Developer: Critical Thought Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0306Critical Thought Games (geoDefense, geoDefense Swarm) and Imangi Studios (Harbor Master, Hippo High Dive) have combined forces for their latest title, geoSpark. The result of this collaboration is a finely-honed, pick-up-and-play experience. geoSpark is a simple concept with some subtle depth that slowly reveals itself the more you play and the farther you get.

geoSpark shares some similarities to goDefense with regards to the stylish and colorful vector graphics. That’s where the similarities end, however, as geoSpark is intended as a very casual game with a singular purpose. As different colored sparks drift onto the screen, your goal is to simply remove them. You can tap a spark for low points, or drag like-colored sparks together for higher scoring combos. If at any point two disparate sparks touch each other, it’s game over.

As you hold a spark and drag it around for big combos, a gravity well appears underneath your finger and grows increasingly bigger. All of the surrounding sparks quickly get sucked towards this gravity well, propelling them faster towards each other. This is where the beauty lies in geoSpark, as there is real risk versus reward involved when attempting a large chain. Although being conservative is often the best strategy, the allure of a massive chain is hard to resist.

IMG_0314Bonus sparks occasionally appear in geoSpark, such as a 2X multiplier, a screen-clearing bomb, a slowdown spark, and the ever elusive 1UP. More Sparks of different shape, size, and color appear the longer you survive, and you will eventually reach ones with different behaviors. OpenFeint is used to track both high-scores and longest chains, and there are 14 achievements that you can obtain. Topping your previous best score, as well as those of your friends, is the real hook of the game, and everything about geoSpark’s structure is streamlined to quickly get you into the next game.

The one area where geoSpark falls flat is the included tutorial video. It does a pretty lousy job of conveying all of the core gameplay elements, and there are no instructions otherwise. It is easy to dismiss the game as having little substance based on the tutorial, as it really takes a few playthroughs to get the hang of things and develop some winning strategies. Some players might never get to that ah-ha moment because of the boring and nebulous demonstration video.

geoSpark is the type of game that is built for repeat visits. The frantic pacing of the game, and fairly bite-sized sessions, do a good job of compelling gamers to push farther. The game can be frustrating at times, but it’s very satisfying when you get into the zone and score higher than you ever expected. As with the best casual games out there, geoSpark is something you can always go back to and have some fun.

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