When you spend your working life reviewing mobile games, it's a rare day that doesn't feature some mention of the physics puzzler genre. These games are everywhere, whether they're tumbling into your inbox - promised as a unique and original proposition - or dominating the App Store to the exclusion of equally worthy, though considerably riskier, games.
It's an ever rarer day when you finish playing one of these games and feel compelled to rush out and tell everyone you know to download it immediately. Sprinkle Islands, we're delighted to say, is one such title - and if a finer physics puzzler comes along in 2013, we'll all be very lucky indeed.
But let's backtrack a little bit. The original Sprinkle made its debut all the way back in August 2011, and recently made a bigger splash in the App Store charts following a rock-bottom discount. That first game was a fun enough bit of water-splashing fun, as you angled a fire-engine's crane to put out the raging fires spread around each level. But it was also a static, one-dimensional experience - and one that, while entertaining enough, became a little tired after a while.
Everything changes in Sprinkle Islands. Most notably, your fire-engine now travels through each level, adding further layers of complexity to just about every aspect of the game. Those infernos still need to be extinguished, but you'll also need to bring bridges into play with a careful bit of hose-work, for example. Boulders can be gently pushed around the screen to activate buttons, see-saw platforms need to be carefully manipulated, and platforms brought into play so that your waterjets can reach awkwardly angled fires. There are even boss fights sprinkled throughout the game, and each one's a delight.
These additions, and many others, have refreshed and revitalized the core gameplay into an experience that you simply won't want to end. That it does - and all too soon - is the only real disappointment of this sequel. Those 48 levels will be over before you know it, but there's replay value to be had from finishing up each stage with as much water left in the tank as possible.
This minor niggle aside, you suspect that the developers at Mediocre know what a special game they've created here, but if that's the case there are no signs of complacency. From the gleefully imaginative level design, to the artwork, and the kind of whimsical and nostalgic soundtrack that hasn't stirred us since Tiny Wings, this is a textbook example of polish, refinement, and game design of the very highest quality.
You could download the free version of the game, I suppose, but you might as well save yourself the download time and dive straight into the full-fat paid version. You're in for quite a treat if you do, and we can only hope that App Store success ensures we get more updates for this wonderful game in the very near future.
What's Hot:The original game improved in just about every way, imaginative level design, and great audio and artwork.
What's Not:A low level count for the genre, but there's no filler to be found here.