It’s hard enough creating one substantial game in a series, let alone a franchise that holds up over several iterations. Sprinkle is one example of how to do it right. The original Sprinkle was a surprise and a delight, and Sprinkle Jr. was entertaining, though it sat much better with my 8-year-old son who actually played it through at least three times. Now we have Sprinkle Islands ($1.99), and it looks to be everything the original Sprinkle was to a grander scale. My only grumble so far is that it didn’t do away with the need to play each world completely through to get to the next one.
Once again, you play a little blue guy trying to help out a bunch of theoretically frightened aliens whose homes are on the verge of being burnt down by rampant fires. In the original game the enemy was fragments of a destroyed meteor, while this time around the issue is a crashed garbage scow whose contents burst into flame upon entering the planet’s atmosphere. Regardless of the cause, the flames are just as deadly, and you only have a certain amount of time and water with which to put them out. This time, however, the levels are more than one screen wide and your vehicle can move through the level to compensate for it. In fact, your vehicle is always on the move unless stopped by a fire that needs to be put out or some other obstacle like the lack of a bridge.
The puzzles are just as creative this time around. Every level has at least one straightforward fire to put out, but that will be complimented by one or more fires that are tricky to get to. You might have to push a boulder onto a button or block a certain passage so your stream can flow in a different direction. One thing I don’t recall being in the first installment are buttons that you manually push to activate certain things like doors and lifts. It’s an interesting addition that brings a new dimension to the game play. I don’t know that there is a whole lot of variation in the solutions for most puzzles, but you can certainly try out differences in timing and where you’re spraying the water in order to try and use less for a particular fire. The game currently has four islands with 12 levels each, and just like the first one you must complete a level to move on to the next. You must also finish an island before trying the next one. I’d really love to see this feature relaxed a little bit.
Controlling the fire truck is pretty simple. Just slide your finger up and down on the screen to adjust the height of the water mechanism’s neck, and tap on the appropriate button to release water. When necessary, activating lift buttons by hand is a matter of tapping as well. Each level has a five water drop rating, and there are markers on your water meter to show you when you’ve dropped down to the next ranking. There are leaderboards for each world as well as an overall leaderboard in Game Center, but at this point there are no achievements.
Aesthetically, the game is very similar to the first, which means the graphics are at times a bit small but always nicely detailed. The animation is excellent and the particle effects really make the fire and water seem lifelike. The sound effects do a great job with helping the world come to life, and the background music is subtle and peaceful – almost like classy elevator music, if you can picture such a thing.
The more I play Sprinkle Islands, the more impressed I am with it. The game has managed to take an already great concept and make it even better. The longer, multi-screen levels really force you to be even more considerate with your water consumption, because you don’t know what’s coming next, and you’ll even have to fight non-hut threatening fires on the fly as your truck moves on by them. It turns out, you can actually skip a level if you try it enough times unsuccessfully, but I’d love to see this taken a step further and let you unlock a new world after you’ve earned so many water drops on the previous one. Otherwise there’s not much to complain about here.
Overall Score: 9/10