case, though. Sometimes sequels feel iterative, as though the developers are simply going through the motions to create the expected follow-up to their initial success, hoping to ride it from here to sunset. It's been nearly two years since the original Sprinkle was released on iOS, and consumers can only ask themselves whether Sprinkle Islands falls into the former category, or the latter.
Unfortunately, it feels more like the latter. In fact, if anything, we probably enjoyed Islands less than the original. That isn't to say that the game is bad, but rather than being polished to a glistening shine, Islands feels more like it's been pulled out of cobwebs.
The basic premise of the game is the same as the original – read our review if you're unfamiliar with it – as space trash lands on Saturn's moon of Titan, where there is apparently life. This debris has caught fire while being flung through the atmosphere, and in turn, is setting fires all over the place, leaving it to the local fireman to use his water truck in creative fashion to put out the flames before things have the chance to burn down.
There are some new tricks with commendable water physics here, and there's a greater sense of progression and adventure as many stages have you drive (automatically) from one destination to the next as you put out each subsequent blaze. Still, for whatever difference this offers, it doesn't feel that different from the original as to be a leap forward. Rather, it's closer to a skip and a hop to more of the same.
Unfortunately, Sprinkle Islands does offer a bit more frustration than we recall in the original game. The biggest issue is in the controls, as they feel a little oversensitive; that is, your finger doesn't have to be anywhere near touching the red button which triggers the hose in order to set it off, leading to numerous irritating instances of wasting your supply of precious, limited water while trying to adjust the position of the nozzle.
Additionally, some puzzles can rank somewhere between completely confounding and feeling almost broken. One particular instance called for numerous retries as we put out all the flames, yet the stage simply would not end. As near as we can tell, there was a tiny bit of fire which managed to evade us by virtue of being pressed between a patch of ground and a block of ice. By all rights, that should have snuffed out the flames, and if it wasn't going to, the water should have been able to. Suffice to say, the numerous replays did little for our disposition.
Sprinkle Islands is a really tough call to make; the original was pretty good, and for the most part, this one does well to uphold those same elements, but in the end, we just weren't enjoying this one quite as much. If you decide to pursue this one, do so with some caution, but if you haven't played the original either, give that one a try instead.
- More of the same great gameplay which innovated in the original. Fun premise and character designs.
- Controls could be better. Some puzzles feel needlessly frustrating. Feels like more of the same.